The term handmade, or handcrafted jewellery are terms which are usually reserved for a type of jewellery which is made by an artisan craftsman who is designing, making and usually promoting their own jewellery business. This is a different type of business to the large ‘commercial’ concerns (henceforth called ‘commercial sites’) and whilst their jewellery may not always be made by machine and might well be made by hand, it is not usually such a personal service in the way that an artisan’s business can be.

So the term handmade or handcrafted has come to mean, in the main, those artisan jewellers who are running small businesses and are making their own jewellery.

How can you easily and quickly tell the difference on the internet between a smaller handmade jewellery business and a larger commercial business? Start a search on Google for a type of jewellery, for example ‘handmade pearl jewellery’ (or handmade gemstone jewelry) and see what comes up. Always take a quick look at all the sites on the first two pages on the search results to see the differences between them – most people do not and they often miss something they really would like and it only takes a few minutes to find your favourite jewellery.

After having looked at a few sites you will spot some differences. Photographs of the jewellery often look very different between the commercial sites and artisan sites – commercial sites can usually afford a photographer and studio using artificial lighting and often jewellery is photographed on a white background. On an artisan site however, quite often they take great pains to produce photographs shot in a natural environment using natural daylight. Always use the expanded view feature to see if you can see the jewellery clearly, an expanding photo which doesn’t expand much isn’t much use to anyone. After all you want to see the goods really clearly.

Commercial sites are more geared up to selling mass produced jewellery and they tend to err towards conservatism in terms of design. Invariably the artisan jeweller will produce different designs, or an imaginative re-design on a classic item. Artisans are physically unable to mass produce goods so your jewellery will be more rare and unusual. You may want it longer or shorter, with gold and not with silver option, you may well have the ability to have things just as you want as artisans hand-make with care as it is their passion in life.

Of course artisan jewellers may not always be able to send the item out that very day you order. Whilst we all want our ordered goods as soon as possible, remember that sometimes your artisan jeweller may be making your jewellery just for you and that might mean a day or two later. An artisan jeweller also usually displays themselves as the individual behind the business whereas this is not usually the case with larger commercial sites – even if the website name is a person’s name.

As for prices, artisan jewellers tend to have lower overheads and less large investment than commercial sites who really have to buy large amounts of stock. This is then often reflected in the fact that artisan jewellery is usually less expensive, or is better value.

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