Making & Selling Cabachon Jewelry

using OEM Laser Transfers

Written by:  Ernie Ziegler - January 2008

Are you looking for:

A niche market with an automatic influx of new customers every year.

A substrate that doesn’t require a special coating to accept an image.

Image designs that allow you to prepress large quantities of product without worry of them remaining unsold.

A product that sells itself, generates repeat sales, and turns each customer into an enthusiastic unpaid salesperson.

Do any of the foregoing statements interest you? Do they sound to good to be true?

Well I have a product that I have been marketing for almost three years that does all of the above and is quite profitable. This product came into existence as the result of a non-profit (VBK) groups repeated requests to make "something special" just for us. The VBK group is best known as Vicky (8), Brandie (10) and Kimmie (12) my granddaughters.

The "something special" is a circular imaged porcelain cabochon that can be worn as a brooch or a pendant on a necklace (requires special bar pin be attached to back). The initial image designs were the girls Astrological symbols. The designs have grown to include Kittens, Butterflies an Orca (a whale that lives in Puget Sound where we reside) and a Rose.

click above to see larger images


Once the girls started to wear/display and tout their "jewelry" to their schoolmates I began to receive requests to "make one for my friend Grandpa". It was at that time I started to recognize I just might have a popular saleable product idea. To further explore this possibility I purchased table space at a crafts fair being held at the school one of the girls attended.

I was amazed when I sold out of product on the first day of a two day fair. To be sure it wasn’t a fluke I stayed up late that night pressing more product. The second day sales also depleted my stock.

A few weeks after the fair I began receiving calls from more girls wanting their Astro jewelry, as well as calls from those that already had their Astro wanting to know if I had any other designs. I was sure I had a winner.

Since that initial fair I have done fairs at several other schools (the fairs held near Christmas seem to be the most profitable) with great success. I have also learned that placing ads in the school newspaper (all year long) not only helps sales but helps ensure that you will get table space at the fair.

As time went on the product seemed to take on a life of its own. I started to receive requests for variations of the product.

From older siblings of my customers, who were in college and wanted the Greek letters of their sorority/fraternity imaged on a cabochon. For this application I use an oval porcelain substrate (more space for the letters) and adapt the product to fit onto a bolo tie for the males. Also for this application I image the letters in black and do the background in the appropriate sorority/fraternity color(s).

From doting grandmothers who wanted pictures of the little darlings as the image. I do this only after pointing out that because these are highly personal images requiring specialized computer knowledge to produce they naturally command a higher price.

I also now have designs for special occasions (Christmas, St Patrick’s Day etc.) that are fitted with a plain pin bar.

I so liked the way the colors popped on the porcelain cabochons that I invested some time into trying other pieces of porcelain. As a result I have added three products to my porcelain family. They are a simple 3.5” x 5.5” cross, a 3.5” circular ornament and a keychain. I find that all three of these items are good sellers and fit in nicely at the school crafts fairs.

 The cross has a universal appeal across most all religions. The ornaments started as an Xmas offering but have since (with appropriate designs) shown signs of fitting in well with a variety of ethnic groups. While the keychain seems to be more of a spur of the moment sale when a design grabs a customers eye.


     click above to see larger images

Marketing Notes

In keeping with the aura of uniqueness of the product, each cabochon is packaged in a drawstring velour pouch. Each customer is also provided with my business card (which features a picture of one of the pieces) and a brochure showing all the designs available as well as a listing of other products available.

Because I receive requests for product all year long I do allow (with prior arrangement and if accompanied by a parent) visits to my home studio. Being sure that the studio is neat and that my other products are displayed.

For the fairs I use a magnetic dry erase board to display one of each design available and to write prices or other information on.

I am presently working out the details for a program of presenting the product at birthday parties. My thinking is that the Host will pay me a fixed price and then each of the attendees will get to pick out a cabochon of their choice with the birthday girl getting a cabochon of each design.

Process Data

Transfer Paper: JBL HG for OEM laser toner
Printer: Samsung CLP 510 with OEM toner
Felt pad on lower press platen.
Plain paper cover sheet
Transfer face up with porcelain taped in place
Parchment paper cover sheet
Plain paper cover sheet
1/16" rubber pad

I press a page of pieces at a time at 380 degrees for 4 minutes
Peel transfer when piece is cool
Post cure in convection oven at 380 degrees for 10 minutes
When piece is cold hot glue finding to back

I image both sides of the ornament at the same time. Though it does require that the transfer be closely trimmed and the heat tape holding the transfer must be judiciously located.

Because the keychain has a concave/convex shape I find that it requires a “nesting” of sorts to keep it aligned in a horizontal plain to the press platens; and also requires the addition of a “filler” into the concave surface to aid heat transmission.

For the “nesting” I place two rows of a double thickness of mouse pad material (one piece on top of the other >> pieces are about 3” wide by 8” long) on the lower press platen >> with the rows opposing one another. The spacing between the rows is the width of the keychain. The substrate with the transfer taped on is “nested” in the space (transfer is on the underside of the substrate).

The filler consists of two small pieces (about ¾” square) of mouse pad material placed into the concave portion of the keychain (one on top of the other).

I find that these “filler” pieces tend to weld themselves together after repeated uses and need to be replaced after approximately 10 pressings. The nesting pieces do not weld together, however, the top piece does compress and after 10 pressings so I throw it away add a new piece for the bottom layer and rotate the older piece to the top layer.

Circular designs are ganged 20 per 8.5" x 11" sheet
Oval designs are ganged 16 per 8.5" x 11" sheet
Cross design is ganged 6 per sheet
Ornament is ganged 4 per sheet
Keychain designs a ganged 42 per sheet

Approximate Retail Pricing

Circular Cabochon (Stock Design) $ 5.00
Circular Cabochon (Photo Image) $10.00
Oval Cabochon (Greek Letters) $ 7.50
Necklace $ 5.00
Bolo Tie $ 7.50
Keychain  $3.50
Cross  $4.50
Ornament  $4.50


Where to Purchase:


Rynne China
222 West Eight Mile Road
Hazel Park, MI 48030

Circular Cabochon #17 Round 1-5/8" $ .60/ea.
Oval Cabochon #16 Oval 1-5/8" x 2-1/8" $1.00/ea.
Keychain  #C-811 $0.89  (comes with gold color split ring)
Cross #RC-3610  $1.19  (pierced for hanging)
Ornament  #C-3717-14  $0.99  (pierced for hanging)

Findings & Necklace

Rings & Things
P.O. Box 450
Spokane, WA 99210-9450

Bar Pin #38-963-1 $.90/ea.
Necklace #61-043-16 (Available in 16 colors) $1.50/ea.
Bolo Back #36-836 $.90/ea.
Bolo Tips #36-211 $.40/pair
Bolo Cord #36-160 36" (Available in 8 colors) $.53/ea.

Velour Pouch

Fetpak Inc.
70 Austin Blvd
Commack, NY 11725-5702

Pouch #SPE225 Black 2" x 2.5" $.27/ea.

Transfer Paper

JBL Graphics
1037 Eunice Drive
Hurst, TX 76053

HG Paper $.69/page

Pin Bar

Johnson Plastics
9240 Grand Ave So.
Minneapolis, MN 55420

Pinback #J21 nickel Plated 1.5" with Adhesive back $.20/ea.

Magnetic Dry Erase Board

Office Depot
Office Max

If you have any questions about the information provided in the article above, click here to e-mail Ernie Ziegler directly.

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