Peeling Away the Layers – Another Jewelry Pare-Down

Last week, I shared some of the advice Bridgette Raes gave me in regards to my jewelry collection.   In response to that post, I received lots of comments from readers on the level of duplication among my jewelry pieces, as well as some suggestions for paring things down.    This feedback, coupled with my own feelings of overwhelm with my jewelry, led me to peel back another layer and let some more things go.

Jewelry Pare-Down Process

Is your jewelry collection a manageable size?

In today’s post, I share how I managed to release more jewelry pieces this week and my plans for continuing to cull my collection moving forward.   There will be lots of photos below, but you may also wish to refer back to the full set of photos from last week.   Those images, which I took to send to Bridgette, were what made me realize it’s time to let more pieces go.   Sometimes the old saying that a picture speaks a thousand words is really true!

The “Hanger Trick” for Jewelry

Some of the best advice I received last week was from reader Kathy, who wrote this:

Perhaps you could use a second box to put the pieces you naturally gravitate to over a given time, not forcing yourself to wear pieces. Then after a season, assess what you love and consign anything that seems to be a duplicate. If you think a piece is a different season’s wear, then hold it for a second round.   This sort of the “turn the hanger around” closet awareness helps me.”

I decided to do what Kathy suggested.  Since my jewelry armoire is so large (pictured here – someone else suggested that I downsize to a smaller storage option, and I may end up doing just that), I cleared out two drawers in which to store my worn pieces, one for earrings and one for bracelets.  The necklaces that I’ve worn will be hung inside the left swing-out door of the armoire, while the unworn necklaces will be stored in the door on the right.

My Favorites Thus Far

As I’ve been recording both the clothing and jewelry I wear each day in my outfit journal, I was able to easily see what has and hasn’t been worn.  I opted to go back to the beginning of September and set aside all of the jewelry pieces that I’ve donned over the past two months.  I placed these items into the newly cleaned out drawers as shown below.

Earrings Worn - September and October

These are the earrings I’ve worn since September 1st.

Bracelets Worn - September and October

I’ve worn these 13 bracelets over the past two months. 

As for the necklaces, I’ve only worn three since September began, which was a bit surprising to me.   The excessive heat we’ve experienced in Southern California may have something to do with that, as I’m less likely to want to wear necklaces and scarves in very warm weather.   However, it may also be that I am not as into wearing necklaces as I thought.  Time will tell and I may end up paring my necklace collection down quite a bit more by the end of the year.

Necklaces Worn - September and October

These are the only 3 necklaces I’ve worn over the past two months. 

I’m going to continue this “hanger trick for jewelry” process at least through the end of 2014.   As the year draws to a close, I will revisit my jewelry collection, determine my favorites, and cull more pieces.   I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing something like this sooner.  I can already tell that it’s going to be very eye-opening and effective.

Peeling Another Layer – A Mini Pare-Down Session

Now I could have just stopped at implementing Kathy’s suggestion, but I decided to take things a step further.   I wanted to peel another layer away and let go of more of my bloated jewelry collection.  To accomplish this, I did a few things.  First, I reviewed all of my pieces and tuned in to my gut instinct.  I asked myself if I really loved particular items or if I was just holding on to them out of habit or guilt.   This helped me to let go of a few gift pieces that I never liked all that much, as well as some old items I’ve kept because they used to be favorites way back when.

The next step in my purge process was to try things on and use the “first impression test” that I implemented with my garments last month.   This helped me make some quick decisions about what should stay and what should go.   A number of pieces were still “perfectly good” but didn’t resonate with my current style preferences or look good against my skin tone.   Others were just too “fussy” and not comfortable to wear.

Finally, I worked to let go of some of the duplication.   With earrings, I found the best way to proceed was to put two different earrings in my ears and look at myself in the mirror.   This process allowed me to easily determine which pair of earrings I preferred when faced with two pairs that were very similar.   I did a similar thing with bracelets, although I didn’t end up purging all that many items in that category.

A Word about Timing and Jewelry “Set Points”

I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on this most recent jewelry pare-down.  In fact, I did it on a spur of the moment two nights ago at a time when I should have been going to bed.   I often feel a sense of inspiration on a whim and find it’s useful to “just go with it” in such situations.

I’m sure that if I spent more time, I could have pared down more, but I’m not really in a hurry to get down to a certain number at this point.   I think that many of us have jewelry box “set points” just like we have closet set points.   If we pare down too quickly, we may end up feeling compelled to shop and fill in the gaps.   I’m more than happy to go through both my jewelry collection and my closet every few months to peel another layer away.  If we do this often, it’s not as time-consuming and difficult and we can gradually get to where we want to be.

In the end, I was able to let go of 26 jewelry pieces, as shown below.   I feel at peace with passing all of these items on, even though I’m not likely to recoup much of my investment through consignment.   I’m pleased to be unburdening myself of excess stuff and I hope that other people will be able to love and wear my cast-off items.

Purged Jewelry Pieces - October 2014

I decided to pass these 26 jewelry pieces on this month. 

Two Easy Re-Styling Projects

I did get opt to get creative and re-make two necklaces instead of passing them on.   Both of the necklaces below were a bit too “much” for me in their original styling.   The necklace on the bottom had too many tiers and I wasn’t fond of the fringe on the one on the top.   Since I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is very handy, I asked him to remove the top tier of the bright silver necklace and all of the pieces of fringe on the pewter one.   Before and after images are included below.

Necklaces Before Re-Styling

Two rarely worn necklaces before re-styling – too “much” for my minimalist style.

Necklaces After Re-Styling

The easily re-styled necklaces are a better fit for my style preferences. 

The changes took just a few minutes to do and may help me get some good wear out of necklaces that were previously gathering dust in my jewelry box.   These necklaces are kind of similar, so it’s possible that I may end up keeping only one.   I held on to both for now, as I’m not sure which one, if either, I would prefer to wear.   I’d like to give myself the option to wear either or both in the coming months. If for some reason I don’t end up wearing the necklaces, I can still consign or donate them. I’m sure someone will be happy to wear them in their new states (as would have also been true for their original forms).

I never used to consider re-styling any of the items I owned.   If I didn’t like something, I just bought something else, plain and simple.  In fact, I usually didn’t give it a second thought.  Since I’m making more of an effort to “shop my closet” these days, I’m trying to get more creative and make easy and inexpensive changes to my accessories and clothes when it makes sense to do so.   It doesn’t always work out the way I’d hoped, but it’s often well worth a try.

Recovery Tips

Although I tried to pepper advice throughout this post, I want to make sure to leave you with a few clear takeaways.

  1. If you have an overly large jewelry collection and would like to pare down, try the jewelry equivalent of the “hanger trick.” As you wear your jewelry pieces, store them in an alternate location, perhaps in a separate case or another drawer of your jewelry box.  This will help you to see what you are and aren’t wearing over time.  After a few months or even a year, it will be easier for you to identify and pass along those items that aren’t getting any love.
  2. Use the “first impression test” with your jewelry as well as your clothes. Try on your jewelry pieces and look at yourself in the mirror.   Make an internal note of your first impression.  Do you like the way you look in a given piece or does it feel like it’s just not “you”?   Don’t over-analyze your thoughts and feelings.   Allow your first impression to inform your decision-making process.  If you don’t absolutely love something, let it go and pass it on so someone else can enjoy it.
  3. If you have very similar pieces and find you’re “splitting your wears,” set them out next to each other and decide which one or ones you like best. If you have two like pairs of earrings, it can be helpful to put on one earring from each pair and look in the mirror.   This will help you to see which pair you like best.  You can also compare like bracelets by putting one on each wrist. If you have similar necklaces of different lengths, you can try on two or three at the same time to determine which one is your favorite.  For necklaces that are the same length, taking “selfies” on your phone or tablet and comparing them side by side can help you decide which one should make the cut.

Your Questions and Feedback

I hope you found this post interesting and helpful.   If you’ve managed to pare down a large jewelry collection of your own, I’d love to learn what worked for you.   Please feel free to share your tips and suggestions with me and your fellow readers.  Likewise, if you’re still struggling and have questions that I and others can help address, I invite you to ask them.   Perhaps you’ll receive some advice that can help you get to the next level just like Kathy’s words of wisdom did for me!


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