The Girlfriend's Guide to Jewellery
25: Methods of Manufacture: Labour 2011-08-06
Methods of Manufacture
The labour factor in a piece of jewellery can be a major part of the overall cost. Broadly speaking more time and finer hand craftsmanship result in higher production costs. Labour costs have two basic components: skill and time. The greater the level of skill of the hands doing the work, the higher the cost per hour of the labour will be. As labour is sold by the hour, the more time spent making the piece, the more expensive it will be. It is the combination of skilled hands and an artistic spirit to interpret a design with an understanding of the function of the piece that will result in the creation of a sensational piece of jewellery. Remove or skimp on any one of these elements and it will show in the finished piece.
All of these elements are present in the making of a one of a kind custom piece. It is the rare client who can have a hand made, custom designed, ‘one of a kind’ item of jewellery created. More often this level of skill, talent, time and expense is reserved for a ‘master model’ created for a jewellery-manufacturing firm. From the master model hundreds or even thousands of copies will be made. Every detail of design, finish and weight in the original master will be reproduced in every copy. In this process the considerable costs of crafting the master are spread out over a vast number of copies. The fixed costs of producing each copy are the cost and weight of the precious metal used and the time required for the finishing each unit.