How much is too much?

According to Rio Grande,  the price of silver today was $33.70 an ounce.  This is the highest price silver has been since 1980 when it dectupled from $5 an ounce to $48.70 an ounce. It could be good news for your portfolio if you’ve invested in silver, but as a metalsmith who prefers using silver clay to all other types of silver, this is very bad news.  (The only good news here is that I got to use the word “dectupled” for the first time in my life, and I’m a word person. How nice it would be if  the next time I use it would refer to my annual income!)

Whatever the going price of an ounce of silver, the price of an ounce of silver clay is about 56% higher. If I were to buy a 28 gram package of metal clay today, (that’s just about an ounce) it would cost  $51.94. And that’s with the discount I get from having taken a certification course from Rio Grande. Those who do not qualify for the discount would pay $59.94.

Here is what a 45 gram package of silver clay looks like. It’s the size I usually buy:

I bought some on January 27, for a workshop I’m taking next weekend and paid $75.57 for this walnut-sized piece of clay. If I ordered it today, I would have paid $85.42.  One year ago, the same package cost me $58.36. The prices of my jewelry on Etsy reflect what I paid a year ago for my silver. I am not going to raise the price on pieces I already have listed, but anything new will have to reflect the skyrocketing cost of silver. Especially if it’s made from Precious Metal Clay.

(Strike through made on an April 18 edit)

So, how much am I willing to pay for the silver clay I so love to work with?  $75 a package may just be my limit. Luckily I still have some sterling silver sheet from 6 or 7 years ago, when silver cost under $8 an ounce. At least copper is still pretty inexpensive. It’s time to rethink some of the designs I was planning to make with metal clay and come up with something different.

I’m fortunate that the first jewelry technique I ever learned was how to cut sheet with a jeweler’s saw. I still have the same saw frame I used over 30 years ago and it has served me well.

Hello old friends…..

15 Comments

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15 responses to “How much is too much?

  1. Having worn the earrings I got from your etsy store every day, I can say with certainty that they are very well-made and sturdy, and now I know why. Glad I got them before the silver price hike! Love seeing how you create your pieces; it truly is a craft and so much more valuable than “made in China.” Here’s to dectupling your income!

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    • Barb Fernald

      Aw, thanks Nancy. You are in my thoughts daily my new friend. Someone from our island is going in for brain surgery in a week. I’ll be in good practice for keeping the prayers, good energy, positive thoughts (whatever you want to call it) going for her by the time you get your surgery done.

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  2. what workshop are you taking next weekend?!
    that price is a killer…i’m more likely to head toward polymer than the other metals….(i’m eyeing those unfinished HEAVY bezels we made at celie’s with RECYCLING in my heart)

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    • Barb Fernald

      Oh man. I can’t believe I forgot to tell you. Fred Woell is teaching a workshop at his house on Deer Isle. “New Tricks to Beadmaking Without Cores.” I can’t wait to see what he has come up with. I’ll tell you all about it. But crummy timing with the price of silver. I don’t know if he works with bronze or copper clay. But I bet I’ll be using some of the techniques with base metal clay.
      You know, I sent in some silver scrap to buy PMC for this class. It was the only time silver took a little dip back to $26 an ounce. Wouldn’t you know. But then again, I got some PMC for the “lower” price too.
      So, how much do glass supplies cost….?

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  3. LeAnn

    I just cracked open a packet of silver clay that I’ve been hoarding for a year. It seemed so expensive then and now it is just too expensive for me to replace at the moment. But, sadly, there is just nothing like the surface of polished silver.

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    • Barb Fernald

      I know what you mean. And the silver clay polishes up so nicely. Ah well. Back to the many grits of emery paper, the metal files, the tripoli and the rouge, to get the shapes and shine from silver sheet. It really changes the delight of working with silver clay when it is so expensive. “Precious” metal clay indeed!
      Good thing we are all creative, and will rise to the challenge. Your bronze, copper and ceramic pieces are so beautiful, I won’t miss the silver.

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  4. oh, have fun with fred…i’m so glad to hear he’s teaching…
    i CAN’T WAIT to hear about the workshop!

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  5. Great to see you use “dectupled”. Always good to grab the opportunity to use such words when you can ;-d
    I just looked at ordering more PMC today and decided not too! Just seemed too much. I’m happy that I’m trying new media and enjoying them….It wouldn’t seem as bad if the silver price was just a temporary thing…but I doubt it. Makes me think of ” what you’ve never had, you don’t miss”. We all had the lower silver prices and never thought of them as “low” but now it seems so wrong to pay such a high price for something we got so much cheaper a few years ago. Enjoy your class….and don’t think of the silver price while you are there!

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    • Barb Fernald

      Thanks Ruth. I know I will enjoy it and enjoy catching up with Fred. It may be the last time I work with PMC for a while, so I intend to have a blast! Then again, I am an addict, so I’ll probably keep paying more for my “drug of choice” PMC.

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  6. We knew silver prices had gone up but haven’t bought clay for a while!
    What a shock when we saw the prices you listed! So Angie and I spent the day gathering up silver jewelry we haven’t worn for decades. A little blast from the past! And gleefully added metal clay pieces that didn’t quite work out the way we had envisioned and fired some dried out lumps of clay to add to the pile. Hopefully we’ll have a bit of credit with Rio at the end of it all! It would be too sad to have to give up the silver metal clay habit altogether! Looks like we’ll be playing with bronze and copper more in the next little while! But what can you do, eh? Not much, I know! Have fun at your course!

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    • Barb Fernald

      I loved letting go of those old metal clay pieces that didn’t quite work out. I hope you get a nice big credit at Rio. (That’s how I finally bought a programmable kiln a few years ago.)
      You’re right. It would be too sad to give up working with silver metal clay altogether. I love what you and Angie have been doing with bronze and copper clay. Time to get me some more of that!

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  7. I am daily horrified at the price of PMC. I have worked in copper and bronze clay, but I just prefer the silver. I guess I’m going to have to break out the other though.

    I will get a chance to meet you at Fred’s as I am also taking that workshop. Looking forward to it.

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    • Barb Fernald

      Lisa, that’s great! I’m looking forward to finally meeting you too. I’m sure we’ll have some good discussions about the price of this stuff. I too prefer silver to copper and bronze, but…
      I heard from Fred that Vicky (my sister-in-law) is also taking the class. She is away in N.Y. this week so I haven’t talked with her about it yet. See you Saturday!

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  8. Pingback: Opportunity | Barbara S Fernald Jewelry

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