What's a Fair Price for Gemstone Beads?

Category: Buying Beads

Why beads are so expensive
On eBay, most buyers are looking for a bargain, but what's a fair price for beads? Machine-made beads are extremely cheap to manufacture - especially when most are from low-income countries. So why do beads cost so much?

The most expensive part of any product is the work-time involved. Not just that of the factory workers, but all the other people. Four or five middlemen may handle your beads before they reach you: the manufacturer, the exporter, the importer, the wholesaler, the retailer, and two or three shippers. Each middleman has expenses. Transportation and storage don't come cheap.

Often beads will crisscross the globe before reaching your local supplier. They may have originated from Tibet, then transported by train to a factory in the South of China. Then to a wholesaler in a large Chinese city, who then sells them to another wholesaler in the outskirts. Then they might go by truck to Hong Kong where they're stored, packed, and then travel by air to the customer's country and by road to your door. Sounds like a lot of work: it is!

Out of a bead merchants stock, only a few types of beads sell well, the rest gather dust taking years to recover their costs. Other beads get lost, damaged, or go out of style quickly. And often the merchant can't restock his top sellers because the wholesalers have run out too.

Then there's the cost of retailing. Shop rents and taxes are crippling, still payable throughout the off season and holidays. Online selling is cheaper, but a web store without visitors is useless. Hits cost money - marketing and advertising is a substantial cost of your beads. Auctions like eBay cost the seller over 10% of the retail price, and that's before the expense of getting paid. Paypay, credit cards, and bounced checks are expensive.