Afraid my jewelry is not good enough to sell

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cjbean wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 10:48 AM


I have been beading as hobby for 3 years now.  I have tons of beads.  But I purchased them from a retail hobby store.

I am self taught, and learn from magazines, books and the internet.  I give my designs away as gifts and always get good feed back.  My parents , husband and daughter all think I should start selling it, but I am worried I do not measure up to , well ,you guys.

I am in the early stages of setting up shop on Etsy.   I ordered an ebook on it because I need help.  My situation is, I look at other peoples jewelry and most of what I see is amazing and the techniques like seed beading and so forth is something I do not know how to do.  I am basically a stringer, wire wrapper.  My family thinks my designs are pretty.

However, right now I am using beads mostly purchased from Michaels (but not plastic!) The beads I am using are pretty and not cheesy.  But should I hold off and create designs with the high end "bead shop" beads.  They are so expensive!  When Etsy asks

me to write down the materials and description, I don't know what to put, I can't very well

describe my design as "rare" or Genuine Gem stones purchased from Michaels. And of course I will not embellish (lie) about the materials.  What do you guys think?

I would love to show you my jewelry, but I do not have a website or anything.  If anyone is willing to allow me to email them a photo to give me feedback that would be great. If not because of privicy, I understand.


But, please if anyone can tell me if I am not ready based on what I have told you about my skill level and the materials I am using that would be great.


Thanks Guys.



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SEllen 2 wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 11:16 AM

Hi Cathy,

I'm a basic stringer. while I can't tell you about Etsy I can tell you that if you like what you make there is always someone else who will too.

I sell my jewelry at local craft and art fairs in my area. Or I should say my family does you see I'm homebound, have been for 12 years.  But making jewelry keeps my hands and mind moving and I love it. So not being able to keep up on what is selling and all I make what I like and it sells. At least when people have the money.

If you want a trial run to see what people think try a home show or look into a local craft or art fair in your area.

Don't doubt yourself or your abilities just because of the type of materials you usejust price appropiately.


 sellen Smile

southwest Texas USA


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Cathy wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 12:16 PM

 Hi Cathy from another Cathy with a C!! 

I do simple stringing myself and I, too, am completely self-taught.  I struggle, also, with feeling like my jewelry isn't 'good enough' to sell.  Although, when I've worn things I've done or family members have worn things I've done and given them as gifts, people have asked so I have made and sold some.  I also make healing stone bracelets and usually give them away to family and friends to help with whatever they are suffering from.  I've had people ask me to make some for them or family members and pay me for them.  The people I work with keep telling me I need to sell, too.   A favorite aunt always gets inquiries when she wears anything I make for her.  I got a few strands of PLASTIC beads from Wal-mart that look like dark green pearls, green sort of diamond shapes, gold rice pearls and gold tubes and seed beads and I just strung them on wire and made a necklace, bracelet and earrings.  They came out very pretty for plastic.  I liked them so much, I even did a set for me.  I think that set got the most inquiries from my aunt's co-workers.   I just need to make the investment in some beads and sit down and get busy so I'll have some 'stock' to show and just go for it.   Problem, too, is that hubby says I NEVER charge enough for what I do so I'll have to do better in that department.

I don't know about on-line stores as I don't have one, or a website anywhere.  I have posted pictures here and know you need to have them on-line first.  I use Photobucket but others have used Flickr and, sorry, I don't know the name of other on-line photo accounts.  You can get a free account - that's what I did with Photobucket.  Pam has posted instructions here.  Here is a link to that thread

Good luck!


Baton Rouge, Louisiana

 "What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love." - St. Therese of the Child Jesus

"The laughter of a child is the light of a house" - unknown

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Posts 2,815
Sheila H wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 12:51 PM

 Cathy - Please feel free to e-mail me one and I will give you some thoughts. But also you can post a picture here. If you ask for honest critique you will get it. Although everyone will be nice about it.

I do simple stringing myself. That is what I enjoy. I don't have the patience for the weaving. No way! I buy a lot of my beads form Hobby Lobby and Fire Mountain Gems. If you have not checked out Fire Mountain Gems yet, you might think about it. With their price breaks it makes it really nice. On you buy 15 items ( any 15 items ) you get a reduce rate on everything. There is a price break around 50 and then 200 I think. Their site explains it all.

I think critiquing on'es work is the hardest. So don't worry about that. Self doubt is the hardest part I have. I haven't sold a bunch but I am still making it! Feel free to look at my artfire studio. The link is in my signature.

As far as your description just be honest. Let's say that you use clear crystal bicones with red coral faceted 8mm rounds. Then simply state something like: ( and I am not the best at descriptions! )

Gorgeous Red Coral 8mm faceted round beads separated by wonderful clear glass bicone crystals

It is what it is. You don't have to put where you bought the beads. I don't use a brand name unless I am using Swarovskis since those are SO well known or something similar. I would not say "Red Coral bought at Hobby Lobby with clear crystals from the 5 & Dime". Not that you would but you can see the difference. Pick out the best points and point them out for everyone to see. I agree don't lie and don't embellish, but be honest.

I hope some of this helped?...

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cjbean wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 1:07 PM

Hi Everyone:


Thank you all for your advice.  I am glad to know that shopping for beads at Hobby Lobby or Michaels is not such a crime.  I got the inclination from reading to many beading magazines who's resources are those exoctic bead suppliers.  Also the many articles I have read from seasoned designers saying use the best materials. 

Sheila I visted your site and your designs are very gorgeous.  Your help is so appreciated everyone, and I hope to connect with you all again.


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Sherri S. wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 2:58 PM

Hi Cathy, welcome to the BD forums!

I too am a self-taught stringer who does not have the patience for seed beads.  I've been stringing for 5 years, and I also have an Etsy storefront.  Check out the link in my BD signature line if you want to take a look.  Open one of my jewelry items and you can read the materials list on any of them.  Sheila is right, you don't have to mention where you buy your beads.  You'll find in my materials list something like "sterling silver, Swarovski crystals, freshwater pearls".  That's all you have to list.  Easy-peasy-Japanesy. 

Feel free to email me one of your photos as well.  I will give you my honest opinion as well as advice on photography if it is needed.


 Sherri S.

Check out my Etsy Store......

Check out my Etsy Beads Store.......

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Sherri S. wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 3:03 PM


And by the way, you might consider shopping for beads at a bead show.  Its like one great big bead store, only the prices are way cheaper.  You have so much to choose from and you'll be like a kid in a candy store.  Most of the freshwater pearls in my creations I got at bead shows, and many of them I only paid $5 a strand!  And we're talking for really good quality pearls.  Same goes with gemstones, but I also buy gemstones from sellers on eBay and also at Fire Mountain Gems, as Sheila suggested. 

There are many places to buy beads besides the hobby stores, and bead stores don't necessarily have to be it - they are indeed expensive, but I'm still glad they are around because I occasionally do shop in them.  Buying at bead shows and on-line retailers are my very favorite places to buy beads.

 Sherri S.

Check out my Etsy Store......

Check out my Etsy Beads Store.......

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Posts 3,191
Pam I am wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 3:09 PM

Hi Cjbean, to Beading Daily and the forums. 

Everyone here has given you great advice.  Don't worry about where you got the beads, when you describe them simply state what they are as Sheila said.  An adjective like gorgeous is non-commital (who can argue with that?) and the adjective "glass" is true so both of those are very good descriptions.  Do that kind of thing rather than focus on how rare or precious they are.  Anyone can see how good they look, when you confirm that by describing it, it reinforces that in someone's mind.

As far as getting beads at Michaels, I don't see anything wrong with that, I like Michaels myself and have bought quite a few really nice beads there, they have some really good ones.  As you make more jewelry and learn more about the components you will be able to find beads you like at good prices in a lot of places.  Mail order is usually less expensive than your local bead store (LBS).  Etsy, Artfire and Ebay sellers have some really good beads at variable prices.  Sometimes at great prices. 

Sheila mentioned Fire Mountain Gems, which is a great source for almost anything you want to make jewelry with, they have a lot, and a lot of really good beads.  Ask for a print catalog, soon would be best as they ship the new ones out in late summer, early autumn.  In order to learn about stones, read the catalog.  Rio Grande is another good place with a print catalog, although they cost a little, but they also have virtual catalogs.  In the links I put in below you'll see lots more places people here have recommended for various kinds of beads.

I love the magazines, I don't know where beaders would be without them, but the materials used aren't the only ones that can be used.  Try modifying a design using what you have instead of trying to get some of the more expensive beads or findings.  Most of us really can't afford the super expensive things anyway, so you're not alone, and just about everybody who makes jewelry tries really hard to spend the least possible on the best quality available up to what they can afford.  That's just the way it's done, why not?

There is a major show in Tuscon in February.  There are other bead shows throughout the year in lots of places.  This is one way to get some great beads.  Some of us buy most of the beads we use once or twice a year at one or more of these shows and then just pick up things like findings we run out of, etc., throughout the rest of the year.  There are some Chinese sellers on Ebay who have truly excellent prices on very high quality stone beads.  Watch out though.  Watch for high shipping costs and pay close attention to the feedback score and comments. 

If someone wants to buy it, then you're selling, there you go.  I don't have an online shop either but I do sell some through word of mouth and sometimes go to shows.  Start small, sell to your friends at work and your relatives.  Pretty soon there will be more people asking.  When you do start up an online shop one of the single most important things in it will be the pictures, the description will matter, but the pictures will sell it. 

If you want to email me a photo, I'd be happy to look too, like Sheila.  If you want to post things online in the forums you can get a Photobucket account, which I like because it's free and it's easy to use to get the photos into the forums or anywhere else for that matter. 

From the blogs there is this called 12 Reader Tips for Selling Your Jewelry

Here's an older thread we had called Where Can I find the Best Prices on Gemstones

and another one called I've Changed my Mind about Chinese Vendors

Thoughts on Ebay

Who to Buy From (Ebay related)

The whole site, Beading Daily, and the forums, is full of this kind of information.  Look around, browse, do a search, and ask any question you have here.  We do love new beaders, people new to the forums (and everybody else too) and we love to help each other. 


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KrispyCakes wrote
on Jul 25, 2009 9:51 PM

 I agree with what everyone is saying here. And think about this. When you buy a piece of jewelry, do you buy it because it is something you think is pretty or do you buy it because of the high end beads and such used in it? I'm sure there are people that look for the more expensive "rare" pieces, but I think most of us gals look simply for something we like. Sure, it's nice to splurge and buy something pricey every once in a while, but for a lot of people it is not realistic to do that all the time, so stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael's are great. Especially with the ecomony the way it is, people are always looking for something more affordable.

I also look at it this way. If I get compliments on my pieces then I truly believe that people like my stuff. If they didn't, I don't think I would get any compliments. So you must be doing something right!

I think we all tend to judge ourselves much more harshly then we would others. You just have to find your confidence (I know you have it in you) and jump in head first!

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Posts 5,471
JSmaz wrote
on Jul 26, 2009 12:28 AM

I have to concur with everyone here, and when I'm in the States I love to shop at Michael's & Hobby Lobby, especially when they have a sale!  You can't beat it when their sterling silver is 50% off.

I think starting with a couple of home and/or work parties is a great idea.  Invite friends, family & co-workers, and ask them to bring a friend as well so you're reaching people you may not know who can help spread word of mouth for you (or ask a friend to host one for you).  With the sea of jewelry available everywhere, word of mouth will always be your best friend.  I have an ArtFire studio, and while it's nice to have the online presence, it will take time for you to start selling most likely.  However, if you start getting the word around locally and have your website on your business cards, someone may come looking for you there, and that's how you get rolling.

You are welcome to email me some pics also.  I'd be happy to give you some feedback.  Welcome, and please join in anytime!


Oklahoma City

ArtFire Studio & blog  |  Gallery 



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Posts 156
Leigh@18 wrote
on Jul 26, 2009 2:43 AM

 Hi Cathy,

I too am a stringer and as others have mentioned also do not have the patience to do bead weaving with seed beads and some of  the other elaborate designs I have seen. I am completely self-taught as well through magazines, books, the internet, and lots of lots of practice, mistakes, and big old oops. When I first started selling my items, I was very intimidated by what I saw on sites such as Etsy and more recently Artfire. I was worried and still worry a bit to this day that my pieces do not measure up - but that being said - I like my pieces, have sold a great deal of my work by word of mouth alone, and get compliments on a regular basis. Someone suggested trying a home show or party and this is a great idea. I have a friend who sells the Beijo purses and when she has a show she calls me and I take my jewelry - it ends up being a woman's accessory dream!!! Alot of my repeat customers are from these shows. I also wear my own jewelry all of the time to work, to social events and when I am out and about. This has also been another way I have built up a client base. While I do not have a website, I do share my photobucket pictures and provide my email address to folks - I often get emails asking me to make a piece like one in my photobucket album in a different color or shape of bead.

As far as how to describe the beads you use - just be honest - what are they - glass, crystal, gemstone - I don't tell people where I purchased the beads because honestly most of the time I cannot remember where I got them. And bead shows are a wonderful way to explore new beads while being able to touch and see them in person - this will help get you more comfortable when ordering from websites where you cannot touch/see them in person. Another thing that I do as well is mix my gemstone beads with some of my more inexpensive beads - some people may say this is a no no but if I find the combination pleasing then so be it - You have to like what you make as well.


And think about this. When you buy a piece of jewelry, do you buy it because it is something you think is pretty or do you buy it because of the high end beads and such used in it? I'm sure there are people that look for the more expensive "rare" pieces, but I think most of us gals look simply for something we like.

I completely agree with this statement. Some of my favorite jewelry pieces that I have purchased did not cost that much and would probably fall into the category of "cheap" at times - but I still love them! While rare is nice for some, my pocketbook cannot handle that - which is one of the reasons I started beading in the first place!

Anyway - I could go on but I will stop here and say I hope this helps. Please share some of your designs here. I have shared several pieces and the suggestions and feedback have been very helpful.



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Posts 2,145
on Jul 30, 2009 5:47 PM

Cathy, you said you'd been beading for three years -- that is long enough to have the knowledge and experience to know if you like it or not.

The only comment made so far with which I can disagree is one which is too soft:

I think we all tend to judge ourselves much more harshly then we would others.

I KNOW we all judge our work much more harshly than we do the work of others!

We were casually discussing beaded jewelry, I had prevgiously been asked to bring some of mine, so I did.  A lady took one look at a pair of earrings I didn't like [my first attempt at that style] and she asked 'How much?"  I was surprised, then when DW popped up with "$20", my immediate response was "no..." and was asked, "More?"  I honestly replied "No, $15.  I never saw anyone pull out cash that quickly!

I still feel she paid a bit too much for that one, but now I have some idea of what to ask if someone does want to buy.  (Sometimes others do overestimate the value of what they see, mostly from inexperience.)

Stan B.

Lakeland, MN


Ignorance is curable; Stupidity has neither cure nor excuse.

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