Jewellery+e-commerce: It’s not what you think!

E-commerce caveat

What did we learn from e-dealing with vintage jewellery and objects over the years

By ZLR Betriebsimperium

Selling online is an additional step to promote your work. However, before you plunge into the e-commerce-euphoria, you should consider the following:

1. Customs. The war on global trade includes controls and fees which may influence your maker’s price and delivery deadlines negatively.

2.  The brand name is crucial for buyers. Transactions are easier for long established companies than for newcomers.

3. The recognizability / price ratio. It is more probable that a customer buys a 5,000 euro silk screen copy signed Andy Warhol at the e-shop of an established – bricks and mortars – gallery than a 500 euro silk screen print at the e-shop of a – relatively – unknown artist without a non virtual address.
4.  What art or craft discipline is involved? Textiles, art prints, decorative objects made of stone or bronze are easier to sell/buy online than glass, oil paintings, ceramics, precious jewellery.

5. Do the customers need to try it on? Does a non-virtual shop exist somewhere nearby, for the customer to take a closer look at the item before purchasing it?

6. Customers’ satisfaction also depends on the postal or courier services chosen. Sometimes e-traders receive complaints or see their reputation damaged due to the negligence or faults of postal services they cannot control.
7. Return policy is a big caveat. Before you start an e-business ask yourself if you can afford to have fragile or damageable/worn-off-through-use items returned which you’ll have to refund. Two weeks or one month free trial is something common and regular in e-business. On the other hand, if you opt for a no-return/no-refunding policy (the buyer takes the whole risk) you see your e-traders’ chances nullified.
8. Jurisdiction. Which court, in which country, in case of a dispute? Would you risk to buy an expensive object you have never seen before if you knew that in case of a dispute a court in a country far away from home, working in a language you do not speak, following a different legislation than the one in your own country will decide upon the matter?
9. The hosting platform’s policy. Many platforms hosting e-businesses and e-payments do not care whether the claim of your customer is valid or pure fiction. They refund your complaining customer immediately (often without your prior agreement; or even threatening you to close down your account, if you protest or refuse the transaction.) Hosting platforms certainly do not ensure the complaining customer returns the item to you before refunding him/her. This e-shop and e-payment platform practice can be a great tool in the hands of crooks who keep the object, get their money back and – if they wish – destroy your reputation.
10. Meaningless correspondence devouring your time and energy. It is not unusual that customers bomb you with questions – already answered in your e-shop profile – before they buy something; if they buy at all… Remember: the less standardized the objects you sell are – and art objects are unique pieces – the more questions you’ll have to answer.


ZLR Betriebsimperium is currently curating an innovative e-Residency programme for visual artists and writers in Greece. “Helen’s Dress” takes place in Vamvakou, Greece (22-27 June 2020). Τhe international e-Residency is realized by the Vamvakou Revival team as part of the project “Vamvakou Revival”. The Vamvakou Revival project aims to bring new life in a small mountain village in Laconia, Vamvakou, by drawing on the history, human capital, and natural wealth of the region. The project is realized by the Vamvakou Revival team under the guidance and with the financial support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

Covid-19 changes the way we understand, promote and sell jewellery. Photo credit: Christoph Ziegler, 2020.04

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