Pricing Jewelry Focal Beads on Etsy – Tips for Polymer Clay Artists

Pricing Focal Beads on Etsy

1) Using as a research tool to help you set a price for your handmade jewelry beads.

2) Educating customers about the hand made process of making beads to help them better understand the value.

Both of the following questions were sent in by Shannon Stallard. They arrived in two separate emails so I’ve combined them here to fit my responses. The wonderful focal beads that she speaks of in her questions are the ones pictured above
. Beautiful work Shannon!

Q-1: Hey Cindy. My name is Shannon and I make awesome polymer focal beads, but I don’t really know how to price them. I have went on all the web sites, but it is getting a little confusing. Lots of sites tell me not to devalue my work just for other peoples sake. Can I get your point of view? ~Shannon Stallard

A-1: Pricing can be a tricky thing for a jewelry artist. The value of artwork comes from several different factors, some of them highly subjective. What one person loves, another can absolutely hate.

Quality of workmanship, cost of materials, style and even the reputation of the artist has a big effect on the price you can charge for a piece.

The web sites you visited that advised you not to undervalue your work, are right. If you charge too little for your beads and jewelry, it is hard for your customers to see the value in it. Charging too much means you may never sell anything. So what do you do?

A little online research can go a long way. With Google however, you do need to be a little bit careful because many of the search results will be for mass produced beads and jewelry… not exactly the best comparable.

In my opinion, a better jewelry pricing research tool is Etsy, the premiere online destination for handmade jewellery shopping (and selling). When I need to comparison shop, that is where I go first. If you type in ‘polymer clay jewelry’ or ‘focal beads’ into the search box at, you will find all sorts of comparables. And you know they are true comparables because they are all hand made. Etsy has strict rules about this.

My search today on ‘polymer clay beads’ brought up jewellery pieces  ranging from necklaces priced as high as $900 to charms priced at $0.20 each. So as you can see there can be quite the range of prices when it comes to polymer clay beads online!

When you’re searching, look for pieces that appear to be similar in quality. I like to sort from most expensive to least. You want the highest price possible for your beads without pricing yourself out of the market.

Don’t look at the cheap stuff first. Sometimes people are selling off their products way too inexpensively because they need more space, are going out of business or soon will be

When you find someone selling something comparable, check their ‘solds’ to see if people are actually buying their stuff. Just because someone has set high prices, doesn’t mean they’re actually getting them.

People who sell a lot of product for a decent price, know what they are doing. Study them. What does their store look like? Do they have good pictures? How do they describe their products?

Research is the only way you are going to price your products properly, unless you are a lucky guesser!

Shannon, just by seeing a photo of your stunning beads and the photos on Etsy, I’d say you could charge anywhere from $6 to $8 per bead if you sold them individually. Larger beads would sell for more especially if you added a bail and made them into pendants.

If you can’t get the price you would need to justify the time put in, either simplify your work or add some more value to your beads. Two $6 beads made into a simple earring set could easily get you $25, so sometimes it pays to do a little ‘value adding’.

Sets of individual beads usually sell for less per bead, but can be more appealing to a customer and you may sell more of them.

Q-2: I need some kind of explanation guide to let my customers realize how long this process can take, like from beginning to end, especially when making and using lots of matching canework that goes into one piece of jewelry. As you know I spent a few days and a lot of elbow grease on these beads through sanding and buffing and future floor wax (love this shine). Can you help? Love your site. Thanks. ~Shannon Stallard

        A-2: Years ago I heard a Marketing story about a beer company having a hard time competing with the other beer companies.

They hired a new marketing guy who asked them how their beer was made.

The company said, "Like everyone else… First we start with spring water filtered x number of times… then it gets mixed with so and so ingredients… then we do this to it… and age it for x… etc… etc." [I’m not a beer maker so the details of the process are fuzzy.]

The Marketing Guy responded with a big… "Wow! I had no idea there were so many intricate steps! Let’s explain this story to the customers because no one else is doing that!"

Well, the strategy worked. By taking the time to share these details in a creative and entertaining way, the customers automatically assumed this companies beer must be better then everyone elses… when in fact it really wasn’t too different at all. But perception is everything.

I told you that story because most of the time, people have no idea how much work goes into making things… like your beads and jewelery pieces for example. But if you take the time to share interesting stories about the process, they will probably hold you in much higher esteem as an artist. And you will then be able to sell your work for more.

If you have a hard time explaining the process to your customers, take a few pictures of the steps and make a little booklet to show them. Show everything from inspiration, to mixing the colors, to building the canes and so on till you get to the packaging.

You could also explain with your words or photos the ways you go the extra mile (like sanding and buffing) that makes your product better than the competition.

One lady in Etsy says in her description how many hours her beads have been tumbled and polished.

Sometimes it’s not the time you put in but the inspiration that makes your art special. Maybe there is a story you can tell that makes your art work unique.

So what I’m saying is, you need to educate your customer. We would not be willing to pay $1000’s for a diamond ring if we were not told why it was worth so much, would we? Same goes for your polymer clay beads!!

To Shannon and all the other polymer clay artists reading, hopefully this article about using Etsy as a research tool for pricing jewelry and focal beads was helpful. If you have anything further to add, please use the comments section below.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor



  1. Amanda, 11 August, 2008

    Was that price for one focal bead or for smaller beads, I have sets of 6 or 10 that are around 10-15mm across per bead.

  2. Cindy Lietz, 12 August, 2008

    Hi Amanda! That price I mentioned was for Shannon’s particular focal beads pictured above. It was only an educated guess. She can price her beads higher or lower if she thinks she should.

    The big thing about pricing art beads is quality, originality and reputation. Not every 10mm bead will be worth the same. The best thing is to start with comparisons.

    The ideas above will help you figure out what your specific beads are worth. And then with time you can adjust those prices according to your successes and losses.

    Cindy’s previous post: Make Polymer Clay Knobs | Glass Beads | Clay Color Mixing

  3. missficklemedia, 12 August, 2008

    This is a fantastic article on pricing polymer clay beads and pendants!

    It is very important not to undersell your work, as I did in the beginning of my online business. Once you price low, it is in my opinion, much harder to raise prices and keep customers, then it is to price a bit higher and come down if they are not selling.

    I, too sell on etsy and have found comparison research vital to my pricing. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Krista, 12 August, 2008

    I love this article, it has given me a ton of information. I have an Esty account, but have never used it for the simple facts you just covered. Pricing has been tricky for me. I use Ebay and take a risk, it has turned out well for me so far getting as much as $10 for a string of around 10 to 12 beads. But Ebay is killing me in fees, and opening an Ebay store is not any better. I want to used my Esty, but just can not seem to find a good price. I have done reserch on Esty, but still can not come up with one. I was not aware you could view somones sold items on Esty. Can you tell me how to do that? That would help me out a ton, because I am the one looking at the prices saying no way those beads are selling for that much. = )

  5. Cindy Lietz, 12 August, 2008

    @missficklemedia: Thank so much, I totally agree! I went to your store and I see you have been around since 2006. You are definitely a veteran! I love your work. So glad you’re here!

    @Krista: Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! The way to find the ‘solds’ on Etsy is to go the ‘Shop Home’. Scroll down the page and on the right hand side of the page under the heading of ‘Other Items’ you will see the number of sales. Click on that and you will find a listing of all past sales.

    The price is no longer listed but if you go back to their current listings you will probably find the same products with the price.

    It is not a bad idea to also check how long they have had their store and the types of things they are listing. All very helpful info when you want to set up your own store!

    A previous post by Cindy Lietz..A Fimo and Sculpey Cane Making Tip

  6. CraftyLinda, 17 August, 2008

    Cindy, I too have an Etsy store and am having trouble with the pricing. I read your article and am going to do a little more research. I have sold a few things. A focal bead just the other day. I had lowered the price on it two days before, so maybe I was just to high or maybe no one had seen it? I don’t like Ebay I have only sold a couple things there and they were not my polymer items. And the fees are out of this world. I learned a lot from your article and am planning on adding some new things to my Etsy tonight. Thanks

  7. Cindy Lietz, 17 August, 2008

    Yes CraftyLinda I’ve heard that about Ebay! I am regularly researching on Etsy and will continue to share my finds. Thank you for sharing your information… it will be quite helpful for others selling their beads and jewelry or planning to!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..A ‘Shiny-Beads’ Polymer Clay Tutorial – Make Your Own Buffing Wheels

  8. Shannon Stallard, 24 August, 2008

    Thanks for all your help Cindy, you have taught me alot of what I do. Kudos to you, and your skills. May you always flourish in the way of ART.

  9. Cindy Lietz, 24 August, 2008

    Thank you Shannon for your sweet words! It is my pleasure to help!

    Cindy Lietz’s last blog post..A Polymer Clay Tutorial About Adding Fimo Cane Slices to Round Beads

  10. Virginia S, 30 June, 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    I am starting a new jewellery business, and I am trying to put a price for my pieces. Have you ever calculated the price for a single bead (included the base clay, cane, materials, etc).
    I hope you can help me.



  11. Cindy Lietz, 08 July, 2013

    Hi Virginia, that is a pretty tough question to ask. Pricing is based on so many factors, including cost of supplies, tools, overhead, labor, packaging, the experience of the artist and whether or not the market can handle to price you’re charging. Then there is the artistic value and the quality of the piece to consider. Two people could make virtually the same piece and charge prices that are radically different. Depends on the artists skill level, their reputation, their ability to market the piece and where and who they are trying to sell it to.

    Be careful not to under price your work or you’ll be out of business in no time. You may find when you add everything up, that the price you would need to charge to actually cover your costs, are much higher than you thought. If your price needs to be higher, your finishing needs to be impeccable and the quality of your findings needs to be high, otherwise you will never get the price you need in the first place. Confused yet?

    Basically you are going to have to make your best guess and go from there. Adjusting your price and clientele until you find your sweet spot. Comparison shopping at places like Etsy can help to let you know what your competitors are charging for their pieces, and see where your work fits in.

    Good luck!

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