Jewellery-making is a craft that allows you to create and fabricate jewellery items of your design. If you have an appetite to express your creativity and style through this medium, you can choose to sell your pieces directly to consumers online, in a store, or you can partner with distributors or owners in the retail industry to stock your creations.

But how do you start a jewellery-making business in Canada? Here is good news: the market size of the jewellery industry in Canada is projected to be worth $3 billion in revenue in 2022 and is ranked 33rd in retail trade by market size.

Although the industry is highly competitive, it has low barriers to entry. Additionally, the industry’s size in Canada declined 2.5% per year on average between 2017 and 2022, faster than the economy overall and the retail trade sector. In other words, now may be the time to strike gold.

A woman making jewellery

Steps to Take to Start a Jewellery-Making Business 

Before starting a jewellery-making business, you should understand the production process, the different techniques and materials used, and how to manufacture on a sizable scale.

Explore and research the jewellery-making industry to understand the different segments available and how you intend to situate yourself among the greater landscape. Consider the experiences you will encounter in the position you choose to focus on, and prepare yourself for how you will face the challenges of a crowded and subjective market. Differentiating your business to stand out will be vital to your success when marketing your brand to consumers.

What Does It Cost to Start a Jewellery-Making Business?

The start-up costs for a jewellery-making business can vary, depending on the materials you intend to use in your product. But overall, the cost is relatively low compared to other new businesses. What you need most is a workspace, and if possible, you can establish a home-based business and avoid the need and expense of renting a space. Start slow and low, acquiring the most basic tools and expanding your business and production as you grow.

What Kind of Jewellery Should I Sell?

Whatever kind of jewellery you decide to sell, ask yourself if you have an appreciation and fascination for the product yourself. That connection to the product really comes through when you operate and interact as a small business.

Do you see yourself focusing only on fine jewellery made with precious and semi-precious metals and gems? This category has a higher price and focuses on artisanal craftsmanship, not mass production.

Or are you looking to serve the everyday consumer looking for trendy fashion or costume jewellery at a lower price point? These pieces are made of less expensive materials (plated metals, beads, wire, plastic, and synthetic gems) and can be mass-produced or made efficiently.

There is an “in-between” market where you produce unique design-focused jewellery from mid-range (using materials such as metals, semi-precious gems, textiles, wood, and 3D printed objects) to crafted art jewellery made to order, one of a kind, and highly collectible. The price point is usually mid-range in this market but can vary significantly.

For the above categories, your choice will affect your methods of making your jewellery. For example, you can assemble pre-made elements with simple tools, and for this method, you need minor technical skills. On the other hand, if you aim for more customized pieces, you can solder metal together, and it is another approach that requires less craftsmanship.

To up the ante and allow for custom moulded pieces, casting your metal allows for endless options but requires safety, skills, and speciality supplies. Metalsmithing is a much more advanced skill that includes softening the metal and forming it into the desired shape, joining other pieces of metal, and finishing it into an alluring piece. Stone-setting of semi-precious and precious stones for fine jewellery-making takes mastery and is vital if you want to sell pieces using valuable stones.

Jewellery with leather and fabric materials calls for unique methods and skills; if this is your intention, you will need to know leather tooling and weaving. Of course, we live in a high-tech age and now have access to high-tech techniques. Laser cutting and 3D printing require new skills but open you up to making jewellery with materials such as acetate and ceramics.

What Equipment and Supplies Do I Need to Start a Jewellery-Making Business?

The list and range of supplies for jewellery-making can be broad and dependent on your final product and your customer target.

Naturally, you will need to procure the actual jewellery supplies, including metals (sterling silver, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, platinum, titanium, copper, and brass), beads, wire, glass, and clay.

After setting up a dedicated workbench with impeccable lighting, here are the most useful tools you should have on hand at your workspace:

  • Wire cutters
  • Chain-nose pliers to open, close, and grip jewellery without damaging the metal
  • Round-nose pliers to create loops in your wire
  • Flat-nose pliers to grip jewellery while working with another set of pliers
  • A crimper to crimp beads into position in place of knots to finish jewellery

Safety is also essential, especially when working with metals and soldering, so your toolkit would not be complete without adding goggles, gloves, and working in a space with adequate ventilation.

You will develop your toolkit to be specific to your business and the pieces you choose to make and sell. You will want to consider adding the following items:

  • Hammers and mallets
  • Solder and soldering tools
  • Etching and engraving tools
  • Files
  • Metal polisher
  • Jeweller saw
  • Ring mandrel
  • Casting equipment

Supplier relationships will be crucial so that your stock of supplies (including raw metals and semi-precious or precious gemstones) will be steady and well-priced. Try regularly attending trade shows and other industry events to discover new crucial things such as your stock of supplies (including raw metals and semi-precious or precious suppliers and materials. It will always pay off having a wide and varied network and asking other designers in the industry who they trust.

How Profitable Is a Jewellery-Making Business?

Jewellery-making may be your passion, but ultimately, for a business to survive and thrive, you need to direct some focus on making a profit.

Profit remains after you consider the cost of goods sold (the cost of your labour, production, and material costs) and your fixed overhead costs such as your workspace, employee compensation, and shipping fees.

Statistics Canada data shows that 80% of jewellery stores were profitable, with small- and medium-sized businesses averaging more than $287,000 in annual revenues.

A standard markup policy is doubling the cost of a product to set a healthy profit margin. However, it is entirely up to you to determine prices as part of your overall business strategy (for example, selling high-end, fine jewellery or inexpensive, trendy jewellery).

How Can I Differentiate and Market My Jewellery-Making Business?

The jewellery you create and sell may be highly unique, but in such a crowded section, you need to differentiate your business in other ways to break through the noise.

How do you get customers to buy your product? How do they even know you exist in the crowd? How can you differentiate and market your jewellery-making business? Ensure that you have a strong brand, visual identity, and well-designed website (it’s your business’s calling card, after all) and that your photography makes this excessively clear.

Your visual identity is the colours, graphics, and other elements that create the character of your company. Your name, brand, and image are the only tactics you can use as a differentiator from anyone else in this industry. You are more likely to be included in the shortlist for purchase if you are recognizable when a potential customer is in search or buying mode.

The elements that make up your visual identity are those same elements you draw on when posting to social media – the logo, images, and typography used in posts and cover pictures and the colour palette you apply. Whatever you would use to portray a cohesive and specific brand in your promotional materials is what falls under the purview of your brand’s visual identity.

Suppose you consistently present a strong brand lifestyle, voice, and visual identity. In that case, you stay recognizable and salient in the minds of your customer base, especially if it resonates with your target’s age and life stage, needs, earnings, hobbies, interests, and tastes. Make the customer identify with (or aspire to) your brand.

The best way to show this instantaneously is with photography of both your product and brand lifestyle shots. Executing this with good photography is fundamental. For product photos, minimize any clutter or distraction by highlighting the product on a clean background with various angles. Repeat this approach for a consistent look and feel on grids or collection pages. Your lifestyle shots show the real-life scale of your products and styling ideas (use other items from your collection for subtle upselling). Ask yourself if you would be tempted to tap it yourself on Instagram.

How and Where Should I Sell the Jewellery I Make?

When choosing how and where you will sell the jewellery you make, you can opt for e-commerce in many forms, a traditional brick-and-mortar location, or a combination of both.

E-commerce makes such sense for small jewellery-making businesses because of the abundance of potential customers actively online on social platforms such as Instagram. These social platforms make it easy for you to sell directly through them and pivot your posts directly to your e-commerce website or other third-party marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, or Wayfair.

If partnering with another e-commerce retailer, you may have to forego a cut of your profit but will gain exposure to an established customer base and marketing plan. Establishing your own online store and website can get you selling your product in no time. Choose your platform wisely, as it can dictate your intended target market.

E-commerce is ideal for a jewellery-making business because of the relatively light and small nature of the product to be shipped, which in this case can be cost-effective and straightforward. You need to meet your consumers where they live or shop, and while that can be done inexpensively online, you can also open a brick-and-mortar retail store. While doing so can have high upfront costs and overhead, it allows your customers the freedom to see and try your pieces in person before committing to buying them.

Regardless of whether you intend to sell only in-store, you will still need to cultivate an online presence and some e-commerce opportunities to drive consumers to your location or provide options for customers not in your physical trade area. You can also approach in-person retail with less commitment by participating in craft and trade shows and expos.

Cover all your bases to increase your audience and potential consumer base when you start your jewellery-making business. Those who use multiple marketing avenues (i.e., the internet, trade shows, craft shows, studio sales, etc.) and retail store sales are likely to have greater success.

What Is a Dropshipping Jewellery Business?

Instead of producing, storing, and selling your product, you can use the dropshipping model. It is a form of fulfilment used by online stores that eliminate the need for inventory and a warehouse. In its place, you purchase the products that you sell to your customers from third-party suppliers as needed when you receive orders for jewellery from your online store. That third-party supplier then ships the jewellery directly to your consumer.

Externally, your store and the items available to purchase are like any other retail operation. Perhaps you are an excellent marketer and absolutely on fire when promoting your business. Focus on what you do best – gain customers, drive traffic, and let someone else get hands-on and fulfil orders on your behalf. Sometimes entrepreneurship is knowing what you do best and capitalizing on that.

What Kind of Insurance Does a Jewellery-Making Business Need?

When you start your jewellery-making business, whether it’s a full-time endeavour or a part-time side hustle, you need to protect yourself from risks. Purchasing insurance coverage is one of the most critical business decisions. Sole proprietors face the same liability risks as larger organizations and can be insured against them; it’s not restricted to corporations.

You will want to explore all options for jewellery store insurance, which combines several coverages to provide a comprehensive policy for your business. Typically, retail insurance includes:

  • Commercial general liability insurance. It protects you against the day-to-day risks during an in-person shopping experience. It includes product liability insurance; a must-have for anyone who sells, manufactures, or distributes a product. It protects against claims alleging third-party property damage or bodily injury caused by your jewellery.
  • Cyber liability insurance. No business with an online presence that sells goods and services online and stores customer data should go without cyber liability coverage. Even offline retailers have a system where customer data is stored online, and this type of insurance covers costs associated with electronic incidents like a cyber-attack or data breach.
  • Commercial property insurance. If you have a retail location or storage space with furnishings, electronics, inventory, and equipment, it’s wise to protect them from things that can occur beyond your control, such as a fire, theft, or flood.

There may be additional coverages your jewellery business needs, such as legal expense insurance, equipment breakdown insurance, and commercial crime insurance (if you have employees). For valuable jewellery containing precious stones and metals, you may require a “jeweller’s block” policy. It is all-risk coverage, which means that your insurer must specify what is not covered. If a risk is not in the list of exclusions, it is covered. Typical risks that are covered in a jeweller’s block policy include burglary, robbery, shoplifting, grab-and-run, trick loss, substitution, and accidental damage. Speak to a Zensurance licensed broker to get a policy that is tailored to your specific needs. Speak to a Zensurance licensed broker to get a policy that is tailored to your specific needs.

Starting a jewellery-making business can be challenging, but trust your instincts, be authentic, and start slowly. It’s not uncommon for new business owners to launch their ventures as a side gig and grow it into a full-time focus. Above all, protect your business and finances with a customized business insurance policy that will cover you if something goes wrong unexpectedly.

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About the Author: Liam Lahey

Liam is the Content Marketing Manager at Zensurance. A writer and editor for more than 20 years, he has been published in several newspapers and magazines, including Yahoo! Canada Finance, Metroland Media, IT World Canada and others.