Two years ago, this would have cost me $120. And if you think that pile of beads looks like quite a lot, go to my web site and take a look -- many of my bracelets have four to five silver beads and a silver toggle in the mix, and those bags have 10 beads each, so it will go fast.
When I first started making jewelry four and a half years ago, I bought silver at $4/ounce. Now, it's $20/an ounce -- an increase of 500% -- up 35% just this year alone, and we're only in March! That is a LOT for either me to absorb as a designer or you to absorb as a customer. Silver is by far the most popular metal I work in, but the cost of it, particularly for the beautifully detailed beads and toggles I use, shows no sign of coming back down any time soon.
So why is it so high?
Some say it's because China launched precious metal futures trading in January 2008. Some say it's due to silver riding the coat tails of gold's meteoric rise to nearly $1000/ounce. And of course historically, precious metals go up when the dollar is down.
What does this mean for jewelry designers -- more specifically, me?
It means I'm going to work even harder to create unique things. Jewelry is not a necessity, and there are many, many jewelry options out there, so this (hopefully) temporary rise in the cost of supplies will make me push myself to create with more "oomph".
I will NOT be using silver plated anything. It wears off over time and when I see what my Early Lori Anderson pieces look like now, with the plating worn off in part or all the way -- I just can't bring myself to ever use it again. Copper, brass, bronze, yes. Plated, no.
I'm in this for the long haul, so I'm going to treat this hike in silver as a bump in the road that I have to drive over, a bad storm that I have to weather. There's no reason why I can't continue to make pretty things, and I promise to make each piece worth every penny.
To see silver in action, visit www.lorianderson.net