Friday, July 11, 2008

The Epic Necklace

My mom emailed me a few weeks ago and said she'd like something like this to wear to my wedding. So I asked, "Can I consider that a commission?".

Ultimately, I decided to make it as her birthday present. I had a few ideas as to how to get the 'broken' feeling. The Vivienne Westwood necklace is vermeil snake chain with glass pearls custom drilled to fit over the chain. For sure I knew I wanted my version to be all in genuine materials . . . so freshwater pearls and sterling silver. I thought about using sterling Accuflex wire and crimp beads but I decided the wire would look too thin. I had what I thought was a PERFECT idea to use liquid silver beads but my mom nixed that saying she thought they'd be itchy (Diva!). Eventually, I decided to individually wire wrap pearl sections to create my own chain. I achieved the broken look by dotting in sections using larger, misshapen pearls. A MONUMENTUS time commitment, this was. Probably about 5 hours all told.

With all the pearls, unusual findings needed, large quantities of sterling . . . I literally wouldn't have been able to make this piece at all if it weren't for Fire Mountain Gems. My shopping list consisted of 25 feet of dead soft sterling wire (didn't use quite all of it . . . maybe 3/4 of the spool), four strands of white button pearls, one strand of larger freshwater pearls, ten sterling split jump rings, A pearl drop in sterling, a kick a** clasp, and a sterling cross (I used one I already had, instead of buying). Grand total (at my 50 item discount level) (don't look, mom): $29.74. And, you know, HOURS of labor, but whatever :)

My mom is trying to convince me now to put a few larger, more expensive pieces in my shop. A necklace like this, even at only $30 in materials, I'd have to list for at least $120 to cover the labor and the risk of making a (comparatively) huge time and supply investment in an item that may or may not sell. What, oh blogfriends, do you think? Should I make something huge and epic for my shop, just as an experiment?


Nutsy Coco said...

First, it turned out great! Great job on capturing the feel of the original.

I think a more expensive item is worth a shot. I wouldn't knock yourself out filling your shop with them at first, but put in a few and see how they do. From the Etsy jewelry shops I've browsed for research, it seems like people are more willing to buy expensive earrings than anything. Probably because even an expensive pair of earrings still doesn't cost nearly as much as an expensive necklace.

HollyLynne said...

you know, the earrings thing really is true . . . but i make those 'grape bunch' pearl earrings for example, and the pendants take half as long (one bunch not two!) but i still feel like i have to list the earrings for less money . . .whats up with that?! such a weird bias . . .

Barbara said...

I like what NutsyCoco is saying -- people will invest a little money in the right piece.

I think you could consider creating just one extraordinary complex piece -- and then create an economy version of it. Kind of like Donna Karan has the DKNY line? The expensive version often drives traffic to the economy version.

It's a gorgeous piece. You should flaunt it. And having people see what you're capable of could give you a few commissions, too.

HollyLynne said...

i like the idea of doing two types! i'm sort of trying that out w/ my grape bunch pearl line . . .i have sterling and base metal options. its good to hear that you like that idea though, barbara . . . i've been unsure about it. like, would the low end items cut into my high end sales? i guess opitons are always good though . . . some people very much prefer sterling and will pay for it!

Barbara said...

Would the low-end options cut into your high-end sales?

I think, in this economy, that high-end sales aren't going to be that thick on the ground. :(
But the *lure* of the high-end product will still be there -- and the feeling it gives will still be there. Customers can get the feeling of the high-end piece, a little, with the low-end variant.

Like that beautiful necklace with the multiple strands and the trailing ends. What if you did it with glass-based pearls instead of real ones? Or in copper/brass instead of silver? You can also access the "warm" color market that way, too.

Just my two cents. Advice is like bellybutton lint -- everybody's got some. :)

HollyLynne said...

pearls are actually SHOCKINGLY cheap . . .but i totally love the copper idea! might try that! THANKS :)

Domesticrazy said...

That necklace is goddamn GORGEOUS! I am awed by your jewelry making and shopping skills, madame. Definitely a great idea to make the necklace and an economy version, too. Hell, yes. Earrings, too.

Your mom is going to look awesome at your wedding? So, what are you making yourself to wear on the big day? I MUST KNOW!

Domesticrazy said...

Your mom is going to look awesome at your wedding! The question mark was my brain, imploding.

HollyLynne said...

thank you!!!! for myself . . . i'm soooooo torn on this. i have to see what i end up deciding on the hair front before i can decide if i should wear a necklace . . . maybe a bracelet would make sense? i should TOTALLY ALREADY KNOW THIS!!!!

Domesticrazy said...

Meh. All you really need to know is that you're going to look great, have a splendid time and marry the dude you love. Oh-and things will go wrong at your wedding, so don't sweat it.

But I can't wait to see what you make! Incidentally-do you have a tuppins (two-pence piece) for your shoe?

ReFabulous said...

ABsolutely stunning. You are so talented! Your mom will look so lovely with that necklace. (And I love Fire Mountain Gems, too!)

I peeked at your wedding page... what a lovely place to be married -- so romantic and dreamy! I wish you and the boy the best of luck.

Dave Robertson said...

Hi, hollylynne,

Absolutely right, that is one beautiful necklace. Worthy of entering into a design contest, nudge nudge. (Like

Great work!

at Rings & Things