Earlier this year I received an interesting email question. I thought it would be informative for you to read my response to this question. Pricing can be an uncomfortable topic but it doesn't have to be if you can clearly explain why you charge what you do.
What is different in your products than those on the market I'm curious as I am looking possibly purchase another one?
Hello ******, thanks for asking. Today there is a large spectrum of makers offering rings. When I started back in 2003-04 there were none. It's very difficult to compare our jewelry without knowing what I'm comparing our jewelry to specifically. As I'm sure you are aware there is a lot that goes into pricing a product. Here are some variables that I would use to compare carbon fiber ring brands.
Ring Quality: Not all brands are created equal in this respect. Just browsing Etsy, ebay, amazon, Instagram, facebook I see little defects or quality control issues quite often in ring images. Some products have small voids, over sanded weave, some obviously have very little contouring of the edges (to speed up production I assume). Some rings have weak coatings to make them glossy. In contrast if we see a defect we toss the ring. Keeping quality high adds to the cost. We take our time to make sure all edges are well rounded and even. If a ring gets over sanded it gets tossed, not re-worked. In general we do not coat our rings so nothing can chip off. We polish the fiber/resin matrix itself because it's more durable. We learned that lesson years ago but I still see coated rings. A coated ring will have a hard time holding up like fiber reinforced epoxy. It may not matter to everyone but our material is made in the USA. I know some companies import from overseas which cuts cost and many times quality suffers. Some may not even be 100% carbon. I've had some overseas companies send me product to look at.
Engineered product: Some companies cut a section of carbon tube, sand it a little and ship. This allows them to ship at a relatively low price. Our rings are engineered to be durable. We've been doing this longer than anyone else I am aware of. In the 13 years we've been making carbon rings we've learned a few lessons. This experience came at a cost. Our rings are made from a dozen layers of carbon fiber. The fiber direction of each layer dictates how strong/durable the ring will be and in what direction. We tailor the layer stack to make the ring good at resisting crushing loads. Years ago we had a customer drop a 200 lb. metal plate on his hand. It barely cracked the ring but saved his finger. Since then we tried and tested many layup orientations and we've broken a lot of rings on purpose in testing. You can still break one of our rings obviously but we've improved as time went on. We are the only company Im aware of that has a safety veil on the inside of our rings. This is designed to minimize the damage to your finger in the case of an impact. The very thin layer of fiberglass will contain the carbon splinters to an extent in the event of a traumatic event. We use T700 carbon prepreg for the rest of the ring. Same stuff as an F1 car and this adds to the cost versus other fabrication techniques. Some makers use fabric and wet resin which means more voids.
Selection: There are a lot of makers out there these days. We stock 19 sizes from 4.5-13.5 which means we had to grind steel tooling for each size since our rings are molded to size and not cut out of carbon plate with a diamond hole saw. Each tool is about $250. We invested in the tooling to be able to offer faster shipping in many cases. Stocking inventory costs money. We don’t stock all of our rings but we do stock all of the standard styles. Our base ring is $120 but we also offer rings nobody else does. This takes time to develop and time is money. Some rings require special equipment such as a lathe. Having more selection is going to cost money. Many of the cheaper companies might just offer a couple of ring styles. This allows them to sell cheaper.
Profit: Not all companies make enough profit margin to stay in business. Gross sales won't keep them in business although it looks good on a report. We have to make a profit. If something goes wrong with your ring 5 years from now will they be there to do anything about it? We're not selling widgets, we're selling quality, hand crafted rings. I've hired several people over the years and not everyone can be plugged in and start making rings with us. It's not rocket science but it requires a level of care and quality that means we pay a little more for wages. Getting back to the longevity issue. We want to be here to serve our customers for years to come. There is a trade off for customers here. I need to spend money on marketing our product to keep sales growing. This cost gets passed on to the customer but they in turn get a reliable company and a great product. Standing behind our product is not always cheap. A while back a customer in the UK emailed me saying his ring broke. He had owned the ring for nearly 7 years but had an older layup design which wasn't quite as thick. The ring may have had an internal defect but regardless the ring was broken. I shipped him a new one no questions asked and I covered the shipping. I did this because I care and I take care of customers after the sale. In the over 1,000 rings we've sold I think only a few dozen have come back to a manufacturing defect. Shipping and handling is included in our price as well except for international shipping. We also offer free size exchanges and free ring re-polish for life if it's ever needed. It's not uncommon for us to have sales of $30 off a ring as well. You can see evidence of this on our Instagram. Packaging is another area we've invested in recently. It costs money but it matters.
Personal: This business is deeply important to me. I have a passion for making rings but I won't offer my talents for minimum wage. This is something that isn't always factored in. I may miss out on some sales volume once in a while but I'll never be the cheapest game in town. My time is worth more than some. In return I pour my heart and soul into this business and products and I try to take care of my customers the way they take care of me. Is our product worth 3 times my lowest priced competitor. I say yes but this is going to be a bit subjective for customers to decide. What I've learned is you'll never get the best product and service for 2-3 times less. There are makers selling carbon rings for $400 and there are makers selling for $49. Typically the market will decide who sticks around and the high end makes won't ever have the volume of the amazon rings.
My perspective is biased but I hope I've outlined part of the objective reasons why we sell rings for the price we do. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you may have.
Adam Weeks – Founder
Ultra Carbon Fiber