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!


37 thoughts on “Peeling Away the Layers – Another Jewelry Pare-Down

  1. I am SO impressed with the jewelry remakes! It makes all the difference. Your husband has the skills, but you had the vision. Well done!

    • Thanks, Susan! I’ve been inspired to try to remake things after seeing other bloggers do it. The re-styles may not always work out, but if it’s cheap (or free) and easy to do, why not give it a try?

      • Your jewelry culls are super! How do i join your blog? Anyway, i am known among my friends as the “jewelry collector” but lately, after taking the Dressing Your Truth course and joining several blogs and challenges i have found i cannot wear silver jewelry because it aids in washing my face out. I am 71 years and DYT taught me that i need the warmth of gold and no blacks, etc., I have white hair and blue eyes and a round face and some things are too over the top for me. I have necklaces hung on the wall, so once i wear something i will find a way to indicate that it has been worn, and other things are in hanging pouches and a large 50+ year old Lady Buxton jewelry case. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas because i am sometimes nutsy in a charmin charlies!

      • I’m glad you liked this post, Judy. If you’d like to subscribe to my blog, you can do so via the sign-up box at the top right of the page. I’ve done “Dressing Your Truth,” too, and came out as a Type 4, so silver jewelry is recommended for me (which was good because that’s mostly what I had). It sounds like you have a good jewelry storage method worked out. If you opt to start tracking, I’m sure you’ll find it very enlightening, as I have. I’m guessing I’ll be able to peel away another layer or two by the end of the year as a result. As for Charming Charlie, I’ve heard it can be a dangerous place to visit, but there isn’t one near to where I live (probably a good thing).

      • I am a type one…and the personality part hit the nail on the head. My brain is very scattered, i know no strangers, have a round face and a turned up nose…there you go!

      • I find Dressing Your Truth and Energy Profiling fascinating. I wasn’t a clear-cut Type 4, as I have a lot of Type 2 in me, too, but in the end, it became very clear to me where I best fit. The style recommendations for Type 4 really resonate with me, but I’m a bit of a rebel, so I still sometimes wear other colors and silhouettes. But I think even the rebellious part still fits with my type – LOL.

      • i hear you.. i still have some black and white pieces and some silver jewelry i have had for years that i will not part with.

  2. You have been really busy Debbie! I love that you read all the comments and actually use some of the tips.
    I too, am impressed with the remakes. Well done Mr. Roes!

    • Thanks, Jessica! I definitely read all the comments and try to respond to most of them, too. I get some really good tips, so I try to incorporate at least some of them. I also like to share them in future posts, as I know not everyone reads the comments. Yes, my husband did a good job with the re-makes and it took him less than 10 minutes, too!

  3. Way to go Debbie! This seems to have been a great way for you to pare down more of your jewelry. I still have too much. I like your idea of remakes so perhaps I can look at some of mine to see if they can be remade into something I’d wear more often.

    • I think a lot of us have too much jewelry, Kim. It may even be a bigger problem than clothes for some people, as jewelry takes up less space so we’re more inclined to hang on to it. I haven’t done very many remakes yet, but the few I have done have been successes. I had a brown leather bracelet (the one with the silver hearts on it) dyed black and I combined two pairs of earrings into one pair (in the earring photo above, it’s the third pair in the bottom left compartment – I got help from a jeweler on that one). I like to get creative with these things. Perhaps you’ll have some fun with it, too!

  4. I think it is great that you are doing this! I have to admit that even though I understood your jewelry armoire to be large I was still amazed at how large it really is. I wouldn’t be able to ever make a decision about what jewelry to wear if I had that much. Hope you find the right balance for yourself soon. It would be lovely to hear that you are happy with your wardrobe and accessories and feel good about your outfits consistently.

    • Yes, my jewelry armoire is pretty big, Juhli, but it was really stuffed to the gills at the beginning of this year. As I pare down, I may want to downsize my storage, but I think I can get rid of even 50% more and still be okay with it. I would definitely be able to see what I have more, which is important if we want to wear everything! Thanks for your kind wishes. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. I want those things for myself, too!

  5. Great post, Debbie! I tried the “compare two earrings” trick just quickly for a few minutes and realized that when I wear dangly earrings I prefer them to rest just below my earlobe. Longer ones just don’t look right to me. Now I can pass on several pairs of earrings that I like when I just look at them in isolation in my jewelry box, but that I wasn’t wearing. Super helpful!

    I’ve found that with clothing I prefer to wear a relatively small number of silhouettes/proportions, and I’ve started to figure out the fairly precise measurements of garments that end up looking “right” to me. The more I stick to those exact proportions the happier I am with what I wear (and this is a totally personal thing — I think I have mentioned before that I like my clothing variety to come from pattern and color, others may prefer a narrow color palette and more variety in silhouette). I suspect that the same will be true for jewelry/accessories as well. Thanks for giving me some tools to help sort that out!

    • I’m glad my earring tip was helpful for you, Sarah. It really helped me to make decisions and I’m going to continue to use it. I am like you in terms of clothing silhouettes/proportions. I’m trying to broaden my horizons a bit, but I think I will always like to vary color and pattern more than silhouette. There isn’t really a right and wrong with this; we just need to be happy with the level of variety we have. I wish you the best with sorting out your jewelry/accessories. Please report back and share how it’s going for you.

    • Yes, paring down can get a bit addictive, Mette, as I know you’re aware of 🙂 Those two pairs of earrings are some of the oldest things I own! I bought them in a small jewelry store in a coastside town I used to visit back when I lived in Northern California. I’m guessing they are 17-18 years old, which is almost unheard of in my wardrobe! I probably should have only bought ONE of them since they’re so alike, but my penchant for purchasing multiples was pretty entrenched at the time (and until recently). I’m not sure if I should keep both pairs, but I do wear them. I guess if I had to pick, I’d choose the ones with the amethyst stones, as they are more unique, but I love the plainer ones, too, as they can be worn with more things. I don’t plan to do this type of duplication again, but I may opt to hold on to both. We’ll see as I get farther along with my pare-down effort.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I don’t have that large of a jewelry collection, but I do have pieces I hang onto just because, and I was really struck by applying the hanger technique to jewelry – I would never have thought about it, even though it’s so simple!

    • I didn’t think about it either, Laura, and I’ve been using the “hanger trick” with my clothes for years! I guess I didn’t realize how much of a burden my large jewelry collection was until recently. I hope that I will be able to pare down further as I implement the great suggestion I got from Kathy. I hope it will be helpful to you, too!

  7. Just out of curiosity, what do you do with the jewelry you no longer want to keep? Do you take it to consignment? Give it to friends? Donate to charity? Sell on ebay? I’m in a similar situation where I have a number of jewelry pieces I want to sell on ebay and I’m having trouble getting motivated to do all that involves. My regular consignment store does not want to handle jewelry.

    • I think not knowing what to do with cast-off jewelry is what had me wait so long to pare down, Deby. I’ve done a few jewelry culls since the beginning of the year, as you know, and I have done various things with the pieces I let go of. I started with passing along items to a few people I thought might enjoy them. Not too much fit into that category, so I then moved on to consignment. Fortunately, the two consignment stores I mostly visit will take jewelry, but one pays so little for it that I usually don’t take anything there. With the other store, it’s a bit hit or miss. Once they only took a few pieces, but the last two times they took almost everything I brought in. I know I don’t get a lot of money for things, so I’ve held off on taking any finer pieces there. Those are still waiting to be dealt with and I will write about my solutions once I figure them out! For the costume/inexpensive pieces, I donate whatever the consignment store doesn’t take to a local charity boutique. I do plan to sell one necklace on Ebay, which will be my first time doing so (I’ve sold clothing and shoes there but not jewelry as of yet). I will share how that goes after I do it (plan to list the necklace this weekend). I know it’s a pain to deal with cast-off jewelry and I’ve definitely procrastinated quite a bit with mine. But I was ready to make a change and I’m glad that I did so. I’m finding that doing a little at a time is working well for me.

  8. I really like the remade necklaces. They look better and more your style to me now.
    I’ve passed along quite a bit of jewelry this year and I think I could easily come up with some more. I had quite a bit of brown leather bracelets or necklaces in my collection and I almost never wear brown anymore.
    I actually just bought three necklaces that go better with the clothing that I own now. Most of my winter wardrobe is very simple so I wanted give myself more options to make things look a bit different.

    • Thanks, Tonya. I’m glad I thought about remaking the necklaces and hope I will wear them more often now. They are definitely more true to my style, so I’m hopeful. I had a brown leather bracelet that I had dyed black last year. It’s the one with the silver hearts on it in the bottom left corner of the bracelets photo. I now wear it all the time, so it was worth paying to have it dyed (a local cobbler did it – they also dyed a brown pair of boots and purse black for me). Congrats on paring down your jewelry and finding necklaces that work better with your wardrobe. I’ve decided not to buy anymore silver necklaces or bracelets and only buy ones with color (and even then, sparingly). Bridgette Raes really convinced me of the power of accessories to change things up!

  9. Wow, I bet you feel so much lighter with that additional weight lifted off your shoulders! Oddly my jewelry collection is very small right now since I purged out all the pieces I didn’t really love (aka cheap crap) last year. Now it feels like I have some fancy pieces, but no basics. And minimalist jewelry I think is really my style now. I guess I’ll have to start making a list and adding some *quality* classics to my three year plan! Like you I’ve noticed I don’t really feel that drawn to necklaces these days and will probably stick with earrings and rings. I love the look of bracelets but unfortunately can’t stand the way they feel. Shopping should be easier and less stressful now that I know my colors and styles thanks to your blog and all your wonderful style links!

    • I’m so glad my blog has been helpful to you with your shopping and wardrobe journey, Sarah. I DO feel much lighter as I pare down both my wardrobe and my jewelry collection. I didn’t realize what an emotional burden it has been for me to have so much stuff! Curating a workable jewelry collection can be just as challenging as building a workable wardrobe. I think that having the types of realizations you’ve made is an important step. When we take a step back, we’re able to better understand what we actually like and wear. Just because lots of people are wearing necklaces and bracelets doesn’t mean it’s right for us. Best wishes to you moving forward with getting some minimalist jewelry pieces that you’ll love to wear!

  10. My jewellery collection is minimal. Mainly silver, all quality pieces and only two pairs of earrings – both diamond studs. My downfall is cardigans

    • Congrats on having a manageable and workable jewelry collection, Saltbox! About the cardigans, most of us have our things and an overabundance of cardigans has been one of mine, too. One step at a time. Gradually, if we work on our wardrobe challenges, we’ll get to where we want to be!

  11. Another home run! This helped me purge a bunch of earrings I never wore… I am mostly a hoop or stud person. Time to let the rest go! I am fortunate to be able to donate my purged items to Jewels for Hope which is part of the children’s diabetes guild I am involved in. They resell and sometimes remake any type of jewelry. Kudos on the remake efforts! Looks great and who knows…you could be onto a new hobby 🙂

    • Congrats on purging the earrings, Paula! Glad I could be helpful in that process. Jewels for Hope sounds like a wonderful charity. I wonder if it’s nationwide. I think it helps a lot to have a good cause for one’s castoffs, whether it’s a charity or a friend or family member (or some combination thereof). I know that sometimes I keep things because I don’t know what to do with them. I have some rings that would fit into that category (I haven’t even addressed those here!). If I could find a good home for them, I would be more than happy to pass them along, as I don’t think I’m likely to wear some of them again. Yes, I could find a new hobby involving jewelry. Perhaps I will take a class at some point.

      • Well, I researched Jewels for Hope and it looks like it’s only part of the Denver children’s diabetes guild. You can mail in pieces and I’m going to find out if they have postage paid mailer envelopes, if you are interested. The guild supports the Barbara Davis center for children’s diabetes (they do the Carousel of Hope affair in Los Angeles). They are able to provide assistance for many families dealing with type 1 diabetes diagnosises. It can be horribly expensive!! Anyway, let me know if you are interested!

      • Thanks for following up on Jewels for Hope, Paula. Yes, I wold like to know more about this charity and how to mail in pieces to donate. I’ve been planning on writing up a “what to do with your jewelry cast-offs” post for awhile and would like to include this information. You can post it here or send it directly to me via the “Connect” page. I think that many of us would be happy to pass on some of our unwanted jewelry items if we knew it would be going to a good cause.

      • Ok, I will check into it for you. They take anything! Thanks so much, I know they would appreciate the support!!

  12. This has absolutely nothing to do with paring down jewelry, but I couldn’t resist sharing my experience with Nordstrom Rack! A frustrating situation became a benefit in reverse–because of NR’s horrible understaffing, I refused to wait in line 30 minutes to make a small purchase.

    For the past two years, NR has had a nice selection of thick cotton velour leggings by Hue. I wanted to find out if they got them again this year, because I want a pair in black.

    So yesterday I called the store. They had two salespeople working the entire store in the middle of the afternoon and one of them was on her break. The woman I was speaking to was running the register and couldn’t leave to go to Accessories and look for Hue leggings.

    Today I happened to be near the store on another errand, and decided to detour and look for myself. No velour Hue leggings, but I did find a butter yellow cotton cable tunic sweater–I had been looking for a top this color, and this one was interesting. I meandered about for a bit, but nothing else caught my attention. I was fully cognizant if I found myself looking at anything that was redundant to my closet!

    When I made it up to the register, to my chagrin, there was one cashier, and a line that stretched halfway back the store. I asked myself, “is this unique sweater worth standing in line for over 30 minutes to purchase?” And the answer was “no”.

    So thank you and good work (!), Nordstrom, for helping me be able to walk away from an impulse purchase through the simple means of not providing enough store staff to handle the influx of customers!

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Deby. It’s okay to post things that are not related to the current post’s topic. As I have only visited Nordstrom Rack a few times, I had no idea that their customer service is so different from the standard Nordstrom store. Having to wait 30 minutes to buy something sounds totally unacceptable and more like what one would expect at Old Navy or the like. Sorry to hear that you weren’t able to buy the sweater, but I’m not sure what item I’d be willing to stand in line for 30 minutes to buy. The reason I mentioned Old Navy is because I had to wait probably 20-30 minutes to buy some shorts for my husband there this past summer. I was willing to wait to buy shorts for my husband, but I don’t know if I’d be willing to wait that long to buy something for myself. Maybe if it was pants or a skirt, as it’s so hard for me to buy bottoms, but I doubt I’d wait that long to buy a top or topper! By the way, I just ordered a pencil skirt online from Boden. Fingers crossed that it will work! I can’t seem to find good bottoms in person, so I’m taking my chances online. Bridgette recommended Boden for me, so I’m giving them a try. At least I was able to get free shipping.

    • Love the tale! I have been there and experienced that. I never look back and pine for the item I passed on 🙂

  13. How clever to remake jewelry! And a great way to continue to make a piece work for you instead of just giving up on it. This reminds me that I should go through my costume jewelry sometime.

    • I figure it’s worth a try and if I still don’t wear the necklaces, they can be consigned or donated and enjoyed by someone else. I had SO much jewelry at the beginning of this year and I’m thrilled to be gradually weeding through it and paring things down.

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