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.
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.
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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.