The road to finding the right custom jewelry manufacturer begins with dedicated research. Developing the right partnership for production from day one will ensure that your designs receive the attention and care they deserve. Once you’ve found some options, you’ll want to gather information to be sure that the manufacturer you end up with is a good fit for your practical needs, your creative vision, and your overarching business goals. Here are six questions you should ask while searching for the perfect custom jewelry manufacturing partner:
#1: Where do you source your materials?
A manufacturer’s relationship to sourcing is an important piece of the puzzle. What kind of materials you’re able to work with will determine the jewelry designs you can create and produce. Sourcing practices dictate whether or not a manufacturer will be able to create what you’re looking for, and their sourcing strategy will also provide valuable insight into their ethical stance, sustainability commitments, and more. In addition to inquiring about the manufacturer’s metal and stone inventory, you’ll also want to make sure you know where they source the materials. This will give you peace of mind and also empower you to pass those details on to concerned consumers who are committed to sustainability and ethics.
If you’re satisfied with their answers, ask these follow-up questions to get a better idea of the manufacturer’s process and capabilities:
- Do you provide authentication documents for your jewelry and the materials you use?
- Do you use lab-grown or naturally occurring gemstones?
#2: Do you have a sustainability certification?
Sustainability is a huge topic in the jewelry industry. Thanks to the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC), there are now established guidelines that every ethical manufacturer must abide by in the categories of human rights, labor rights, health and safety, ethical mining, and product integrity. Earning an RJC certification demonstrates that a manufacturer has satisfied the highest standards and follows the most stringent protocols. The Kimberley Process (KP) is another organization committed to supporting a more ethical jewelry industry by eliminating conflict diamonds from the global supply chain. Manufacturers with KP certifications commit to ethical sourcing and mining practices that do not contribute to political conflict.
Ensuring the ethical treatment of everyone involved in the sourcing and manufacturing process is an important element of creating jewelry, as is protecting the environment every step of the way. Find a custom jewelry manufacturer that has the certifications to back up their sustainability and ethics claims.
- How long have you been RJC and KP certified?
- What additional practices do you have in place to ensure ethical conduct within your business and along the entire supply chain?
#3: Where is your manufacturing facility?
Manufacturing location impacts more factors than you’d think; duties, shipping, and labor costs will all differ depending on where your jewelry is being made. Asking where your manufacturer’s facilities are located will help you estimate costs and timelines for creating and obtaining your designs. For example, if you’re based in the United States, a stateside manufacturer’s import taxes will be significantly less than that of a manufacturer based in China and could mean lower shipping costs. Manufacturers also need to deal with their own shipping costs when it comes to getting sourced materials to their workshops or warehouses, and those fees can lead to increased costs for you as the client.
- What are your shipping rates for completed orders?
- How long will it take to receive shipments once production is complete?
- Do you have flexible or expedited shipping options for urgent orders?
- What other costs are factored into the final order price?
#4: Which specialties do your jewelers have?
The jewelers on a manufacturing team can represent very different levels of experience or jewelry specialities. If you’re specifically looking for a bezel stone setting or an intricate engraving, for example, you’ll want to be sure that the jewelers at the manufacturer you choose will be knowledgeable about the associated disciplines. Make sure to ask detailed questions and talk through the types of designs you’re looking to produce.
- What are your jewelers’ specialties or primary techniques?
- How long have your jewelers been working with this technique or specialty?
- How many years have your jewelers worked at your company?
#5: Who are some of your current clients?
Hearing about a manufacturer’s clients can help you get a sense of their reputation. If they’re trusted by other reputable or recognizable brands, that should help boost your confidence in your decision to work with them. It will also help you to see what kinds of jewelry the manufacturer has successfully produced, or the specialties they’ve demonstrated in the world. The more you know about a manufacturer’s clients, the better you can determine if they’ll be a good fit for your brand.
- Where do your clients sell their work?
- Which client have you worked with the longest?
- Which jewelry line have you produced that you’re most proud of?
- Could you refer me to one of your clients for more information?
#6: Can I see samples of your work?
An established custom jewelry manufacturer will be proud to show you their work. They’ll likely have samples readily available, but if not, they should be able to offer samples on request. Check for examples of the techniques and materials you’re interested in using, and ask to see photos of jewelry samples that are similar to the design you have in mind. If you’ve made it this far, ask follow-up questions that will help you seal the deal and take your partnership over the finish line.
- Are there any benefits to producing multiple jewelry pieces at once?
- Do you offer discounts for large orders?
Consider which qualities are most important to you, and pay attention to the quality of your conversation; your customer service experience has already begun, so these fact-finding interactions are a great way to gauge a manufacturing company’s approach. Make sure that your questions are answered to your satisfaction and that you feel comfortable and confident at the end of the conversation. You should also feel free to conduct your own independent research beyond these questions; talk to other jewelry brands and look for reviews to get a sense of other companies’ experiences with the manufacturer you’re considering.
After collecting all of this information, you’ll be ready to make an educated decision about which custom jewelry manufacturer to choose. Make sure MJJ Brilliant is in the running; we’ve been in business for over 40 years, working with top retail clients and producing over four million beautiful products each year. Trust that your designs are in the hands of over 700 expert jewelers with years of expertise, careful craftsmanship, and the answers to these six questions ready to go. Contact us today for more information and to get started making your jewelry dreams become reality.