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by SARBANI NYC March 17, 2020 4 min read

We will be the first to admit it: Handcrafted jewelry is a significant investment. And while many people appreciate the beauty of unique handcrafted jewelry, they often don’t fully understand the value of it. 

So, whyis handmade jewelry more expensive than its mass-produced counterparts? There are five main contributing factors:

  • Jewelry design process
  • Time investment
  • Advanced techniques and skillsets 
  • Materials used
  • One-of-a-kind nature

Read on to discover the work, expertise, and materials that go into each piece—and why you should consider handcrafted over mass-produced.

Time Invested

Perhaps one of the key reasons handmade jewelry is so valuable is the amount of time involved in creating every single product. As the name implies, each piece is made by hand with little to no machinery. The jewelry is soldered, sawed, carved, and shaped with no mass-production manufacturing machines. While that type of machinery can pump out hundreds of units per hour, an individual artisan can only create a finite quantity in the same amount of time. 

Rooted Ring by Mirakin

In fact, one piece of handcrafted Indian jewelry can require anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of work (or more). This means that by the time all is said and done, it could take up to a month to finish one item.

Designers and artisans take great pride in their work. Every item goes through an arduous process that includes elaborate quality control in order to ensure it is made to perfection.

Techniques Used

It takes a very skilled hand to perform each technique involved in the jewelry design process. In some situations, older generations of Indian jewelry artisans use a technique others do not know.

Not to mention that many different hands will touch every product. Depending on the type of jewelry being made, it may require an individual artisan with a specific skill for each piece. These areas include:

  • Stonework 
  • Pearl work
  • Metalwork 
  • Enameling 
  • Assembly
  • Cast-making
  • Finishing & polishing

That is a lot of areas of expertise! Just imagine the time and many years of knowledge and experience that are pored into one pair of earrings or one necklace

Cuffs and Statement Ring by Astha Jagwani

Jewellery by Astha Jagwani is a powerful example of this craftsmanship. The designer employs local Indian artisans who are trained in the traditional Indian techniques. Between her unique design aesthetic and the highly skilled artisans, Astha Jagwani is able to produce jewelry that is infused with both traditional and modern elements.

Sourcing High-quality Materials

When it comes to handcrafted jewelry, most artists search for the highest quality materials. This covers everything from the base metal to the plating to the stones and more. Many designers are constantly on the hunt for even better materials, refusing to sacrifice quality for price.

For example, Valliyan uses pure copper as the base metal in many of their pieces because of its superior properties; in everything else they use brass. Most high-caliber fashion jewelry designers use brass, an alloy of copper, as their base metal.

Jeweled Hoops by Valliyan

Other valuable materials used by many jewelry artisans include Swarovski crystals, semi-precious and glass stones, hand-carved stones, acrylic, wood, and silk. Many, like ours, are then finished with real gold plating between 18 and 22 karats. Sourcing these takes many hours of research and design work to create one-of-a-kind pieces. 

With mass-produced jewelry, on the other hand, it is often very difficult to track exactly what materials have been used and if they are even of good quality.

Jewelry Design

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that there is a great deal of creativity, passion, and love infused in a handmade piece of jewelry from both the designers and the artisans. 

Many designers, like Outhouse Jewellery owners Sasha and Kaabia Grewal, are constantly pushing the envelope to come up with unique designs. Each of the designer sisters brings her own style to the table, which results in every piece being a work of art. Their jewelry, like that of many other handcrafted jewelry designers, embodies their culture and heritage.

Faith & Flower String Necklace by Outhouse Jewellery

Another benefit of shopping handmade is that you can often request customized jewelry. Traditionally, many families in India have a family jeweler who designs and creates custom jewelry for them. This personal touch has always been valued in Indian jewelry.

Any pieces from our selection can be customized. We have even ordered completely new custom jewelry for brides and their parties! It’s a wonderful way to make your special occasion even more special by adding your own personal flair.

One-of-a-kind Piece

Perhaps the best part of investing in handmade jewelry is knowing that each piece is truly unique, and no one else will have a piece quite like yours. Every item is hand-beaten, hand-cut, hand-set, and so on, ensuring slight differences and imperfections from one product to the next. This is the intangible element that makes every handmade piece of jewelry special.

Mass-produced jewelry is designed by a jeweler, sent overseas to be produced, and uses mass-produced stones and materials as well as machinery to mold the pieces. Laborers typically only get involved at the end of the process to sand and polish each piece. These accessories are not unique or made specially for you.

As Valliyan CEO and Creative Director, Nitya Arora, explains, “Complaining and not appreciating it would be like criticizing a Monet or a Picasso and expecting it to be like a computer graphic.”

Valliyan Founder Nitya Arora

Why Choose Unique Handcrafted Jewelry

The integrity, craftsmanship, and one-of-a-kind design are what set handcrafted jewelry apart from mass-produced products. Choosing handmade accessories also means you are supporting local, self-made businesses.

When you are in search of a unique bracelet or shoulder-duster earrings, consider investing in handcrafted jewelry and supporting talented designers and artisans. Plus, you’ll receive a wearable work of art that reflects your own style!

Shop our full selection of handmade statement jewelry today.

Stephanie Chabot, Style Editor
Sarbani NYC

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