How to Pare Down a Large Jewelry Collection

As you may recall, one of my goals for 2014 is to reduce the number of jewelry pieces I own by at least a third.  Earlier this year, I shared the results of my first jewelry inventory, during which I let go of 23% of the items in my storage armoire.  Since that time, I have added some new pieces, and I’ve recently started feeling overwhelmed by the size of my collection. So this past weekend, I took a few hours to review and pare down my assortment of jewelry.

Jewelry Armoire

This is where I keep my large jewelry collection.

In today’s post, I share the simple process I used to help me further reduce the number of jewelry pieces I own.  At the end of the post, I present the results of my latest jewelry inventory.  I believe my method may be useful to readers who possess large jewelry collections like mine, and it can also be used to pare down an over-abundance of clothing and shoes.  If you decide to try my process, please let me know how it works out for you!

Before You Start

Before I outline the easy but powerful method I used to pare down my jewelry, I’d like to make a suggestion.  If you’re going to use my process, don’t think ahead to what you’re going to do with the jewelry pieces that don’t make the cut.  The goal of my method is to separate the pieces you truly love and will wear from the items that are merely occupying space in your closet, drawers, or other storage medium.

If you think too deeply about how much you paid for particular items, how long you’ve had them, or who gave them to you, it will “muddy the waters” and cause you to second-guess your decisions. I plan to do a follow-up post about the various things you can do with your jewelry cast-offs, so there will be viable options for you to pursue.  But for now, just take the items that no longer add value to your life and set them aside somewhere.  Get them out of your main jewelry area.

While we’re on the topic of jewelry storage, you may want to consider upgrading the manner in which you store your jewelry.  As with clothing, you won’t wear what you can’t see.  Case in point, my mother used to store all of her jewelry in small individual boxes that weren’t labeled in any way.  She rarely wore most of the pieces, as it was just too difficult for her to find anything!  She now has all of her jewelry items centrally located in a decent-sized jewelry box and she’s wearing far more of what she owns.

About Sentimental Pieces

Some of you may be wondering what to do about sentimental jewelry pieces.  If something truly holds deep emotional value for you, I’m not going to suggest that you part with it.  However, if the pieces in question are cherished but never worn, I recommend that you store them in an alternate location away from the rest of your jewelry.  Perhaps designate a special box or small display cabinet for these treasured items.  That way, you can admire them whenever you desire and conjure up your deeply held memories without their taking up space in your jewelry box.

A small word of caution before we move on…  Some people have a tendency to categorize virtually everything as special and sentimental. For example, I once met a woman who saved every single item that had been given to her by her deceased parents.  This led to a lot of clutter in her home!   It’s highly unlikely that all of those items held deep meaning for her.  I suggested that she select the very best pieces, store them in a sort of “hope chest” at the foot of her bed, and release the rest.  I make that same suggestion to you today.

My Simple Pare-Down Method

Prior to diving in to my jewelry collection last weekend, I was struck by a bright idea spurred on by a reader’s comment to my last accountability post.  I realized that like many other people, I have a tendency to purchase similar pieces of jewelry.  My thought was that instead of going through my jewelry piece by piece to decide each one’s fate, I would separate my pieces into groups of like items.

I started with my necklaces and progressed on through bracelets, earrings, and other pieces.  My separation process was not an exact science by any means.  I just examined the items within each category and laid out similar jewelry articles next to each other.  I then looked at each grouping and challenged myself to select my favorites.  I didn’t set any hard and fast rules for the process, just the goal of paring things down to only the jewelry pieces I really liked and believed I’d enjoy wearing moving forward.

Some Help from Bridgette Raes

To assist me in making my final selections, I used one of Bridgette Raes’ powerful questions (watch this video for more details).  Bridgette posits that when faced with a selection of like pieces, we often end up “splitting our wears” and thus don’t use any of the items to their full potential. In order to avoid this troubling phenomenon, Bridgette suggests that we ask ourselves the following question in reference to our rarely worn items:

Under what circumstance am I going to choose this piece over something else that I always go to or always prefer?”

It can be useful to hold the questionable item next to one you love to help facilitate your answer, which is why I suggested separating your jewelry pieces into like groupings. Bridgette’s question can help us narrow things down to only those items that we truly love and wear.  In truth, most of us would rather re-wear our loved pieces over and over again than wear our second-string items.  This is why we don’t need as much as we think we do in our closets – or jewelry boxes.

A Few Examples

Although I tried my best to explain my method – and Bridgette’s question – simply but clearly, I know it may still seem a bit confusing to some of you.  So I’ll present a few visual examples to help demonstrate how it works.   My image quality is not the best (it’s hard to take photos of shiny objects), but the main point is to illustrate how my process works, not to showcase my personal jewelry pieces.  I think you’ll be able to see the images well enough to follow along with the points I make and apply them to your own jewelry collections.

Example One – Statement Necklaces

The first example below showcases three statement necklaces that are similar in color and style.  They are all a gunmetal color and of comparable thickness and length.

Statement necklaces

This decision process was easy for me, as I have only worn one of the three necklaces despite having owned the other two for quite some time.  I could think of no instance in which I would wear the two unworn necklaces over the one I like and wear.  I opted to keep the necklace on the right and discard the other two.  I’ve worn the third necklace several times and like the way it looks on me and with my outfits.  It’s not too large, but is a good size for my stature and falls at a nice spot on my chest. I’m totally fine with letting both the first and second necklaces go and had little difficulty in making that decision.

Example Two – Black Bracelets

Black and silver bracelets

My second example includes five black bracelets, most of which also include some type of silver detailing. Three of these bracelets have been worn multiple times, while the other two have never been worn.  I wanted to love the unworn bracelets (the first and second ones in the top row), but there was something “off” about both of them.  The one at the top left is just too stiff and the one next to it looks a bit flimsy and cheap (which it kind of was…).

When I asked myself Bridgette Raes’ question, I realized that I would never wear the first and second bracelets over the other three, so I added them to the rejects pile. I feel confident that I won’t ever miss them and will continue to enjoy wearing the other three (especially the third one, which is a definite favorite).

Example Three – Silver Earrings

Silver lattice-style earrings

My third and final example involves three pairs of lattice-style silver earrings.  The ones on the left were a recent acquisition and the middle pair was purchased about two years ago.  The pair on the right was given to me by a family member last summer after I had admired them on her.  Unfortunately, I never thought they looked right on me, as they seemed just too large and wide.  I wore the middle pair a handful of times, but had similar reservations about them.

I realize that I will always choose the earrings on the left over the other two pairs.  I love those earrings and feel good wearing them.   In fact, I’ve already worn them several times in the two weeks I’ve had them, which is an excellent track record for someone with a large jewelry collection.  I opted to keep the first pair and pass the other two pairs on.

The Aftermath

When all was said and done, I identified 50 pieces of jewelry to purge from my collection.  While I’m not exactly sure where all of these items will go (I took my own advice to put such considerations aside for the time being), I’m happy they will no longer be occupying space in my jewelry armoire.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of my discarded items:

Purged jewelry pieces

After my purging session was finished, I placed all of my jewelry pieces back in the armoire and took some time to organize them in a more intuitive fashion.  I placed items with similar attributes next to each other to help streamline my decision process for which pieces to wear each day.

All of my earrings now fit into the top two drawers of the armoire.  The first drawer holds all of my silver pieces (I wear a lot of silver) and the second drawer houses the non-silver earrings and earrings with various colored stones.  I also have two drawers full of bracelets, which are organized by color and style.  Since I now have fewer necklaces, the side doors of the armoire are no longer over-crowded.  I’ve separated the necklaces out by shorter and longer lengths and by style.  The extra pendants that are not currently on chains are all co-located inside one of the lower drawers.

The New Inventory

By many people’s standards, I still have a lot of jewelry and will likely pare things down further, but for now let’s take a look at the numbers.  At the beginning of 2014, I had 282 items in my jewelry collection.  Following my initial purge in February (you can check it out here if you’re interested), my total number of pieces was 217, a reduction of 23%.

Included below are my new jewelry numbers, followed by the net change since my initial inventory in parentheses.  Please note that I have purchased some new pieces since my February inventory, so the numbers don’t line up precisely in all categories.

  • Watches:  5 (same)
  • Rings:  17 (same, will tackle these soon)
  • Brooches:  6  (-3)
  • Pendants:  8  (same – I discovered a few additional pieces since last time)
  • Necklaces:  33  (-17)
  • Bracelets:   28  (-12)
  • Single Stud Earrings (for second piercing):   6  (-5)
  • Fancy Stud Earrings:   6  (same)
  • Standard Earrings:   63  (-10)
  • Purse Hooks:  1  (same)
  • Key Chains:  1  (same)
  • GRAND TOTAL:    174

Did I Meet My Goal?

I released an additional 15% of my jewelry items last weekend, so my total decrease since the beginning of the year is 38%.  That means I have already met my jewelry goal for 2014 (to reduce the size of my collection by at least a third), and the year isn’t even half over!   One wardrobe and shopping goal down, nine to go

Of course, I will continue to be mindful of the jewelry pieces I am wearing regularly, as well as the ones that are collecting dust in the armoire. I’m sure I will let go of more items before the year is finished and will do another inventory later in the year.  I also plan to hold off on buying anything new unless I absolutely love it and don’t already own something similar.  Now that my pieces are organized by type and style, it will be much easier for me to discern the overrepresented areas in my collection, as well as any areas of lack which might exist.

What’s Next?

I hope you found this post helpful, especially if you have a large jewelry inventory you’d like to pare down to a more manageable size.  As I mentioned previously, I plan to do a follow-up post on what to do with your purged jewelry pieces.  I am already aware of several viable options and plan to investigate other alternatives as well, including ways of recouping at least a portion of one’s investment on expensive items.  If you have any suggestions for me and other readers who want to pass on unloved jewelry pieces, please share them in the comments section.


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Comments

  1. Fiona McMurdo says:

    A really helpful post. Thanks 🙂

  2. You and I must be on the same wave length because I just cleaned out my jewelry drawer. I plan to let my nieces choose from my great discards!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Congrats on cleaning out your jewelry drawer, Mary! How wonderful that you care able to pass your discards on to your nieces. Often the best option is to give one’s cast-offs to family and friends. That’s usually what I try first and then move on to other (and less preferable) alternatives.

  3. I had never counted my jewelry before. A few months ago I went through and passed along quite a few unworn pieces to friends. My numbers are 31 necklaces, 2 rings(wedding), 15 bracelets, and 40 pairs of earrings. 88 total. I also have 10 or so items in the bottom drawer of my jewelry box that I never wear, but were gifts or my grandmother’s. It is nicer when there isn’t so much to sift through.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Great job on paring things down, Tonya! Your numbers seem very manageable. You’re right that it’s so much easier when there isn’t as much to sift through. I probably still have too much, but I’d rather pare down gradually just like I’m doing with my wardrobe. As time goes on, I’ll see what I reach for and what I don’t. If I find I’m splitting my wears too much, more items will head out the door!

  4. Debbie, congratulations on your progress! I love how you compared similar items rather than just evaluating them individually. Bridgette’s concept of splitting your wears (which I first heard of through you) has been enormously helpful for me in paring down my wardrobe.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad the splitting the wears concept has been helpful for you, Kayla. It’s helped me a lot, but I didn’t think to apply it to jewelry until the other day. Once I did, it was much easier to get rid of things. Bridgette is brilliant!

  5. Wow! I was surprised by the volume (and similarity) of your accumulation of jewelery. The process you are going through will transform this accumulation into a “collection” of carefully curated aggregation of pieces of jewelery.) I have 30 pieces of jewelry — 10 pairs of earrings, 4 statement necklaces, three strings of pearls (black cultured, long string of “faux” pearls that look “real,” and my mother’s almost-antique string), 1 antique turquoise necklace, 4 bangles, 1 antique scarab bracelet, 5 brooch pins, and two watches (dress and everyday). It seems like a lot to me because I can only (generally) wear one of each item at a time. BUT each item was chosen (except for the inherited antique and near-antique pieces) for its rarity and/or “statement” value. I have no duplicates or similar pieces. Some of my jewelry is about a year old and a few items I’ve worn for 40 years, including a long, hand-made silver open circle necklace suddenly au currant again and looks a lot like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Sterling-Silver-Open-Circle-Necklace/dp/B000X3415O/ref=sr_1_9?s=jewelry&ie=UTF8&qid=1402745166&sr=1-9&keywords=sterling+silver+circle+necklace). I clean out my jewelry annually if not more frequently, and all of it is stored in fabric bags in a small box in my dresser. I try to buy my jewelry from artisan jewelry makers, antique dealers, or resale shops . I have a few inexpensive items (a gunmetal statement necklace, a bangle that coat $1 at a resale shop, and so on) but many of my pieces have greater value — but are not “valuable.”

    It’s funny what we accumulate and why we hang on to stuff. I’m spending next week tackling 3 stored boxes of documents and other stuff. I’ll be doing my own sorting and culling with the goal of getting it all down to ONE box. Then it’s onto my garage….

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m sure you won’t be too surprised to learn that I have a necklace almost identical to the one you posted, Dottie! That one I still love, though, so I’m glad I have it. I’m sure I will pare down further, as I still have too much, but I’m happy about the progress I’ve made thus far in 2014. I have some stored boxes of documents to conquer, too! I’ve pared down well in almost all areas. The clothes, jewelry, and documents are pretty much my “final frontiers.” Good luck with your document cull!

      • I bought my necklace from John Lewis while I was in college last century (circa 1970). It cost a lot (maybe $40 — a lot for a flat-broke college student when the minimum wage was 75 cents/hr) but I was so happy to buy silver jewelry which I had been having a hard time finding. I guess I was about 12 when I decided silver jewelry looked better on me that gold. I have worn this necklace on and off for over 40 years, so it was a good investment. I’m pleased to see similar pieces around actresses necks on TV shows, on models in glossy mags, and around the necks of stylish women everywhere. It’s definitely a classic design that John Lewis pioneered all those years ago. http://www.yelp.com/biz/john-lewis-boston

        • Debbie Roes says:

          It’s great that you’ve gotten so much wear out of that necklace, Dottie! Yours is probably better quality than mine, as mine was purchased about 4 years ago. I decided silver looked better on me at a young age, too, and the bonus was that it was also less expensive. I can imagine keeping my necklace for many years just like you have, provided it holds up, of course! My mom was visiting last year and I let her wear it one day. She loved it and I briefly considered giving it to her. But instead, I found a similar version and bought it for her. Win, win!

  6. Another great post Debbie! Just last week I went through my jewelry armoire and culled quite a few items. Wish I’d counted them. My sister is now loving and wearing them (her words). The next time I do this I will use the compare similar items method. I think it’s brilliant! The funny thing with this post is that in each example somehow I knew intuitively which one you’d keep!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I guess a lot of us are on the same page, Kim. This seems to be the time of year to go through jewelry… Congrats on your pare-down and I’m glad your sister is now enjoying your cast-offs. I wish I had a sister to give things to (well, I do have a half-sister, but she’s MUCH younger than me and we aren’t close). I will pass a few things on to my mom, I think, but I’m not sure what I’ll do with the rest. I will reveal that in my follow-up post. Interesting that you knew what I’d keep. I guess you’re getting to know me pretty well at this point! Maybe I’m finally developing a more cohesive style.

      • You might see if Dress of Success or similar organization that helps women get back on their feet and get jobs via “business” attire might be interested in accessories. I’ve given gently worn suits, blouses, shoes, and a brief/computer case to my local DFS organization.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Good idea, Dottie. Most of my accessories are not really business-worthy, but I’m sure that many others have jewelry cast-offs that would work out well for Dress for Success. I will add that suggestion to my follow-up post!

  7. It’s a great way to pare down. Works equally well with clothes :-). And new acquisitions… And btw, I love the necklace you kept. It’s cool!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Welcome back, Mette! I loved your Malta trip post. I’d love to see more photos of what looks like a beautiful place. I will have to add Malta to my must-visit list, I think. Yes, the method DOES work equally well with clothes and I wish I would have used it last year when I was in a big pare-down mode. I’ll still keep it in mind, though. Thanks re: the necklace. I really like wearing that one!

  8. I feel like this was written for me. I have hundreds of jewelry pieces and hardly wear any of them. Additionally, I’ve decided to “go back” to yellow gold or two tone vs. just silver. I have 3 items currently on ebay for probably 20% of what I paid for them yet no bids so I’m curious how you’ll suggesting parting with those that didn’t make the cut. I like the idea of setting out groups of like items and want to see what’s next!

    • Interesting that you have both yellow gold AND silver. Most people look good only in gold or only in silver. I’m a silver (or platinum or white gold) gal myself and my red-haired sister wears only gold. I LIKE gold but it looks terrible on me. For years (1960s through 1980s) it was a struggle to find interesting silver jewelry but, fortunately designers and jewelry makers are using more and more silver. Perhaps this is because the price of gold is so high? And, finally, designers like Paloma Picasso also showed how exciting silver jewelry can be.

      • Kristen says:

        I just got caught up in buying things to fill unmet needs, and I love jewelry so there it is. I looked for the color of gemstone or design rather than the metal. I now have red hair by choice which definitely brings out the warmth in my skin. I bought clothes to go with my jewelry suites and now have an under the bed box almost full
        At least I’ve recognized the why behind what I did. I hate selling at such a loss of money, but knowing the pieces will be worn is so much better –and freeing for me.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I think a lot of people have both gold and silver jewelry in their collections, but most of us only look good in one or the other like Dottie said. I was shopping with a friend not long ago and lamented the lack of silver jewelry on offer. She tried to push me to buy gold because that’s what’s trendy now. But I look horrible in gold, so I refused. I do have a few two-toned pieces that I like because the silver balances the gold, but I mostly go for silver or gunmetal jewelry.

      I know it can be frustrating to sell things on Ebay, Kristen. I’ve experienced the same problems as you have. I hope to find some good alternatives for selling jewelry. We’ll see what my research yields. I already have some viable ideas, but hope to find more. I hate selling at a loss of money, too, but I usually end up forgetting about the loss before too long. And like you said, it’s freeing to get rid of things we no longer love and wear.

  9. Annette says:

    I have some sentimental jewelery pieces that belonged to my husbands grandmother that I make use of by displaying. A butterfly broach is on a lampshade in our bed room. A beautiful, sparkly pink broach is pinned to a velvet table cloth on our entry table. I really enjoy seeing them in those places rather than wearing them.
    My personal jewelery collection is quite small but the grouping suggestion will come in handy as a guide to my future additions. Thanks for the tip.
    Following your example I did an inventory of my clothing pieces and was surprised at the numbers of similar items. Five pink shells, 5 white sweaters etc. that certainly are splitting wears. It helps to be aware so that I can make a decision to let go of some of the duplicated items.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good idea to display the heirloom jewelry, Annette! There are definitely other ways to enjoy and appreciate old pieces besides wearing them. I’m glad that my tip helped you to let go of some duplicate garments. I wish I would have thought of it last year, as I had a lot more duplicates then! That said, I think I will still try it with some areas of my wardrobe, as I’d love to pare down even further.

  10. What a great job Debbie! Congrads on reaching your goal and I will be looking forward to reading about your further efforts.

    I have a few pieces of jewelry I don’t wear but have to make up my mind. I don’t really have much purging left to do!!! I may not have a real minimal wardrobe or jewelry collection but it’s working for me much better these days! 80 pieces of clothing (from camis to coats) and 92 accessories including shoes, scarves, belts, etc.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You’ve already done very well with purging, Meli. There is no ideal collection size for clothing or jewelry. The important thing is that we’re using and enjoying what we have, which it sounds like you are. You’re young, so hopefully you won’t amass the volume of stuff that I have!

  11. Sew stylish says:

    I have displayed my necklaces on a jewellery tree ; I am much more likely to wear the pieces, now that I can see at a glance which is likely to go with my outfit, it’s so much easier than when they were hidden in drawers. I tend to buy too many blue / green necklaces, so will stop buying these. Similarly, I have put my scarf collection on an inexpensive IKEA holder, and I can see at a glance that the blue section is over-represented. Until these were placed in groups, like you have done with your jewellery, we are not aware of over buying in a certain area of the wardrobe…

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for noticing your areas of duplication, Sew Stylish. I really love blue and green, too. I noticed too of certain colors and patterns of scarves, too. I keep mine folder on a shelf in my closet, but I think I’ll look into the IKEA holder you mentioned. There may be a better way for me to display my scarves.

  12. I really like the idea of evaluating groupings of similar pieces, I’m going to try that with my jewelry collection.

    But I think the even more basic advice to remove everything not currently loved and worn without worrying what to do about the “rejected” items will be even more helpful. Since jewelry items are usually so small it’s easy to keep things around “just in case.” Much easier to store a pile of earrings than a pile of sweaters! But I can see how this just leads to mental clutter/confusion.

    That said, I do have a large collection of vintage costume jewelry from both of my grandmothers. I rarely have occasion to wear these items but it’s meaningful to me to have them and they are in a rather self-contained spot separate from my more “everyday” jewelry, so I don’t plan to get rid of them anytime soon.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I kept my jewelry pieces around because they didn’t take up much space, too, Sarah. But I didn’t realize that I couldn’t see the things I loved because there was just SO MUCH stuff in my armoire. Since my re-organization last weekend, I’ve worn some rediscovered pieces and feel like I have NEW pieces! I wish I had some vintage jewelry from my grandmothers or other relatives. I have very few family heirlooms, sadly. I don’t think we should get rid of things that add value to our lives, but I think it’s always a good idea to clarify what does and doesn’t add to our lives. You’ve done so and that’s great!

      • Thanks, Debbie. I always appreciate that you take the time to reply so thoughtfully to all your commenters. I think it makes for a really great community (I think people then make thoughtful comments because they know they will be “heard”) and I learn a lot from the comments as well as from your main posts.

        So it seems like with your clothing wardrobe, you’ve started with the impulse to pare down the sheer number of things in your closet, and then you started thinking and writing in really useful ways about how to BUILD a workable clothing wardrobe. I keep puzzling over how that would work as applied to jewelry, but I can’t quite work it out for myself yet. Proportions/formulas? Wears per year? Etc. I’m sort of trying to apply those concepts in an analogous way to jewelry but it hasn’t gelled for me yet. I would love to see you write about the topic of building a jewelry/accessory wardrobe that works, if you have any interest in that.

        In fact, I would posit that a lot of people would benefit from thinking about how to build a workable jewelry/accessory wardrobe at least as much if not more than a clothing wardrobe. That’s because while we usually choose most of our clothes for ourselves, I think a lot of jewelry is chosen for us by others (gifts, hand-me-downs/heirlooms, etc.). That probably leaves a lot of people with a lack of basics. I know that I for example don’t have a pair of simple gold stud earrings. Yet I don’t really feel confident about what purchases would really become “workhorses” in the jewelry department. You know what I mean?

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I enjoy conversing with readers, Sarah. As long as I am able to respond to everyone, I will continue to do so. I learn a lot from the comments, too!

          Only recently have I started to apply the same level of thought to jewelry and accessories as I’ve been giving to clothing since I started the blog. In truth, I had too much of everything, but the clothes took up more space and thus were more pressing in my opinion. I plan to write more about jewelry and accessories and your comments have given me some food for thought.

          You’re right that people are probably gifted with jewelry and accessories more often than clothes due to size considerations and jewelry is passed down through the generations more more readily, too. When I was doing wardrobe consulting, I was always surprised at how few jewelry pieces (and often shoes and accessories, too) my clients owned, especially since many of them had an over-abundance of clothing. I think there are MANY topics to be explored in this area! If you or anyone else has specific suggestions (you’ve already presented a few), I would definitely be open to them!

  13. Unfortunately, my storage armoire is overflowing as well. I have things a large selection of pieces stored in plastic shoe bins by color and materials. I often have a difficult time locating pieces and know I need to downsize my collection.
    However, I have inherited a huge assortment of “bijoux” “junk-jewelry” from an Aunt when I closed out her apartment of 30 years in Rome Italy. I have literally pounds and pounds of jewelry. Have incorporated a few pieces into my things but, am needing to either sell or dispose of the excess pieces.
    Alas…so difficult to part with in the end.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, it can definitely be difficult to part with old pieces, Erin. Perhaps the method I outlined would help you make decisions about your aunt’s pieces. Try making the decisions first and worry about what to do with what you don’t love later. It’s much easier that way.

  14. I’ve needed this, Debbie, thanks! I am still contemplating a garage sale (vs outright donation) as I have some household items that could sell well (hellooooo, juicer). I’ve outright rejected the idea of including jewelry in my Project 333 wardrobes because the items all have “homes” and I waffle between many weeks of wearing exactly the same thing and wanting exactly X.

    I’ve got a lot of cheap or poorly-made jewelry left over from college and law school or jewelry in-home parties hosted by friends, and I’ve started to acquire a few things from my mom that have been passed down through the family that are far lovelier and more special to me, so it’s time to let go of the other stuff. I’ve managed to pitch a plasticky or skin-discoloring inexpensive statement necklace here or there in the past, and I’ve not acquired new for some time, but I’ve stopped paying attention to a lot of things this summer and it’s time to dive back in.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you found this post helpful, Rebecca! My husband and I had a garage sale around the time of our last move and felt it was more trouble than it was worth, but some people swear by them. I never included jewelry in Project 333, either, as I like to mix things up a lot in that department. However, I AM happy that I have pared down my jewelry collection. I had lots of old stuff left from years ago, too. Some of it made the cut, but a lot of it did not. If you try the method I suggested, please let me know how it goes!

  15. I’ve never had trouble with amassing too much jewelry like I do clothing. Even in my younger, cheaper days I would buy real sterling silver, so I never went overboard. It’s honestly only in the last 10 years I’ve gotten more on the costume jewelry bandwagon.
    Interestingly, the very statement necklaces and black bracelets you are purging are the ones I would pick to wear out of the sets! Funny how that is. Hey, if you want to pass them on . . . I could be interested actually.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for not going overboard on jewelry, Mo! I wish I could pass the bracelets and necklaces on to you, but I brought them to a consignment store over the weekend. Surprisingly, they took everything I brought in! But if I had known you would have wanted my cast-offs, I would have definitely been willing to send them your way. I will keep that in mind for the future. It is SO true that one person’s trash is another one’s treasure! Not that I thought those items were “trash,” but they just weren’t “me.”

  16. Sarah S. says:

    Great job, Debbie! I did organize my jewelry drawer the other week, but I also have two boxes with stuff jumbled up in them. I really should get it all together and figure out what I actually want to wear and what can be repaired or cleaned. I can’t wait for the posts on what to DO with it all, though. That’s what always stops me with jewelry. I don’t often remember what the item is made of, and especially if it’s a broken piece, or a single earring, I don’t know what to do about it. If you take broken pieces to sell the silver, will they value any semi-precious stones too? And broken watches, what about them? I also have a Victorian ring, but have no clue what it’s made of – how do I find out if it’s worth something?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I hope you decide to try the method I outlined, Sarah. I really think it helps to not think too far ahead and just focus on what you do and don’t like. You’ll likely never recoup the full value of a piece, but there ARE alternatives for what to do with your cast-offs. I don’t even know all the answers yet, but will do the research. Just separate what you love from what you don’t for now and worry about the rest later. I really do think you’ll feel better having done that even if the cast-offs are still in your home for a little while.

  17. GingerR says:

    That’s interesting. I’m not a huge jewelry person, but my box could use some cleaning out. As you note, it’s small and easily stashed.

    It seems like you’ve bought the same thing multiple times. The statement necklaces and earrings are all quite similar, and the giveaway items have similarity. Do you think this will help you make decisions in the future?

    What’s your position on things that are so nice, in my case usually gifts, that you don’t want to wear them because you might lose them? Am I the only person who owns fake diamond earrings that I wear instead of the real ones -a gift from husband- that are in a drawer at home?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I definitely think my recent jewelry purge and the new armoire organization will help me make better jewelry purchasing decisions, Ginger. I think I just saw things I liked and didn’t think too much about what I might already have that is similar. I did the same with clothes a lot in the past, too, but organizing my closet by color and type has helped in that regard.

      In regards to being afraid of losing things, I would take the pieces to a jeweler and have safeties put on. I know you have screw-on backs for earrings that are more secure, as well as safety chains for bracelets, watches, and necklaces. I think the people who give us jewelry really want us to wear it instead of have it sit in a drawer. It will cost a bit of money to have safety precautions added, but I think it will be money well spent.

  18. Congrats on clearing out your jewelry. I’m actually on the opposite end of this spectrum and have been looking to add a few fashion jewelry pieces. I realized the jewelry pieces I do have, are fine jewelry and although pretty, sometimes it’s nice to wear a fashion piece instead, which are usually larger, have more color and I don’t mind packing on a vacation. I told DH he is not allowed to purchase anymore pendant necklaces for me, I only have one neck.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Funny about what you told DH, Lisa! I have too many pendant necklaces for my one neck, too! I think fashion jewelry pieces can be a good way to play with trends, especially for those of us who have too many clothes. You’re right about it being better to pack fashion jewelry for vacation, too. My mom had her rings stolen on vacation years ago, so I’ve always thought twice about taking expensive jewelry with me when I travel.

  19. I’m actually in the process of reworking some of my jewelry so that it will get more wear. I have two different pearl rings that I’m having melted down and turned into a single cluster ring and a pair of gemstone earrings that I’m turning into simple studs instead of drop earrings. It’s relatively expensive but these were gifts or hand-me-downs from my mom so I prefer to work with these instead of selling them and buying new.

    Most of my jewelry is heirloom or sentimental, but I did go through my collection and found a few pieces that are neither sentimental nor my taste anymore. I still have some little-girl jewelry in my collection 🙂 I have set them to the side for now and am looking forward to hearing what you’ve turned up in your research!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I was actually going to do a follow-up post on re-working jewelry, Sara, as I have done that, too. I haven’t had another melted down yet, but that’s a really good idea. I’m considering that with some rings I have that I don’t wear. I think the expense can be worth it for pieces we’d like to retain in some form, such as heirlooms and sentimental items. Congrats on finding some pieces to pass on, too. I hope to find a lot of viable options for releasing our cast-off items. Not all options will work for everyone, but my hope is that everyone will find at least one option that will work for them.

  20. Deborah (Deby) says:

    I have not considered my jewelry collection as part of the culling down of my wardrobe over the past year (my version of Project 333–Project 198!), because for me, jewelry exists in a separate, special sphere. My jewelry collection spans 40 years, dating from pieces that I made for myself as I was learning to work in silver in high school, to contemporary purchases. I am always adding, editing, revising the pieces in my collection to make them more relevant to my current life.

    I have never been attracted to fashion jewelry. Ever since I was a young child, I have been attracted to genuine stones, first in silver for many years, later in gold. For me, genuine stones evoke certain moods and I choose pieces every day to reflect that. At present, I’m more attracted to handmade artisan silver pieces rather than gold. I admire the work of jewelry designers like Robert Lee Morris, whose pieces have an oversized organic feel.

    Much of my jewelry has been made for me, and is of my own design. For many years I have cultivated relationships with jewelry designers and stone suppliers, the end result being unique pieces that were made from stones I sourced. All of these pieces have a sort of talismanic meaning to me, relating to various things and events in my life.

    Although I’m not formally educated in gemology, I have studied gemstones (both semi-precious and precious) a great deal, and I have periodically worked in jewelry stores (both fine jewelry stores and individual artisans), which has been an educational experience.

    While I do have a larger curated jewelry collection, I also cull through it at least once a year. Sometimes I am inspired to give pieces as gifts, other times I sell them on ebay.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your jewelry collection sounds beautiful, Deby. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a larger jewelry collection and mine will likely always be larger than average, too. But many people hold on to pieces they no longer love and I wanted to push people to evaluate what they have more closely. I love handmade pieces, too, and have held on to some for many, many years. I’d like to purchase more handmade pieces moving forward, as I like the custom and unique nature of them. For awhile, I was more into fashion jewelry, but I have re-discovered some of my custom pieces in my recent jewelry clean-out and I look forward to wearing them again!

  21. Carolyn says:

    Wow, you do have a lot of jewellery Debbie!!!!

    While I have been guilty in the past of buying cheap and junky baubles I rarely buy jewellery now. I remember going on a trip once and taking so much jewellery with me as I couldn’t decide and it weighed a ton.

    I culled out my jewellery collection a few years ago when I moved overseas. I had so much and like my clothes, too much color !!! I now prefer to wear simple silver and/or gold. I got rid of all the colored beads and the dangly earrings.

    I wear 2 diamond rings daily, one is my wedding ring. I used to change my earrings with my outfits but now wear simple diamond studs 99% of the time. I have a Pandora charm bracelet which I always wear.

    I tend to accesorize with a long necklace and/or bracelets, usually silver but I also love mixing gold and silver together. I like unique artisinal jewellery in heavy silver. I have some lovely bracelets I bought many years ago. I wear different bracelet combinations every day, also a solid silver necklace. I feel like I have enough to choose from. Keeping it simpler is better for me.

    I tend to buy jewellery when I am on holiday and have the time to look at handmade pieces.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I know it’s a lot, Carolyn, but it seems much more manageable to me now. I have actually pared down a lot since I started the blog, but I only counted the pieces for the first time this past February. I will likely continue to pare down, but I don’t have a target number in mind now that I’ve reached my goal for this year. The important thing is that I love and wear my pieces, not how many I have, so we’ll see what I wear and what I don’t . Your collection sounds very nice. I like to find special handmade pieces on holiday, too. I used to buy all of my pieces at boutiques and art festivals (they had nice ones where I used to live) and only started buying pieces at the mall in recent years. Now I think I’d like to go back to the types of artisinal pieces you referenced. I still have pieces like that from as far back as 20 years and continue to love them!

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