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Entrepreneurs who enter this industry are usually passionate about metalworking and gemstones and have a good eye for value. Jewelry businesses usually specialize in the fabrication and sale of unique jewelry pieces. They also resell estate or secondhand pieces. Some jewelers will also accept pieces on consignment.
Who is this business right for?
This business is suitable for individuals who have a passion for metalworking and are experts in the trade.
The jewelry business is also influenced by the gemstone and precious metals industry, so business owners should also be metals enthusiasts and enjoy watching the metals and gemstone markets.
What happens during a typical day at a jewelry store?
Business owners typically work late hours and spend a lot of time creating jewelry, taking inventory, and managing supplies.
What is the target market?
Ideal customers are those shopping for an engagement or wedding ring. Alternatively, those who are interested in and can afford luxury jewelry or custom pieces are also ideal customers.
How does a jewelry store make money?
A jewelry business makes money by fabricating and selling jewelry. Customers typically pay a set price for the piece which is based on the cost of metal, gemstones, labor for fabrication, and jeweler’s markup.
What is the growth potential for a jewelry store?
Being a jeweler is a low overhead business. You can run it out of a home or garage or rent a small office or building. Small jewelers are usually owner-operated and focus on custom jewelry and pieces for the general public. Large retailers may or may not do many custom pieces and often focus on mass market appeal.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful jewelry store?
Being a jeweler is a trade, so most entrepreneurs who get into this business already have experience in the industry. However, that doesn’t mean an outsider cannot start a jewelry store. Experience in metalworking, sales, gemstone cutting and analysis, and accounting is strongly recommended.
What are the costs involved in opening a jewelry store?
A small jewelry store can be started for as little as $20,000. However, depending on your location, it might cost up to $100,000 to get started.
A typical breakdown of expenses might look like this:
- Rent: $0 (if you start your business out of your home); $1,000 per month for a small storefront; up to $10,000 per month for a larger storefront, depending on location.
- Overhead and raw materials: $500 for basic raw materials to make low-end jewelry; $10,000+ for precious metals and gemstones.
- Insurance: $500 - $1,000 per year.
- Basic tools: $200 - $300
As your business grows, you will want to add more tools to your tool set, including grinders, a professional workbench, various gemological tools, hammers and mallets, laser welders, loupes and magnifiers, metal forming tools, gauges and scales, molds and casts, engraving tools, beading supplies and beaders, burs and drills, adhesives and various specialty compounds, polishers, and safety equipment.
Costs vary, of course, depending on the size and scope of your operation. However, a full tool set may add several thousand dollars to the overhead cost.
To reduce the overhead cost, consider bootstrapping your business.
For example, instead of taking on large loans, consider borrowing money from a retirement account, cash value life insurance policy, your own savings, or from a friend or family member. Grow the business slowly over time as finances allow.
What are the steps to start a jewelry store?
Once you're ready to start your jewelry store, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your jewelry store is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your jewelry store keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
How to promote & market a jewelry store
Marketing a jewelry store is usually done via word-of-mouth and local advertising. Advertising of this type can include anything from explaining your business to those in your social circle and asking them to tell others they know about your business to participating and presenting your jewely at various community events and local fairs.
Recommended: A website is essential for promoting your business and attracting customers. Weebly is a great tool.
How to keep customers coming back
Jewelers who specialize often outperform their peers. For example, a jeweler who specializes in custom wedding pieces will attract a unique kind of customer and outcompete in that market.
How and when to build a team
If you already have training in metalwork and gemology, then you probably don’t need to hire help outside of an accountant and other support staff. However, if you’re a first-generation jewelry store owner, at minimum you need staff with gemological training and experience working with, buying, and selling precious metals.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a jewelry store. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
If a jewelry business is working with multiple artists that will be using the online business to market/sell their own jewelry, it is advisable to draft a standard contract regulating terms of conditions under which you may sell their artwork. This type of agreement is often referred to as a consignment agreement.
- A sample gallery-artist agreement can be found here.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources
Certificate of Occupancy
If a jewelry business plans to have a physical retail presence, a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) will be needed. A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
When leasing a store location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a Jewelry business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
When purchasing or building a store location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your Jewelry business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
As well, many retail establishments will play music in the store to offer an aesthetically pleasing environment, requiring a music license:
How much can you charge customers?
Jewelers have their own language when it comes to pricing their product, called “keystone pricing.” This means wholesale pricing times 2. In other words, traditional jewelers will mark up pieces 100%. A piece purchased for $100 should be sold for $200, minimum. However, it’s not uncommon for rare items to be marked up 300% or more, which is called “triple keystone pricing.”
With smaller jewelers, cash or credit is the standard method of payment. For larger retailers, in-house special financing is often arranged for more expensive pieces.
What are the ongoing expenses for a jewelry store?
Ongoing expenses for a jeweler vary based on the size of the operation.
A jeweler may have to pay rent, supply costs, and labor for a small to medium-sized operation. Larger operations usually cost more to run.
A typical breakdown of costs may look something like this:
- Rent for building: $3,000 - $10,000, depending on location
- COGS: Precious metals spot price + spread + gemstone = $3,000 - $50,000+
- Labor cost: $25,000 - $50,000+ per employee
- Insurance: $1 - $2 per $100 of merchandise
How much profit can a jewelry store make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a precious metals worker makes just under $40,000 per year. If a jeweler is an owner-operator, he may make this much net of costs. A successful owner-operator could earn more, however, depending on location and size of the operation.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Growing your business is the key to more money in the jewelry business. Prices for metals are determined by the commodities markets and gemstone pricing is determined by distributors. Therefore, jewelry store owners need to focus on business expansion.
Some ideas include:
- Selling over the Internet through popular online marketplaces (markets like etsy, ebay etc.)
- Selling through local markets, farmers markets, mall kiosk/pop-up shop, or other temporary locations