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Hi, I just happened across your site while getting ideas for my wire wrap gemstones and sea glass.

The fact that you give away information, don’t insist personal information, has bought my business already.

To add to the joy (yes, I’m prone to hyperbole but I’m absolutely enchanted with your business model), you add stone treatment information rather than burying it somewhere.

It’s very important to me to be able to tell my customers the what’s been done to their stones, the quality, source and composition of the gems they buy.

I believe I’m the only vendor to have the FCC and AGIA disclosure booklets available at any festival I’ve attended.

You have a customer now and, if OK, I will use your page on stone treatments, with proper attribution of course, as a handout at my next festival the end of this month.

Brightest blessings,


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Stone Treatment Codes

(B) block
(C) coated
(D) dyed
(E) enhanced
(H) heated
(I) irradiation
(F) infused
(M) man made - synthetic
(N) natural
(O) oiled
(P) pressed
(S) stabilized
(W) waxed

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Ethics and Integrity

Jewelry Show Etiquette

Rules, expectations, and tips on how to have a successful art show selling jewelry.

 Jewelry Show Etiquette


Jewelry Show Etiquette


You're doing your first show selling your jewelry, a bit intimidating isn't it? You wonder if people will like your work if anything will sell, will you forget anything? Take a deep breath and realize that many people succeed at selling at shows and there is no reason why you can't.

I am going to do a series of articles on selling jewelry at shows. The topic is so huge there is no way I can do it all at once. In this article, the focus will be on show etiquette. Yes, there is etiquette and whether or not you know the written and unwritten rules could make or break your experience. To see other articles on selling and other topics relevant to the jewelry trade check the articles page. Also, sign up for the Magpie Gemstones newsletter to be informed when new articles and free tutorials are added.


Be on Time

Show up early or at least be on time. Have your booth set up and ready to go long before it needs to be. See if you can't go the day before and do it in the allotted time. Practice at home if you need to.

The show promoter is probably as stressed and as nervous as you are and probably more so. Having all the booths filled and ready to roll when the doors open is their job. If they look across the lawn or the room and see your table empty they will remember you and not fondly. They need to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be, and not breaking any of the setup rules so the sooner you are done the sooner they can breathe a sigh of relief about you and focus their attention on someone else.


Be Prepared

Have everything you need for yourself, your display, and the process of selling with you. You will feel more secure and you won't be adding stress to the promoter by seeking out forgotten items.


Stay Positive

Even if you are sure the show is slow because the promoter didn't advertise or that big huge booth with the plastic bracelets is the reason, do not complain. When the promoter asks how it is going tell the truth but be positive. "This show is about half of what I usually do but the venue sure is nice and I am meeting a lot of great people".

When other vendors whisper "how are you doing" come up with a saying that covers the bad shows "I can't complain, no point in complaining since no one listens to me anyway (big grin)".

Misery loves company and in the moment the neighbor vendors will love you complaining along with them but in the long run, they will remember you negatively. The promoter may overhear you and remember you negatively and two years later when they do have a rocking show they will choose someone else over you. Clients can overhear you and they will be less inclined to buy. People are attracted to positive energy, so give it to them.

At the same time try not to be pompous. Listen to vendors and their fears, complaints. Be a good friend. They might have some very astute observations and they have the relationship with others to make changes so support them in their perspective while not making it yours (yet).

Some shows just suck. It could be you have the wrong items, wrong prices, or the show is really slow. Maybe the circus on the other side of town has all your clients that day. It is a learning curve getting into the right venues and knowing how to set up to attract the clients you want. Just write it down to the process of getting into the business. We had one show that always was a fantastic show, then one year it rained and we just bombed. Another show that was always really slow but we never had anything else on that weekend was a huge hit because it did rain and all the other vendors left out of frustration. You just never know.

Most times vendors will think the show is slow in the beginning and middle, but in the end, they do ok but until the weekend is over they will grumble. Don't let their grumbling get to you. It is easier to do that if you are aware of the propensity to vendor grumbling. It only takes one client with a boutique to turn a bad show into one of your best. Keep a smile on.


Show Culture

At your first show be aware there will be a pecking order. There will be folks who have been doing either that show or that promoter's shows for years. They want to be respected and honored.

Most groups will run you through some kind of gentle hazing to see what they think of you and whether or not you will be a friend or competition. They will come check out your work, inspect your display, maybe criticize your pricing. Treat other vendors as resources and greet them with a smile and a generous attitude. Old timers really do like to help so if they give you advice consider it and thank them for it, try not to take it personally. They know all the shows, the good and the bad. If they like you and see you as a friend they will want you to be at other shows so they will help you get in.

Offer to watch their booth when they need a break. Share your bag of cookies, offer to get the coffee when you run to get one.


Stealing Customers

Never talk to a client who has either left your booth for another's physically or mentally. Do not go out in the isle and draw people into your booth. Also if someone is mentally done with your booth and their eyes have cast on the one next door and they are drawn to something there do not pull them back. Nothing upsets a vendor more than someone stealing a client's focus from their work. Help client's find what they need. Direct them to other vendors. Take them over physically and introduce them to the other vendor if you can. Spread the love around.


Dealing with Problems

If you have an issue with a client or a vendor find the promoter (when they aren't swamped) and ask them for advice. Let them know you understand they are busy but since you are the new kid on the block you need some advice. Quickly tell them the issue. That grumpy old guy in the booth next door might have just found out his wife has cancer and everyone is cutting him some slack. Imagine how the group would look at you if you went off on him because he moved his table six inches into your space!


Stay Open

Stay open for the whole show. If it is slow there is drive to just pack up early and go home. Never do it. Even if everyone else does you have a professional contract and you need to stay there. The promoter will remember you and it may pay off in the future. The other vendors will look negatively at vendors who leave early. When there are open spaces it hurts the people next to that space in sales. Stick in there for everyone else if not for yourself. If something horrible should happen and you really do have to pack up and not come back, tell your neighbors why with an apology.


Know When to Leave

When the promoter says it's time to go, be sure to get your clients finished up and have your tables covered and your out pronto. They want to go home and their insurance may only be covering certain hours.



Park, unload and quickly move your vehicle. Park away from where the clients will park. Leave them room to park easily and come on in.


Know Your Place

Stay in your allotted area. Do not spread out further than you are allowed to. It might be for fire regulations and if the promoter gets a fine when the fire Marshall comes-a-visiting that won't sit well. Also when setting up take as little room as possible so you do not obstruct others doing the same.

Being a Good Neighbor

Look at your booth from the perspective of the show organizer and your neighbors. From where they are can they see garbage under your table? Do your table clothes look misshapen from the back (from another vendors booth). Can they see your lunch wrappers spilling out from behind your booth? Is your table set up so that their booth can't be seen from the front door? Expand your focus out from where you stand and look at the space you are using from everyone's perspective and try to clean it up or arrange it to complement the show as opposed to competing.

Remember the grumbling vendor? If they are looking for an excuse to complain that they aren't doing well make sure you don't stand out to catch their attention.


In Conclusion

Think of doing shows like fishing. You have your gear, your bait, you scoped out the fishing hole but sometimes the fish don't bite, and sometimes they do. It is all a part of selling at shows. Also by following these guidelines your show experience will be much less stressful. If we know what is expected of us then we don't get the eyeball from the vendor who has been there for years. It feels much nicer to fit in than to be the focus of negative attention.


Szarka has been selling at shows for over 20 years and presently runs a gemstone and jewelry business out of Washington State. Please visit her website to learn more about her.


**Contributing authors are noted in the articles they wrote. All articles are copyright. You can reprint these articles as long as the original author is sited and a link to this website is included. The name Magpie Gemstones must be used as the hypertext.

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