Handmade jewelry has been a sought after closet “staple” for decades. Whether it’s the only kind of jewelry you buy or something you picked up on vacation, you have at least one piece of handmade jewelry. What is it about something that’s made by hand that draws our attention? My theory is that an artisan’s personal connection and love of their craft transforms ordinary objects into jewelry masterpieces. Still, most people don’t understand the true value of handmade jewelry compared to its mass-produced counterparts. There are many reasons why handcrafted jewelry is more of an investment than pieces that are produced in mass quantities, so we thought we’d break it down for you! Below are 11 things you didn’t know about handmade jewelry.
1. You’re Supporting Real People
It’s hard to know exactly where your money is going when you buy from a big corporation. Investing in handcrafted jewelry means you get a connection with the artist. Whether you know them in person, or feel like you know them after learning their unique story, you can remember that your purchase supports a real person. This money is used to buy clothes, food, and vacations for someone whose artistic ability you admire. There’s something very rewarding about knowing your money will go towards something good.
2. A Story Behind Each Piece
When you wear handmade jewelry, you’re part of the story the maker or artisan is telling through their work. Each artist has a unique reason for designing jewelry. Their designs are sending a message. Maybe only you know the true meaning behind it, but you feel that connection between you and the person who created it.
3. No Mass Production Machinery Involved
By definition, handmade jewelry is literally just that, made by the “hands” of the artisan or maker. The pieces are soldered, sawed, carved, and shaped without the use of manufacturing machinery. A machine can crank out hundreds of units per hour while an individual can only make a finite quantity. Why does this matter? Attention to detail, my friends! Your handmade jewelry will be far less likely to have flaws and imperfections than something made in bulk.
4. The Value of Time
As previously mentioned, since there are no machines involved, it takes an incredible amount of time to produce just a single piece of handmade jewelry. As a designer myself, I often spend hours designing a single piece of jewelry for a client. Once the design is complete, it can take up to several weeks to make. That’s a lot of devotion, care, and attention to your piece of jewelry.
5. The Designer’s Process
The maker has a very intimate relationship with each piece or design they create. The design process is key to the value that is inherent in each piece. Emilie Shapiro talks about her process and says, “While creating jewelry, there is a very intimate relationship with my work. I know every curve and line is put there with intention. As a maker your energy goes into the piece.”
Machines can keep going even once the designer is gone. Handmade jewelry is different. Makers and artisans can only create a finite number of pieces in their career as a designer. Owning a piece of handmade jewelry means you likely have a limited edition which gives you a sense of exclusivity. Remember, they could retire at any time, making it impossible to get another.
In almost every case, the materials involved in a handmade piece are of stellar quality. It’s difficult to regulate or even know exactly what alloys are used in mass production factories where unexpected nickel or other metals can cause unwanted reactions. Handmade materials are generally sourced from highly reputable suppliers.
Jewelry makers are often dedicated to sustainability and ethically sourced materials. By nature, being ethical can be much more costly than taking the easy route and purchasing from the refiner or dealer with low prices and shady sourcing. Tagua jewelry designer Paola Delgado further defines sustainability: “By giving the artisans that we work with education opportunities and fair trade wages, we try to give them the tools to achieve financial independence and come [into] their own. For me, treating the people that you work with [with] respect is sensible and sustainable business practice.”
Smaller-scale production is almost always higher quality because the ability to track and control the process from start to finish is inherent in the making process. Makers and artisans are extremely proud of the work they produce. They aren’t going to let something of inferior quality leave their studio with their name on it.
10. Locally Made with Love
There is HUGE value in supporting local from a sustainability standpoint. Artisans and makers infuse love and energy into each piece of work and many designers use local products, materials, and people to help produce their creations. Along with the extra value inherent in handmade jewelry, you are also buying a truly unique product which helps to support communities.
11. Always One of a Kind
When you think about it, handmade pieces are always unique in their own way. No two pieces of handmade jewelry are exactly the same. Even if the handmade creation is part of an edition, you’re not likely to bump into someone wearing the same piece of jewelry as you at a party. You are the only person with that specific piece of jewelry which says a lot. From the finishes to the lines, they are always different or custom. It’s something just for you, every single time.
The next time you consider purchasing a handmade piece of jewelry, remember that even though the piece may be a little more costly than a mass-produced design, you are supporting something bigger than yourself. You should feel really good about your purchase knowing that you have a special piece of the artist forever in your jewelry collection.