How to Start a Jewelry Business: A 9-Step Guide (2023)

For many creatives at heart, a hobby like jewelry making is a great way to unwind after a long work day. But what if those creations start garnering attention from friends and even strangers? At this point, you might ask yourself, “Could my hobby become a business?”

Learning how to start a jewelry business requires an understanding of the industry. For one thing: It’s crowded out there. The global jewelry market is expected to be worth $418.9 billion by 2026. However, there’s still room for newcomers who can find an untapped niche or bring a fresh perspective to the craft.

If you’re looking for a creative way to make money, read on. This go-to guide to starting your own jewelry business includes advice from the pros, tactical takeaways, and inspiration from established designers and business owners.

How to start a jewelry business in 9 steps

  1. Find your niche in the jewelry industry
  2. Research the market and trends
  3. Define your brand
  4. Produce (or source) your jewelry products
  5. Set up a jewelry business studio or workspace
  6. Take professional photos of your products
  7. Build your ecommerce store and start selling jewelry online
  8. Market your ecommerce jewelry brand
  9. Scale your business

Starting your own jewelry business online is a great low-investment business idea for makers, but crafting skills aren’t necessarily required (more on that later). That’s why jewelry is one of the most popular things to make and sell online. We consulted two jewelry designers and asked them to share their own personal experiences in building a brand from scratch.

1. Find your niche in the jewelry industry

A woman wearing a yelllow dress models fruit shaped earrings
Wolf & Moon

There are several categories within the jewelry market—everything from cheap and cheery plastic beads to fine-art precious metals and gems. One of the first questions to ask yourself is: What am I going to sell?

You can opt for fine jewelry or costume jewelry (also known as fashion jewelry)—or something in between. Each category has its own materials, production process, price point, and customer profile:

Fine jewelry đź’Ť

Fine jewelry is at the top end of the market and can be identified by the following qualities:

  • Made with precious and semi-precious metals and gems
  • Higher price points
  • Made with excellent craftsmanship, usually not mass produced
  • For the luxury, wedding, and special occasion customer

Fashion or costume jewelry đź“ż

Costume jewelry is the type of jewelry you see everywhere in chain boutiques and low-to-mid price range online stores. You can spot it by its properties:

  • Usually trendy, following fast fashion trends
  • Made of inexpensive or less expensive metals and materials (beads, wire, plated metal, plastic, synthetic gems, etc.)
  • Lower price points
  • Can be mass produced (and often is)
  • For the everyday customer

Artist-designed jewelry 🎨

This category captures everything in between. Handmade jewelry requiring specialized skill and mid-range materials are found here. This jewelry will also have the following qualities:

  • Materials somewhere between inexpensive and precious (textile, metals, semi-precious gems, wood, 3D printing, etc.)
  • Uniqueness of design (collectible, made to order, one of a kind)
  • Highly skilled craftsmanship
  • Price point varies but usually mid-range to high depending on the artist’s popularity or the amount of labor required
  • Occasion or statement pieces for the design-savvy, collector, and gift-giving customer
Close crop of a wrist modelling a cuff style bracelet
Camille Enrico jewelry is known for its unique combination of metals and textiles—giving pieces instant recognizability and cohesiveness with each other.

Once you’ve narrowed down the broad category for your startup jewelry business, it’s time to carve out a niche for your products. Start by defining your ideal customer (classic, trendy, brides, socially conscious consumers, etc.) and decide if your products are occasion-specific (wedding, party, everyday, etc.). This will determine how you market them to your target audience.

Two people wearing silicone engagement rings pet a dog
Enso found its niche with an audience looking for alternatives to metal rings—active customers and those with metal allergies. Enso

Jewelry products and categories

Once you’ve decided on your market, consider whether you will sell a number of product types or focus on one item. For example, you may want to niche down and specialize in engagement rings or go broad with a collection of mix and match fashion pieces.

Consider the following products for your jewelry company:

  • Rings (sized or adjustable)
  • Necklaces (chokers, pendants)
  • Bracelets (bangles, cuffs)
  • Earrings (drop, clip-on, studs)
  • Engagement and wedding rings (engagement, for men)
  • Watches
  • Toe rings, body chains, and other body jewelry
  • Piercings (nose, navel)

Also consider complementary products and categories. Jewelry brand Wolf & Moon sells its signature styles in both hair accessories and bags.

A woman in a red gingham dress lies on the floor holding a heart shaped purse
Wolf & Moon

2. Research the market and trends

Successfully launching your brand in the jewelry space requires a knowledge of trends and thorough market research. Before you start developing your brand and products, it’s essential to know your audience and gather inspiration.

Following jewelry trends

Researching trends is one way to determine (and validate) your chosen direction. Read fashion and jewelry blogs and follow fashion influencers and popular TikTok creators in the space to stay on top of trends for each upcoming season. Look to other jewelry designers for inspiration.

An article about jewelry trends on InStyle magazine
InStyle

And, don’t be afraid to dig into some data. Using Google Trends, you can also see broad global search volume for a particular term.

An example of a Google Trends page comparing jewelry keywordsAlternatively, you might look into adjacent consumer trends, such as the appetite for customizable experiences like engraving. Or tap into the growing trend of sustainable shopping habits by using ethically sourced materials.

But business owners don’t have to just follow trends—you could also use your jewelry business to start your own. That’s what Biko founder and designer Corrine Anestopoulos did, launching her collection based on personal style.

A woman wearing silver jewelry leans on a table
Biko’s jewelry sits somewhere in between costume and fine, selling high-quality designs made for everyday wear.

“Somehow I felt like, just by fluke, I found a market for something new without meaning to,” Corinne says. “But it was just my taste.” When she launched, Corinne was working with a brassy finish. “Nobody else was doing that,” she says, noting that shiny silver was the trend at the time.

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Now, though her collections evolve with trends in the jewelry industry every year, the common thread is a recognizable look that defines her brand and secures repeat business.

Finding jewelry design inspiration everywhere

Success as a newbie in any facet of the fashion industry depends on strong aesthetic, unique design, and consistent branding. Before hiring a designer to develop branding or crafting individual pieces, business owners should run through a few exercises to define their overall signature style.

An example of a digital mood board with color swatches

A mood board made using Pinterest
An example of how designer Jen Pace Duran gathers inspiration into digital mood boards using Pinterest. Pace Creative

Depending on how you like to get inspired, you may set up Pinterest boards, design your own digital mood boards, use a jewelry design mobile app, or even assemble inspiration physically on a bulletin board or in a sketchbook.

I’m always drawing inspiration and collecting inspirational images, no matter where I am.

Corinne Anestopoulos, founder, Biko

Collect images, colors, and textures from nature, architecture, fashion, or travel, and then identify themes that emerge. “Never stop being inspired,” says Corinne. “I’m always drawing inspiration and collecting inspirational images, no matter where I am.”

The Adobe Create user interface
Use tools like Canva or Adobe Create to assemble inspiration in a digital mood board. Adobe Create

đź’Ž Essential reading: How Direct-to-Consumer Jewelry Companies Are Changing Everything

3. Define your brand

Successful jewelry businesses all have one thing in common: a rock solid brand. Remember, brand is different from branding. Brand is your voice, mission, vision, and your brand story. It tells your potential customers how to feel about your products. Fashion purchases are often emotional, and emerging brands can win customers by connecting on a personal level, even through something as simple as a business name.

Telling your brand story and finding your voice

Your brand guidelines will inform everything you do as a brand. This essential document will capture everything from voice and tone to mission and values. It will be useful in keeping your communications consistent even as you scale.

Best practices for jewelry brands:

  • Understand your audience. How do they speak? What tone and slang would resonate with them?
  • Establish a brand voice and tone guide.
  • Tell your story through your About page.
  • Inject yourself into your social media posts by sharing the process and inspiration behind your designs.
Example for an about page on a jewelry ecommerce store
Anice Jewellery’s About page tells owner Britt’s personal story.

Packaging, logo, and brand identity

Branding refers to the tactical elements that represent your brand visually: logo, packaging, business cards, and your website.

Once you’ve established your products’ aesthetic, chosen a business name that resonates with your audience, and nailed your customer profile, it should be easier to identify an overall look that will define your brand. This is an essential step, even for a small business, so don’t rush it.

Branding design tasks to complete as a new jewelry business owner:

  • Decide on fonts, colors, and photography aesthetic.
  • Develop the logo yourself using a free online logo maker or hire a pro.
  • Create a library of brand assets, including multiple versions of your logo and other design elements that will appear on packaging, social media, and your website.
  • Choose a recognizable domain name to help your customers find and remember your website.
  • Design product packaging and creative shipping materials to match your branding.

A velvet ring box showcasing a diamond ring

Frank Darling
Frank Darling’s branding is consistent across every customer touchpoint, from packaging to social media content. Frank Darling

For larger budgets, work with a designer to translate your vision into a full branding package for your business—from the logo and website to packaging and marketing materials. Peruse the portfolios of Shopify design experts to find a designer whose work resonates with your tastes.

💎 Tip: Keep in mind that you’ll still want to reserve some of your budget for professional product photos. We’ll discuss the importance of photography for jewelry later in this post.

Writing a jewelry business plan

A formal business plan may not be necessary if you don’t plan to pitch your idea to investors or seek other forms of outside funding at the start. However, checking out a few business plan templates may be a good exercise to help you understand your target audience, goals, business model, costs, and growth plan. It’s also helpful as you learn how to run a jewelry business.

Your business plan can outline your brand’s mission and values, which will help you align with the right investors for your business.

đź’Ž Essential reading:

  • How to Start Your Own Brand From Scratch in 7 Steps
  • A Guide to Brand Storytelling [Free Worksheet]

4. Produce (or source) your jewelry products

Jewelry tools on a wooden table
Burst

How you’ll develop your products—by hand or in a factory, at home or outsourced—depends on the complexity of the design, price point, materials, and required skill level. In this section, we’ll discuss how to start a jewelry business through five production and sourcing methods:

  1. Handcrafted jewelry production: fine and one of a kind
  2. Handcrafted jewelry production: fashion and costume
  3. Jewelry production: factory outsourced
  4. Jewelry production: print on demand
  5. Jewelry curation: dropshipping and resale

1. Handcrafted jewelry production: fine and one of a kind

A hand models a fine jewelry ring
Rachel Boston

Handcrafting fine and one-of-a-kind (OOAK) jewelry can be one of the most involved yet personal and versatile of the production methods.

Depending on materials and design, some methods of fine and OOAK jewelry production require specialized training/certification and expensive equipment. You may need to learn some of these methods, including:

  • Soldering
  • Silver/goldsmithing
  • Casting
  • 3D printing
  • Laser cutting
  • Leather tooling
  • Weaving
  • Gemstone setting

đź’Ž Tip: Consider starting with free online tutorials to learn how to make jewelry. You can then upgrade to paid classes or apprentice under an experienced craftsperson to expand your skill set.

2. Handcrafted jewelry production: fashion and costume

Silicone jewelry necklaces displayed on a wooden tray
One Chew Three creates silicone fashion jewelry for moms with teething babies. One Chew Three

Handmade costume jewelry often involves the assembly of existing elements—chain, wire, beads, cast pendants, etc.—and doesn’t require special training or equipment beyond basic hand tools.

This type of business is easier to scale, as you can purchase elements in bulk and create templates for assembly by hired production staff.

If design and production are the elements of your business that bring you joy—and not the actual task of making jewelry—outsource or hire for other roles to help you scale the creative work.

Biko founder Corrine reaches out to local universities with renowned fashion communication programs to find her interns. “I don’t ever look for anyone who’s interested in design,” she says. “What I need is someone to help me free up my time so that I can be designing more.”

3. Jewelry production: factory outsourced

Rather than making the jewelry with your own hands, you can have your designs manufactured by someone else. This isn’t ideal for fine, custom, or OOAK jewelry, but it can be cost-effective for fashion jewelry produced in larger quantities. There are two main options for outsourcing to a jewelry manufacturer: local and overseas.

  • Local manufacturing has the benefit of a “made local” appeal and creates easier opportunities to build relationships and have factory oversight. The downsides can include higher costs, limited choice, and production volume limitations.
  • Overseas manufacturing can be a good solution if you want to keep costs low (for those doing high volumes) and have more choice in factories. Possible challenges include communication barriers, less oversight, and fulfillment issues caused by supply chain delays.
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Accurate sketches or 3D renderings of your designs are necessary if you’re outsourcing to a manufacturer. There are several options, depending on your skill level and budget:

  • Manual design tools: pencils, sketch paper, jewelry design templates ($)
  • 2D or 3D general design software: Photoshop, Illustrator, SketchUp ($$)
  • Jewelry-specific design software (best for fine jewelry): RhinoGold, MatrixGold ($$$)

4. Jewelry production: print on demand

The most hands-off production method involves uploading your designs to a print-on-demand app. Your original designs are 3D printed or recreated in stainless steel, wood, plastic, gold, or silver and shipped directly to your customers.

The Shopify App Store is packed with companies that can turn your designs into a number of goods, from mugs to t-shirts to jewelry.

Printify website showing a product page for jewelry print on demand offerings

5. Jewelry curation: dropshipping and resale

If you’re not creative but still have a passion for jewelry, consider resale and curate jewelry pieces from other designers to sell in your own online store. You can carry inventory and ship it yourself or opt for a jewelry dropshipping model.

With dropshipping, there’s no need to carry any inventory. Sell products through your online jewelry business and the orders are shipped directly to your customers by the vendor.

5. Set up a jewelry business studio or workspace

Jewelry tools arranged in an organizerIf you elect to make your jewelry in-house, you’ll need a workshop space for you and your team. When setting up this space, consider the following:

  • Maneuverability. Consider the flow of the space, especially if the assembly has multiple steps—do you move from one station to the next in a logical sequence?
  • Safety. Some chemicals or tools involved in jewelry making require proper ventilation and safety precautions. Check with local laws governing use of these substances and processes.
  • Storage. Well-organized multi-compartment storage is essential for small parts.

“A jeweler’s bench, a flex shaft, and your safety would be the most important considerations,” says Gillian Johnson, founder of Canadian jewelry brand Hawkly. “The flex shaft is a wonderful and versatile tool that you can use for drilling, finishing, and polishing your pieces.” She also advises using a face mask and safety goggles—and for those with long hair to pull it back so it doesn’t get caught.

If your production team is larger or your requirements are a little more complex—as with metal work or silversmithing workshops—consider commercial space outside of the home. If it’s out of your budget at launch, look into co-op studio space or share the costs of space and equipment with other creatives. Gillian splits her studio with two other businesses.

Space sharing also helps combat entrepreneur loneliness, something Corrine is familiar with. “After doing Biko full time for a while, I ended up working at a retail clothing store once a week just to not be lonely at home in my studio.”

A green jewelry box containing rings and other jewelry
Aurate

Jewelry equipment and tools

There are several online resources for how to make jewelry online, including wholesale jewelry making equipment, tools, and supplies, including precious gemstones and raw metals.

Gillian relies heavily on word of mouth when it comes to her wholesale suppliers. “Don’t be afraid to ask other designers where they find their supplies,” she says.

She also attends trade shows and industry events to continue to expand her network and discover new materials. “My favorite place to source the newest stones and silver findings is the Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show,” Gillian says. “There are thousands of vendors from all over the world.”

6. Take professional photos of your products

A woman leans her head on her hand while modelling jewelry
Hawkly

Product photography can make or break your online store. This is true across many industries but is especially important for brands in the fashion industry.

In many cases, with a very simple lighting setup, you can achieve great DIY photos of your products, even with your smartphone. Jewelry, however, can be a little more challenging, due to the tiny details and reflective surfaces.

Don’t skimp on photography.

Corinne Anestopoulos

“Don’t skimp on photography,” Corrine says, even if you’re on a budget. A professional photographer is skilled at making models feel comfortable and setting up complicated lighting.

Other additions to your photoshoot team include stylists, makeup artists, and assistants.

Hiring models doesn’t have to break the bank. “There are always people who are looking to build their book or willing to work for product,” she says. “It’s not about taking advantage of people—you’re all new to the game. If you get a group together and join forces, you can create magic together.”

When shooting your photos, it’s also important to offer several different views and angles of your products within these two categories:

  • Product photos. These are clear shots of the product on a clean background to minimize distraction and highlight the details and different angles of the piece. These photos can create a clutter-free, consistent look on collection pages.
  • Lifestyle photos. These are secondary shots, usually on a model to show scale on the body and suggest styling ideas to customers (often great for upselling—you can nudge customers to combine multiple pieces into one look). These shots can work on product pages or in a lookbook and are generally better for social media posts.
A lookbook on Hawkly
Hawkly’s lifestyle shoots become lookbooks to mark each season’s collection. Hawkly
Side by side product images of the same earrings on a model and against a white background
An on-the-model shot shows scale and styling, while a product shot zooms in on the details. Ana Luisa

Looking for more ways to cut costs? Partner with complementary apparel brands to reduce photography expenses or lend your jewelry pieces to fashion editors for photoshoots in return for product photos and exposure.

đź’Ž Essential reading:

  • How To Photograph Jewelry: Jewelry Photography Tips
  • Perfect Product Photography: Craft a Perfect Setup
  • A 6-Step Guide to Natural Lighting for DIY Product Photography

7. Build your ecommerce store and start selling jewelry online

Jenny Bird
Jenny Bird

Now that you have your production, brand, and photography nailed down, let’s put it all together. To start your own jewelry line, you don’t need an expensive and complicated website to be successful. You can set up a Shopify store using a free theme, customized with your brand assets, fonts and colors.

Choose a website template that complements jewelry, putting the photography first. Here are a few Shopify theme suggestions for jewelry businesses:

  • Dawn (free)
  • Influence ($)
  • Editions ($$)
  • Showcase ($$$)

Clean themes are designed to let your products and brand shine and most options allow you to easily customize the experience, even if you’re not a designer or developer.

Essential pages and content

A collection page on Wolf & Moon
Wolf & Moon

The following pages and details are essential for an online jewelry business’s website:

  • Homepage. Large lifestyle photos here immediately hook a visitor. Keep this page clutter-free and focused on new and trending products and collections with a clear CTA.
  • Collection pages. Slice and dice your products into collections by type, price point, material, or occasion.
  • Product pages. Product pages include essential information like sizing, materials, and care instructions. Feature several photos here to cover every angle.
  • FAQ, Contact, and About pages. These are critical pages for any ecommerce store. Focus on customer service and telling your brand story.
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Across all pages, website copy should reflect your brand voice and inspire emotion (what do you want the customer to feel?) while also being detailed and helpful. Product descriptions should pull in your brand story while also providing technical information.

đź’Ž Tip: Have a little more budget? A Shopify Design Expert can help you tweak themes and build unique pages within our overall ecommerce website design.

Apps for jewelry businesses

There are several apps in the Shopify App Store you can add to your site to help with how to run a jewelry business—everything including improving the customer experience, reducing returns, and increasing conversions. Here are a couple examples recommended for jewelry businesses:

  • Loox – Photo Reviews & Photos. Collect and add customer photo reviews to your site.
  • Instagram Shop by Sauce. Create a shoppable gallery from your Instagram feed.
  • Kiwi Size Chart & Recommender. Build custom size charts to help customers make informed purchases.

đź’Ž Tip: Learn how apps and tools can help you replicate an in-store personalized shopping experience online, and take the quiz to find out which tools are best for your jewelry store.

8. Market your ecommerce jewelry brand

Fashion and jewelry are heavily saturated industries. How will customers hear your voice above the noise? A good marketing strategy will depend on your product, audience, and budget and may require some trial and error. Customer acquisition will be an ongoing concern for your brand—here are a few ways to get started.

Social marketing

Making jewelry sales doesn’t mean having to bombard your followers with sales pitches. Corinne recommends filling the gaps between product-focused posts with inspirational content. “After a while, you’ll realize that you’re inspired by a similar stream of things and it tells its own story.”

Focus on each social network separately, testing content to see what sticks. Each platform has its own vibe—TikTok is known for authentic and quirky short videos while Instagram is better for more polished photo and video content. It’s still possible to gain some traction with organic posts, but consider paid social media campaigns to drill down on your demographic and increase reach.

Collabs and influencer marketing

Corinne has also had success with Instagram influencers, bartering product for a dedicated post. Before reaching out, she says, be sure your curation and hashtags for Instagram are strong so influencers can see if your brand aligns with their own. “Creating a lifestyle around what you do is worth more than anything,” she says.

Influencer marketing offers a level of social proof you can’t get with straight advertising. Younger consumers increasingly trust social media creators for product recommendations. Shopify Collabs is a great place to connect with influencers looking to promote your product.

Another way to take advantage of organic marketing is to collaborate with other brands. This can be done through co-marketing a promotion, running an event with other brands, hosting a tandem giveaway, or even partnering with a compatible brand on a new product.

Ecommerce product page showing a jewelry collab between Barbie and Kendra Scott
Kendra Scott partnered with Mattel ahead of the release of the Barbie film with a line of jewelry commemorating the famous toy. The brand benefited from increased search and marketing efforts around the release.

Public relations for jewelry brands

Jewelry marketing can have unique challenges. Noticing heightened competition in 2011, Corinne invested in a rebrand of Biko and then hired a PR firm to get the word out. “It’s expensive to work with PR but really, really valuable,” she says. “It led to the best press I had to date. I sold $5,000 of one particular bracelet after it was featured.”

đź’Ž Tip: Experiment with every marketing strategy, from ecommerce SEO to email marketing, and analyze results to see what works best for your brand.

Pop-up retail, wholesale, and artist markets

Corinne’s career began when she was invited to share a booth at a local clothing show. At the time, jewelry was simply a hobby. She sold out on day one of a two-day show, validating her idea and helping to turn her passion into a business.

Markets offer the opportunity to get out and see customers in person and get feedback directly.

Corinne Anestopoulos

Attending a handmade market is not only a great way for emerging brands to gain exposure to built-in audiences and validate an idea—they’re also important for established online businesses. “Markets offer the opportunity to get out and see customers in person and get feedback directly,” says Corinne.

An alternative to participating in markets is to host events in your own studio. “Sample sales are a good way to liquidate older merchandise and also invite people into your space and process,” Corinne says. Or, if your own space isn’t conducive to visiting, host a pop-up in another retailer’s jewelry store.

Corinne also grew her business initially through consignment and wholesale agreements, which she gained by approaching local retailers in person. Cold calling has a high rejection risk, but you just need one “yes” to get started, she says.

9. Scale your business

Biko earrings arranged on an organic fruit surface
Biko

For new businesses, start small by pitching your designs to local boutiques. As you scale, you can work your way up to larger partners. Wholesale still accounts for the bulk of Biko’s overall business, and Corinne has worked with large retailers like Nordstrom, Simons, and Hudson’s Bay.

Another way to scale involves opening up to new markets. Explore international shipping options to see if your product can be sold globally. Try expanding your jewelry line with new products and collections to reach a wider local audience, too.

Start selling jewelry online now

Taking the plunge might be scary at first, especially in a market as saturated as jewelry. But it’s also an industry you can enter gradually—many successful jewelry designers debuted their brand as a side gig or launched businesses from a kitchen table.

The best way to stand out is to be authentic, trust your design instincts, and listen to your customers.

Gillian Johnson, Hawkly

Small-scale production means you can get designing from your own home. All you need is a niche, a brand, and a basic business plan. And, there’s still room for emerging designers to make their mark. “The best way to stand out is to be authentic, trust your design instincts, and listen to your customers,” says Gillian. Go for gold!

Feature illustration by Pete Ryan