Selling Artisan Jewelry Online During the Holidays

Most jewelry artisans do the majority of their business online during the Christmas season. Busy shoppers are finding the convenience of online shopping to be a valuable tool to help them meet the Christmas deadlines. A well-designed, current and secure site can provide a good shopping experience and go a long way to alleviating the stress of holiday shopping for your customer.

The shoppers who buy artisan jewelry online also find that frequently even the cost of shipping is offset by no sales tax and the savings on gasoline for the shopping trip. These shoppers also benefit from a much wider choice of styles and materials in their jewelry. Its up to you to remind your site visitors of these savings in both time and money and an increased number of choices while they are on your site.

Remember that many people start their Christmas shopping by early October. In recent years, the Monday after Thanksgiving has been the biggest day for shopping online during the year. This means that your site should be up-to-date, well stocked, recently tested and secure for what you hope will be an onslaught of visitors. Your site marketing should also reflect a quality and service.

Other benefits your website can provide for online shoppers are:

Payment options – Online shops usually accept credit cards and PayPal along with other methods of payment such as eChecks, checks or money orders

Gift Wrapping – When sell artisan jewelry online, your offer of free gift wrapping with a card can encourage a buyer who may be undecided to make the purchase.

Drop Shipping – If you offer to drop ship the gift wrapped piece of artisan jewelry directly to the recipient, you can save your online customer both time and money.

Gift Certificates and Coupons – Providing coupons, gift certificates or gift cards for a certain value to be used on your website allows your holiday shopper to give a gift they know is just right for the recipient. Be sure that all gift certificates and coupons provide your website address, an amount or percentage off of a purchase and have a redemption date.

Gift cards and gift certificates should be for a specific amount and the redemption date should be six months to a year after purchase. They should have an identification number so they can be used on your website.

An electronic gift certificate can be purchased online and sent to the recipient on a specific date. These gift certificates should be numbered and written for a certain amount and have a certain redemption date. This date should be at least six months away.

Coupons can be used in a variety of ways during the holidays. One good way is to use them in your marketing by giving several to a realtor, insurance agent, hairdresser or anyone who may want to give a small thank you gift to a client. These coupons should be in the form of a certain percentage off and the must be redeemed by a certain date.

Another way coupons could be used is to sell them as inclusions in Holiday cards. You could sell them at a reduced price, a certain discount per dollar. This would allow your site visitor to give a $5 coupon for only $1.50. These coupons would also need a redemption date.

Holiday shoppers will make use of your good service and time and money saving offerings if you make your site a gift resource. Here are a few possibilities.

Give accurate descriptions, photographs and measurements on your website.
Provide a variety of price points so site visitors can buy for a wide variety of people
An online gift guide can be used to help your site visitor with some unique ideas. You might even provide a questionnaire to gain some information about the recipient and send a personalized list of suggestions.
Create a way for your site visitor to save orders to be pulled up later for further shopping
Provide a birthstone or anniversary stone guide.
Provide a wedding registry
Host a “Special Day” reminder service.
Create a reference page of stone meanings and properties.
Have a jewelry care guide.
Provide multiple payment methods.
Have a lay-away service.

If you market your site throughout the year, provide an up-to-date and easily used secure website, offer a variety of gift-related services and create a way of constant communication between yourself and your customers, your website can become their most preferred way of shopping for artisan jewelry.

Native American Jewelry Design Evolution and Its Impact on the Current Market

There’s a lot to be said for Native American jewelry artisans that were in on it early. The last 100 to 150 years have proven to be an amazing period of creative growth within their culture, and the pioneers that set the stage, developed many of the design elements that are still in use today.

A lot of contemporary jewelry on the market is being produced inexpensively and quickly because demand is pretty high, especially when considering that mass-produced goods can be offered to the public inexpensively. Many artisans have been absorbed into the mass production aspect of the craft, which in my humble opinion, has devalued the art form.

Designs and techniques that were once an artisans calling card, are now being used in a completely different way. There was a time Native American Indians saw no need to hallmark their work–their designs spoke their name to the fellow tribe members the pieces were created for. But global demand has placed such pressure on the industry, and spawned so many companies that create knock-offs, entities like eBay will no longer allow you to offer unsigned Native American jewelry in the Native American category. It has to go into a category called “Unsigned Artisan Jewelry” and of course, if you should list an unsigned masterpiece in that category, it goes unnoticed for the most part. This edict was handed down by the Native American community itself, due to all the knock-offs flooding the market.

There is still a sizable community of artisans doing superior work, innovative designers that have taken established techniques and are pushing the envelope. I like a lot of their work and have been known to acquire it and offer it to my clients. Charles Loloma, Victor Beck, Kirk Smith, and E. S. Mitchell being some examples of artisans striving to maintain the integrity of the art form as a whole.

But my heart really belongs to the pioneers; artisans that were creating with minimal tools and resources, often using blacksmithing tools as well as developing tools from materials they had on hand. These early artisans drew on Spanish/European design elements and made them their own, by incorporating the cultural and religious aspects of their peoples. This is when the guidelines for Native American jewelry were laid down, and a lot of what is being produced currently is a repetition of what has been done before, the big difference being, that the handcrafted aspect is being removed a little at a time, when mass production is considered.

Some early Navajo works I find have a common backstory. A recent find was traded for liquor at a Gallup, New Mexico bar sometime in the mid 20th century; 1950–1960, somewhere around there. The necklace itself was produced much earlier and has been dated by associates as being from between 1900 and 1920. It’s construction and design are all handcrafted. The beads, the clasp, the pendant in which the outstanding Bisbee mine stone is set, were created through concerted attention to detail with little to no concern for how long the process would take. The unknown artisan had a vision and pursued it with dedication and considerable skill, resulting in a unique work of Native American art.

Finding pieces of this caliber grows more daunting as each day passes; the value of them increases and demand for pieces from this era has grown substantially in the past decade. When they are offered to me it’s always a wonderful learning experience, as this aged art form is unique to a specific culture, a culture with deep spiritual roots and a high level of integrity around craftsmanship. I like that. I like that a lot.