Jewelry Makers and EMERGE App Inventory Management
The history of jewelry dates back to a time far before human civilization. In fact, it started with the Neanderthals in Europe who made perforated beads made from small sea shells. Elsewhere, ancients used bone, teeth, berries and stone to fashion crude necklaces and bracelets. Later, in prehistoric times, jewelers fashioned designs made from copper and other soft metals.
Fast forward to the 21st Century. Jewelry making is still around today in many guises. The market ranges from mass-market jewelry to rare, bespoke pieces commissioned by discerning clients. They all have one thing in common: jewelry pieces need some assembly or manufacturing to turn them into final wearable pieces of art.
And the best way to manage your production of jewelry prices is with inventory management software. In fact, Orbis Research recently rated EMERGE App the number one solution for jewelry inventory software. Read on to see why we’re recognized as the firm favorite with indie jewelry designers and creative entrepreneurs around the world.
Here, we’ll briefly cover jewelry making as a business. Then we’ll explore how jewelry retailers and manufacturers use technology in their business and operations. Finally, we’ll show you how you can use inventory management software, such as EMERGE App, and simple production orders to create final jewelry pieces.
Jewelry Making as a Business
For a small one-person workshop it might be acceptable to use inventory cards, spreadsheets or even physical checks. But when you start to scale up production, small and medium-sized businesses need inventory management software. More staff means it’s not possible to keep costs and inventory figures in solely your head. There needs to be sharing across the business.
Jewelry making, as a craft, really took off with the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks and the Romans. They hammered and molded gold and silver into a myriad of shapes and sizes. Then inlaid them with colorful and semi-precious stones. Not surprisingly, intricate and ornate jewelry often indicated one’s status in the dawn of civilization.
The same still holds true today. But the market is a lot more accessible for today’s consumers. One can buy simple and ornate costume jewelry, dally with affordable silver and white gold designs, or spend large amounts on dazzling pieces with rare metals and precious gems. There’s a piece of jewelry for all budgets and tastes.
E-commerce first comes to mind for jewelry makers and retailers. Just like other physical products, jewelry’s small size lends itself beautifully to online shopping and fulfillment by global postal services. There’s even drop shipping available for personalized rings and necklaces if that’s how you roll. Businesses typically produce mass market jewelry in a low-cost country and then ship them to developed markets.
Then there’s the maker movement and jewelry. We covered this in our other blog post about integrating Etsy with your handmade products. Here, we’ll focus on how indie jewelry makers can use inventory management software to handle the heavy lifting in the background, freeing up time for them to focus on what they love doing best.
Inventory Management for Jewelry Designers
Compared with ancient times, the new technology and modern processes available to jewelry makers today are mind-boggling. With 3D printers, one can design and print micro earrings. Laser cutters make short work of wood and metal to engrave and shape pendants. Metalsmithing uses new soldering methods to produce intricate designs. Even fiber can be worked with to produce custom cords.
Like many others in the grassroots maker community, jewelry makers share the same issues and pain points with an inventory. So whether you’re producing handmade artisanal soap or fashioning pendants, you have to deal with things that you use to make your product. Hence, you need to keep track of inventory for both raw materials and the final product.
For jewelry crafting, metals are typical raw materials that you must stock. Sterling silver is popular because it is durable, soft and cheap. Gold alloy comes in white, yellow and rose variants. Platinum is the rarest, most expensive and most durable of all metals. Titanium is hypoallergenic but not easy to work with because of its hardness. Finally, earrings are made from stainless steel because it is hypoallergenic as well.
Also, depending on where you are in the world, you’re also likely to stock an assortment of beads, precious and semi-precious gemstones. Traditional jewelry in India, for example, uses a lot of aluminum alloy and beads. In Europe, you might find amber, freshwater pearls, coral and jet (black fossilized remains of trees) used to decorate jewelry.
Even More Inventory Management Features for Jewellers
Inventory management for jewelers isn’t just about managing raw materials and finished pieces. Modern inventory management software, such as EMERGE App, keep track of your sales orders and purchases too as finished goods make their way through your workflow. Here are some deeper features that can help jewelry makers focus on their craft by increasing operations efficiency and smoothing the workflow.
Multi-matrix product variants
If you have a range of pieces offered in various precious metal finishes or gemstones, then you have product variants. Ready-to-sell pieces may come in silver or gold variants. Emeralds might be the choice of semi-precious stones. Others might prefer rubies or topaz to match their birthstone. With various product permutations and combinations, you need to keep track of the raw materials that go into each finished piece.
Flexible units of measurement
Each raw material used in jewelry making has a different smallest unit of measure. Beads are commonly sold in small sacks of various sizes. Twine and cords can be found wound around spools and are sold by the feet. Precious metals in sheet, strip and foil form are measured in inches. Metal wire comes conveniently coiled and is sold by feet. Casting grains for smelting is sold per troy ounce.
Using EMERGE App you can issue a production order for a traditional necklace, for example. When the final piece is produced, the raw materials that went into making the necklace are automatically deducted. Also, the finished necklaces are added to the final inventory. So, the stock levels of raw materials and finished goods are updated all the time.
A Simple Manufacturing Example for Jewelry Crafters
Unless you’re a pure online retailer for finished jewelry pieces, you will need to deal with raw materials and production orders for your final products. Some raw materials even come in a semi-finished form, for example, jewelry chains in various precious metals can be bought in ready-made cable, box, rope and mesh designs. Then you combine semi-finished goods and raw materials to produce your final jewelry pieces.
So, whether you’re running a high-end, bespoke custom jewelry service or fulfilling orders over the Internet or at Etsy, you need to keep an eye on your semi-finished and raw materials. Their quantity will inform you about how many final pieces you can fulfill if you have a waitlist of customers. Or how much you need to fulfill your sales orders.
Here’s a fictitious example of how you can use EMERGE App to manage small-scale production and meet your orders. Take your eye off your inventory stock levels and you will have long fulfillment times and unhappy customers. Manage your inventory well with inventory management software and you’ll spend more time crafting and less time troubleshooting.
We will be making a traditional Indian necklace for our simple production order example. This is typically made by artisans working with a small pot to smelt aluminum beads and cotton twine to string the metal designs and beads together. Traditional jewellers use a small hammer and anvil to shape the soft aluminum into the final design.
1. Add beads as a raw material
Beads of all shapes, colors, and sizes are used in traditional Indian jewelry. Here we will add red oblong beads that are used for threading between intricate alloy metal designs. Handmade beads, as raw materials, are sold in small bags of 200. Hence the smallest unit of measurement is a bead while the larger one is a bag.
2. Add aluminum cast grains as a raw material
Aluminum is sold as casting grains. These are melted in a small pot over a fire. They are small beads of aluminum that are perfect for weighing how much you need to cast an original design. Excess waste is avoided since you can measure how much you need for a project. Such grains are sold by the ounce and kept in sacks. Hence the unit of measurement here is the ounce.
3. Add cotton twine as a raw material
You need cotton twine or cord to string the aluminum designs and beads together. While it is an organic material, it provides enough strength and yet flexibility so that the final piece can be worn comfortably around the neck and move with the wearer. It is sold by the feet and is spun onto spools of 20 feet. The unit of measurement is feet here.
4. Create a necklace product that uses these raw materials
We create the traditional necklace as a product in EMERGE App. Within the product, we must inform the system that it requires raw materials. Thus we add beads, aluminum cast grains, and cotton twine as raw materials used in its production. The production order will list these same raw materials as components of the final necklace before you start it.
Most importantly, we need to tell EMERGE App how much of each raw material a traditional necklace needs. This is for costing and inventory purposes. So, you need 2 feet of cotton twine along with 20 beads and 5 ounces of aluminum casting grains. Hence, scaling up production of traditional necklaces means that these raw materials used will also be scaled up in proportion.
5. Issue a production order to make the final product
In EMERGE App we create a production order for the number of necklaces required. We’ll go with 10 necklaces for this example. Thus, a finished product quantity of 10 means that your production order will use 20 feet of cotton twine along with 200 beads and 50 ounces of aluminum. This is proportionate to the raw materials needed to make one traditional necklace.
When you finally issue this production order, the software will deduct the quantities and amounts used from the stock of beads, twine, and aluminum. The balance of the raw materials stock is how much you have left. The physical inventory level in EMERGE App will have another 10 traditional necklaces added to it.
We’ve covered how to issue production orders for jewelry pieces. But how about keeping track of their production costs as well? Tracking production costs is critical for accounting and financial reporting for your business. In EMERGE App, you enter the cost per unit, the landed cost per unit, and production expenses per unit for production orders.
Jewelry making has had a long and storied history. Its newfound resurgence in the past years was due to the maker movement, new technologies, and online creative platforms such as Etsy. Jewelry makers can leverage inventory management software used in other manufacturing industries to control costs and inventory of raw materials used to make final jewelry pieces.