Look around you, you’ll see that jewellery is something that almost everyone buys, or – of they’re lucky – has bought for them as a gift. So although there’s plenty of competition on eBay there are a lot of potential customers too. And plenty of potential to source your own interesting and original jewellery and watch designs. Also on the plus side, jewellery is small and light (so shipping costs are rarely a worry) and generally offers good margins too.
Let’s look at how and where you can source jewellery and watches - this is a great line for the Christmas trade.
What sorts of products can you source?
Let’s be honest now, you’re probably not going to want to sell the kind of expensive lines you’d find on sale at London’s high-end Hatton Garden jewellery shops. That would cause all kinds of security problems, plus there’s probably not much demand for that sort of jewellery on eBay anyway.
Instead, think more cheap-and-cheerful costume jewellery. The sort of things that people will buy on impulse. Think of selling prices in the region
of £5-£50 or so. There can still be a healthy profit margin at this level. A good example is Cubic Zirconia (known as CZ in the trade), a popular kind of synthetic gemstone often found in more economically-priced jewellery.
Within that price range there’s a very wide variety of goods you can sell (and it pays to sell a range).
Here are the most popular categories, in order of popularity on eBay:
For Women: Necklaces & Chains. Bracelets. Rings. Earrings. Sets. Pendants & Lockets. Body Jewellery. Brooches & Pins. Bangles. Charms & Charm Bracelets.
Tip: There’s a good sized market for ethnic jewellery on eBay too, mainly Asian, so don’t overlook that.
For Men: Bracelets. Dog tags. Rings. Cufflinks. Ear- rings. Pendants. Chains.
Watches: Dress Watches. Sports Watches. Childrens Watches. Military Watches.
Remember you can sell both used and new jewellery.
Sources you can use
Here I’ll run through the main sources of jewellery and watches and some tips for getting the best from them. At the end of this report you can find some actual watch and jewellery suppliers to source from.
Wholesale. As for many other products, wholesale is the easiest source for jewellery and watches (if not always the cheapest). There are a lot of specialist wholesalers around. Try Birmingham’s jewellery quarter which is the European home of manufacturing and wholesaling.
Most jewellery and watch wholesalers have a minimum order quantity, often of £50 or £100 or so. But they’ll usually let you mix and match individual lines within that to make a range. If you’re buying a larger quantity always try to negotiate a discount.
Also try your favourite general goods wholesalers, who will often have a small costume jewellery range.
Tip: Look for ex-high street retailer and surplus stocks. This is often popular with customers and, even better, usually comes ready boxed or card mounted.
Import: This is probably the cheapest source you’ll find for jewellery and watches. But remember to allow for duty and VAT on top where appropriate, plus, of course, shipping. Rates of duty for jewellery can range from 0% to 7% on these products, though typically it’s 4.5%.
The cheapest export sources for jewellery and watches mostly tend to be in the Far East, especially countries such as China, Thailand and India. You can either approach them direct or use a directory site such as Alibaba Express or EC21.
Tip: Watch for fakes, especially when it comes to premium brand watches. You just won’t be able to buy genuine Rolex’s from Chinese wholesale sources!
Auctions: To be honest, this is a fairly small source but new jewellery is sometimes listed in surplus
and bankrupt retail stock sales. There are also some auction houses that hold regular antique and modern jewellery sales with many lots being unredeemed pledges coming from pawnbrokers’ shops. These are probably more suitable for the more experienced buyer.
Two specialist auctions to try include:
Fellows in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter Tel. 0121 212 2131
Wellers in Surrey
Tel. 01932 568678
Make it yourself! This might sound a bit odd, but it’s a viable option for jewellery, though not really for watches! And it could be ideal if you’re a bit crafty.
Here’s a very good reason for making your own jewellery to sell: you will be able to sell unique products that no one else has. No one else will be able to compete with you, or undercut you on price.
Making jewellery isn’t as difficult as it sounds as many items can be put together from kits of parts. You can buy these, including semi-precious stones and settings, from jewellery suppliers (some of which also sell jewellery and jewellery-making sup- plies on eBay).
Before you give it a go, come up with a good, fashionable design and cost it out, allowing for the cost of your labour as well.
Direct from craftworkers/manufacturers. If you’re not into making things yourself look for manufacturers, craft workers and hobbyists you could buy from directly. The online crafts marketplace Folksy (www.folksy.com) is one place you could try for contacts.
If you do this, it’s a good idea to ask them to make up some pieces for you to your own designs. This way you won’t be competing directly with them if they also sell on eBay.
Tip: When sourcing battery-powered watches (i.e. most watches today) check the age of the stock, especially if buying surplus. Batteries which expire after a few weeks are a common complaint with eBay watches and will not impress your customers!
Tips for selling
• Remember that fashions in jewellery, and to a lesser extent watches, change regularly. Not just individual designs, but silver, gold, etc., drift in and out of fashion. Try to keep up to date with the latest looks.
• Photographing your products is especially important, as small items can be tricky to capture – remember to use the macro setting on your camera. Jewellery often looks best snapped in a bright light against a dark, textured background. For necklaces, chains, etc., it’s worth investing in a jeweller’s bust.
• Always try to create ranges. That is, several items that complement each other (e.g. necklaces together with earrings) to generate multiple sales. Avoid stocking too many completely unconnected products.
• Items sold as platinum (over 0.5g), gold (over 1g), palladium (over 1g) or silver (over 7.88g) in weight in the UK must have a full set of hallmarks, proving that the metal is as claimed, by law. Hallmarks consist of three distinct stamps. More useful information at the Assay Office website: www.theassayoffice.co.uk . This is particularly important if sourcing from abroad.
Note: Items that are plated in a precious metal (the vast majority of inexpensive fashion/costume jewellery) do not require hallmarks.
Sell your item complete with a box, case or bag where appropriate. It looks much more professional and also opens up the gift market. These can be obtained from most jewellery wholesalers too.
Other sites for sourcing and selling jewellery & watches
I’m not for a minute suggesting you abandon eBay of course! But once you’re up and running you might like to try selling on some other sites, and there are a couple that are ideal for selling jewellery, particularly hand-made items. You can also find craftworkers to supply you using these sites.
Folksy: Basically, Folksy is a ready-made online crafts fair for your homemade craft products. You can set up your own store in minutes. Decide what you want to sell, set the price, then upload details and a pic. All payments are handled by PayPal. It costs just 20p per item to list things on Folksy and you pay them 5% commission on anything you sell. www.folksy.com
Etsy: Calls itself the world’s hand-made marketplace even though they also sell vintage items. Charges 20 cents for a listing and 3.5% commission.
Useful sources to get you started
Here’s a good selection of jewellery and watches to get you started:
Tel. 01502 581111
Wholesalers of sterling silver, fashion jewellery and fine-quality costume jewellery. Low minimum order value of £50.
Tel. 0208 534 1230
Aress Cash and Carry
Watch wholesalers. Many famous brands including Armani, D&G, FCUK, Adidas, plus budget watches.
Tel. 0121 554 5858
Wholesalers in Birmingham’s famous jewellery quarter.
Tel. 0616 839 9291
Based in Manchester, Deans Jewellery is a well-established supplier of wholesale costume jewellery and wholesale fashion accessories.
Tel. 01376 532 000
Wholesaler. Extensive ranges of gold, silver, diamonds and costume jewellery.
Tel. 07969 261629
Gift wholesaler whose range includes inexpensive jewellery.
Glitzy Jewels Jewellery Wholesale
Tel. 01509 265444
Quality wholesale fashion jewellery, costume jewellery, wedding accessories and wholesale hair accessories to the trade.
Tel. 01708 402581
Wholesalers. Specialists in plated silver and cubic zirconia. Low minimum order of £20.
Jewelry Discount Shop
Tel. 0844 414 2528
Nine carat gold, sterling silver, body jewellery at wholesale prices.
Jewellery 4 U
Tel. 86 057128290673 (China)
Jewelry4ustore.com is a professional jewellery man- ufacturer and wholesaler in China. Can supply more than 12,000 styles of fashion jewellery such as silver, pearl, turquoise, gemstone, shell, crystal jewellery. Delivers direct to most countries.
Wholesale fashion jewellery. Minimum order value is just £19.99.
Tel. 0117 982 1191
Wholesale gifts, watches and jewellery. Minimum order of £55.
Tel. 0131 220 4252
Jewellery wholesalers and watches including Rotary, Seiko, D&G and Citizen. Over 5,000 lines in stock.
Tel. +91 98714 03300 (India)
Manufacture and sell all types of sterling silver jewellery which includes pendants, rings, earrings, necklaces, chains, bracelets, bangle rings, silver beads, other silver articles, silver dinner sets, necklaces of precious and semi-precious stones.
Tel. 01243 787 062
Website: www.maxwatches.co.uk Wholesalers of inexpensive fashion watches.
Website: www.princess-jewellery.net Online wholesale site.
Tel. 01273 776415
Importers and suppliers of fashion accessories to the trade. Almost 2,000 different product lines.
The Bling King Wholesale
Tel. 01273 205507
The Bling King Wholesale are distributors of Bling Bling and Urban jewellery.
Tel. +86 579-85597585 (China)
Jewellery wholesaler and supplier in China. They supply more than 30,000 styles of wholesale jewellery. Export and ship jewellery worldwide.
Tel. +66 2 215 4747 (Thailand)
Wholesale jewellery supplier based in Thailand. Delivery to UK is possible within 3-5 days.
by Mark Hempshell
Business Opportunities Expert
Mark Hempshell is a regular contributor to What Really Makes Money. You can sign up for the free weekly eletter here:
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