Handmade Jewelry vs. Mass-produced Jewelry
What is the difference between handmade jewelry and mass-produced, manufactured jewelry? What makes handmade jewelry more of an investment than its mass-produced counterparts? One reason is the personal attention and energy that artisans place into their work. However, there are many other reasons why handmade jewelry is significantly different from mass-produced jewelry.
No mass production machinery is involved in creating handmade jewelry. Mass production is the producing of identical items in extremely large volume on a continuous basis. It is usually done on an assembly line by laborers who often use specialized machinery and have low skill levels. It’s popular because more products are made at a cheaper cost, thereby making the final product itself less expensive than handcrafted products. Handmade jewelry is literally made by the “hands” of the artisan. 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 fraction of the number of pieces in the same amount of time. There is a very intimate relationship between the piece and the artisan who creates it. The design process is essential. An artisan’s energy goes into each piece and every contour, color or texture is placed with intention.
Individuality: Mass-produced pieces are not created for a specific wearer, but rather to appeal to many people. Your local chain department store may have some attractive jewelry, but it’s not really symbolic of who we are as individuals because everyone is wearing the same thing. Handcrafted jewelry is original. You can pick a one of a kind piece of jewelry that embodies your individual taste. Even if the handmade piece is part of a collection, no artisan creates two pieces that are exactly identical. You are the only person with that specific piece of jewelry, which speaks volumes.
Value of time: It takes an incredible amount of thought and time to produce a single piece of handmade jewelry. As an artist, I know I often spend hours designing a single piece of jewelry for a client, and often times it can take weeks to create the piece.
Materials and Sustainability: In almost every case, the materials used to make a handmade piece of jewelry are of exceptional quality. It’s difficult to regulate or even know exactly what alloys are used in mass produced factories where dirty metals are blended together to create costume pieces. Handmade materials are largely sourced from highly reputable, ethical suppliers by the artisans themselves.
Quality: Small scale production is nearly always higher quality because the ability to track and control the process from start to finish is essential in the making process. 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.
Locally Made: There is much talk about “buying local” these days. By supporting small, local businesses, you are ensuring choice and diversity, maintaining community character and helping local economies withstand downturn.
Next time you purchase jewelry, which will you choose?