When you're shopping and wonder about the price of handcrafted gemstone jewelry, there are many product features to consider that affect the final price. I can't speak to manufactured jewelry since I don't make that personally. I will address a couple of things so you can sleep better tonight knowing all this.
Did you know...?
1. Larger links of sterling or 24kt gold-filled chain cost more than smaller links. Here size does matter. More metal means more expensive.
2. Finishes on a chain cost more.
If it has filigree or special markings, is diamond cut or oxidized rather than just a solid shiny finish, that took more time to make. I love to use oxidized sterling chain, because it doesn't tarnish, and I love the modern look of the deep grey chain.
3. Genuine Swarovski crystals cost more than the other glittery knockoffs. They have tested at 21% lead crystal - the real deal. Side by side comparisons are really obvious. I only use these types of crystals in my work when I list crystal, so you know it's a quality product.
As far as safety when wearing, Swarovski stands by their manufacturing process that creates a matrix which greatly slows the mobility of lead, and poses no significant risk to human health.
3. AB Finish
What is that anyway? The brainchild of Swarovsi and Christian Dior. Sometimes a Swarovski crystal color is listed with an AB finish. It means "Aurora Borealis", named after the Northern Lights because their special coating reflects a multitude of colors.
Through a steam finish, an extra fine coating of metal is appled on one half of the crystal, giving it an extra glittery sparkle, and in some colors, a completely different tone or color. There is also an AB 2X finish for even more variety.
I use this type of crystal often in my work, especially in clear, taking the look from sparkly flat glass look to truly magical crystal sparkle that you simply can't ignore.
Certain shapes cost more than other shapes of the exact same size and color, probably due to the number of facets. Ex: a round crystal costs more than a bicone cut crystal.
4. Wirewrapped beads and stones
It is MUCH quicker to create simple loops when connecting stones, beads or crystals. That is also the reason that much of the inexpensive costume jewelry on the market today falls apart in short order with a little wear or catches on clothes, as the loops are not closed tightly and work their way open allowing the pieces to break. More labor equals more expense.
All expensive stones or pearls should be wirewrapped to ensure durability. Next time you are shopping, pay the extra for quality construction.
This is when stones and crystals have all those cuts or sides on them for extra sparkle. As you would see on well cut diamonds or fine gemstone (rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc.) it allows the light to enhance the beauty of the stones. This process costs more than a flat finished gemstone, so keep that in mind when browsing a table. Cut adds value.
So now you know a little more about the process when browsing the jewelry tables at the local craft market.