Program Speaker: Will Motes
How to Sell Your Jewelry on Ebay

by Nancy L. Attaway

Professional geologist and facetor, Will Moats spoke to the Guild on “How to Sell Your Jewelry on Ebay”. Will holds a masters in geology. He has worked on the Cochise Project for Phelps Dodge, was associated with copper projects in Bisbee, and worked for Pegasus on several gold operations. Will is currently a program manager for the New Mexico Environmental Department. Will is also a very accomplished facetor and is partial to tourmaline.

Will began by saying that he operates a small family business that specializes in low-end jewelry. He also sells antique postcards of Yellowstone, one of his favorite geologic areas, and some antique mining postcards. He is usually able to purchase these postcards at a low price from various antique stores and marks them up to sell on ebay.

Will defined ebay as an internet auction site. Sellers pay fees to ebay to sell their goods, which ends up as a certain percentage of the sale. Buyers pay no fees for shopping on the site. Will explained that ebay hosts the auctions, but they are not involved with the transactions. Will said that ebay runs auctions twenty-four hours every day all year, and that millions of customers world-wide shop for goods on the site. He said that you may limit your customers to just ones in the United States, or you may include the ones outside the country. The ebay website is:

Will mentioned several selling tips that he has found to work well for him. He recommended showing quality pictures of your goods for sale and how to best describe those items. He discussed the category options, the timing of the auctions, how pricing works, credit cards and checks, state taxes, how he ships, and record keeping. Will has used e-bay for several years and has had success selling on it.

When taking pictures of your items for sale, Will recommended the use of a digital camera. The color reproduction from digital cameras is quite good. He recommended also scanning the items as a direct input to your computer. He said that scanning images at 100 DPI was acceptable. He said to use a j-peg format as a host on your ISP site. If your photos need correction for color or enhancement, Will recommended using a photo editor, such as Adobe Photoshop, to improve both the color and quality of your photos. Will also mentioned the importance of a good light source and recommended taking pictures of your items outside.
Will said that there are many categories to choose from regarding jewelry sites. He posts to the fine jewelry site, regardless of the price of the item listed for sale. The category of fine jewelry has recently been subdivided to expand the customer base. Will said to remember that we will be selling to educated customers and to shoppers who are not very well informed. He has found that the majority of the sales occur on the last hour of the last day of the auction.

Will stated that the description of your item is very important. He mentioned including such details as millimeter dimensions, carat weight, quality grade of the stones, and the type and grade of metals used. He said that it was a good idea to avoid using any fancy HTML programming language in your description, as it will be too distracting to the customers. Although there are some unscrupulous dealers selling on ebay who are not all that honest, Will still recommended disclosing any known treatments to the gems. He remarked that he occasionally loses sales to these dealers with questionable reputations, as the competition to sell goods on ebay is absolutely enormous.

As Will mentioned, the timing of the auctions usually have a common factor in that most of the sales occur during the last hour of the last day. He said that three to five days is an adequate duration for an auction to sell inexpensive items, and that an auction of ten days (the maximum duration for an auction) would be better for expensive items. He recommended ending an auction late on a Sunday evening to allow the shoppers on the west coast more time to bid. Will remarked that ebay auctions are slow during the summer, as most people are out doing other things besides accessing their computers. He has noticed a lag in his sales during the summer months.

Will advised us to use a low minimum bid to encourage bidding and to avoid reserves, defined as the price below which the seller will not sell. Although it was common to receive only one bid on an item, Will said that it was still cheaper to sell on ebay than at a gem and jewelry show.

Will stated that having credit card usage was a likely advantage for customers purchasing expensive items. Accepting major credit cards increases buyer trust. Other purchasing options include personal checks and PayPal. PayPal involves transactions from your checking account.

Will explained his terms of business, and he said to be specific about them to avoid any confusion. He sets a payment due date and only accepts US currency. The types of acceptable payment methods that Will recognizes are cash, personal check, and credit cards. He holds personal checks for a certain amount of time to allow the check to clear.
Will tries to keep his shipping costs and ships as fast as possible. He said that it was important to clarify who pays the shipping and how much it will cost. He usually uses first class US mail, and he insures packages valued over $20. Gross receipts applies to New Mexico customers, and you need to report those sales. He said that he pays sales tax on goods sold to New Mexico residents, but that the vast majority of his sales are to out-of-state customers.Will could not stress enough the importance of good record keeping. He keeps detailed records of all transactions, as to who paid for what item, how much was paid for the item, when and how it was paid for, and when it was shipped.

Will stressed the importance of receiving good customer feedback. He said that you always want positive comments from your customers, and that you should post positive feedback first on your good customers. Will posts nothing about the few bad customers out there, as he tries to avoid posting negative comments that could come back to haunt him. He never wants to be involved in a situation that could damage his reputation. Will did say that he will report any bad, problematic customers directly to ebay.

Will told us that ebay fees involve taking a percentage of the selling price of an item when it sells. You still pay a listing fee even if the item does not sell. Will said that the fees for selling on ebay are low, and he said to check the ebay website for the current list of fees charged.

Will said that there were advantages and disadvantages of selling your goods on ebay auctions. By selling on ebay, he has greatly expanded his customer base. However, he has increased his computer workload and record keeping. He can sell his bulk-produced items easier and cheaper on ebay, compared to the fuss and expense involved in selling your items at a gem and jewelry show. He said that anyone can give it a try and list items for sale on ebay, providing first that you have a computer. Will closed by saying that virtually anything can be offered for sale on ebay.