Designing Custom Jewelry


Jewelry designing is not for someone who finds decision making daunting!  My assistants would say that disqualifies me immediately! The truth is I am a pretty good decision maker after years of experience except when faced with a thousand different gemstones, colors, cuts and other materials! Now add all the possible charms like the special one I use on my Buddha Necklace, our popular Breathe Deeply, our Lucky Elephant, Om and Lotus...That’s the dilemma, but also the fun of it.

So how does one chose? Obviously the prettiest combination and the trending styles make influence your choice, but I just ask myself-would I like to wear that right now?

A new piece starts with a simple design, an experimental color combination, and a choice of metals. Then the fun begins, much to the chagrin of my assistants. I usually like to see it in a few variations. At the end of this process there may be a number of new designs and maybe a coordinating collection of bracelets, earrings or necklaces.

But the process of deciding does not end here. I consider pricing- can I make something most people can afford? Do I have the materials in stock? Should I add diamonds? How long does it take to make? All of these considerations go into the mix.

Then I try it on- uh oh..can we change this to silver and make it longer? What if we….I can drive my assistants crazy.

In the end, my collection of handmade jewelry is affordable, pretty and well made. The final result is well considered. If the design is good my customers are going to like it.

Do You Have What it Takes To Have A Handmade Jewelry Business? Part Two

earrings_minihoop earth_print

If you think you are a great designer and others do too, then you have what it takes to design handmade jewelry. But be prepared to spend more time than you can imagine endlessly photographing, retouching, organizing stock, repairing, filling orders and most importantly, selling and marketing your handmade jewelry. If you can afford it hire a rep or people to help you do it!  Keeping up with all social media is a job all its own. Selling door to door still the most productive way for me to make a sale but requires lots of time and stamina, attention to detail and heavy lifting.  Charity events are also important but not all are created equal.  Some are juried and all of them require advance registration- sometimes a year ahead!  Trade shows are also very productive but only experience and lots of spending, (they can cost $4,000-10,000 a show if done within your region, more if you have to go far away) can tell you which ones are right for your business.  This is only a partial list of activities that go along with the territory if you are serious about establishing yourself in the handmade jewelry design world.

As I mentioned earlier, I spend hours each week posting to my blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and being part of online discussion groups. Now there is Pinterest to attend to as well. Today I added a new activity to the list- Brandboom- a new line sheet program that will generate online PDF line sheets (a simple catalog)  for my wholesale customers. I also update my website whenever I have a new group of creations to sell. Since you are always creating new things this means work never ends.

Then there are the old fashioned routines, calling and emailing my customers to tell them what is new in the line and setting up sales appointments.  I have a total of about 3,500 people to keep in touch with!

To attract new customers plan on doing trade and craft shows to sell to stores and retail and to tell the world you  have jewelry they simply must know about!  If you don’t do well at  first not to worry- people wait to see if you come back- then they will too! I have so many customers that tell me they saw or heard about me years ago. Did I tell you focussing might become a problem? Oh boy- I think I need to hire some more people!!

More to come!

Pam Older Designs at The Daily Muse Event For Women Owned Business

CEO of the Daily Muse

The Daily Muse sponsored SheMakes, a holiday pop-up festival recently held in NYC to celebrate women owned businesses. Pam Older Designs exhibited at this event which attracted a large crowd of New York area exhibitors and guests! I met Kathryn Minshew, the stunning CEO of the Daily Muse and couldn’t resist  having her model my handmade keshi pearl cascade earrings! With her custom designer sheath from designer Carrie Hammer she looked like a starlet!  You can see she is having!  By the way- Carrie Hammer makes custom made to measure career clothing- pretty cool idea for women who are hard to fit and don’t have time to spend shopping!

Article From Hudson Valley Magazine by Liz Stein- 1/08

Remember back when we were in the third grade and had an obsession with EZ 2 Do? We loved designing our own bracelets, necklaces, rings, and earrings. We’d spend endless hours at sleepovers, tediously crafting our very own jewelry collections (usually of the gaudy “gemstone” or beaded variety) — and, of course, embellishing any piece of fabric we owned with our trusty BeDazzler (I think I even tried to BeDazzle a pair of satin leggings … what’s worse, that I did this, or that I owned a pair of satin leggings?). Then there was lanyard (also known as Boondoggle or gimp) — yards and yards of the plastic lace, in a vast rainbow of insanely bright colors, which we used to create bracelets, key chains, and other vibrant accessories. And you can’t forget that huge pink caboodle, filled with thousands of tiny, sparkly beads and elastic thread. I even recall a few of my über-crafty friends using their Easy-Bake Oven to manufacture their own clay beads. Weren’t we always so proud of our jewelry? Our colorful little bracelets were truly an expression of ourselves — a representation, if you will. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t a very talented jeweler — at all, now that I think about it.)

Anyhow, the point is, I was accessories shopping this past Monday and couldn’t help but notice how utterly mainstream everything appeared. It looked as if there was one giant fashion house designing all of our jewelry (and I’m not just talking about Forever 21 look-alikes). From the cheap little bodegas in the malls to the racks at retail chain stores to the counters at Saks, it’s all one big heaping mess of long chain necklaces, chunky bangles, and large Beyoncé-esque earrings these days.

Whatever happened to our girl’s nights of beading and bedazzling? Have they been completely displaced by Mojitos and stiletto-wearing evenings out? I’m not suggesting a need for the revival of slumber parties, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a fabulous necklace that no one else has, everyone loves, and doesn’t bear the label “Made in Korea”?

Well, as I stated before, I’m no craft queen. But these days, I do have a penchant for unique bling — as well as an aversion to the commonplace, blah status of mass produced-jewelry. To satisfy my craving, I tracked down a handful of local jewelry designers (yes, they do exist north of Soho), and to my delight, I found oodles of fantastically fun — and classy — pieces for every style preference and occasion. Ranging from welded cuffs to beaded earrings and gold necklaces, these artists have given me a breath of fresh air — and an outlet for my latest fashion fetish.

Larchmont’s Pam Older, who previously had a career in magazine publishing, launched her jewelry company in 2003. She was profiled in the January 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, and last year her jewelry was shown on Desperate Housewives. You can purchase her colorful, elegant designs on her Web site or at boutiques and galleries all over the country.

Vermeil Nugget Hoop Earrings, $125
Teardrop hoops in 22k vermeil with a thin layer of 22k gold over a sterling silver bead

Four Strand Vermeil Bracelet, $165

Four strands of vermeil beads joined with a bold toggle clasp; also available in silver

Here are a few local stores that carry her wares:

Woodstock Designs, Woodstock

Wondrous Things, Croton On Hudson, NY

Glass Onion, Pleasantville, NY

Mary Stuart Designs, Lenox, MA

Hoadley Gallery, Lenox, MA