In my last post, I shared the results of a wardrobe memory exercise that I recently took on. I tried to remember the contents of my closet and jewelry box without looking. I found that I was able to write down 91% of my wardrobe (including shoes) but only 77% of my jewelry collection. I came to a number of conclusions from doing the exercise, one of which was that I still own too many garments, shoes, and accessories for my lifestyle.
Since it has been almost a year since I used the “KonMari Method” in my closet (I also used the process with my books and compact discs), I have decided to take it on again, beginning with my jewelry. This afternoon, I spent approximately an hour and a half going through my bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and other jewelry pieces to see what does and doesn’t “spark joy.” In today’s post, I share the process and the results of this session.
What Is the “KonMari Method”?
Most of you are probably familiar with the decluttering method outlined in Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” but I will briefly recap it here for those who may not know much about it. Basically, the process directs us to identify those items which bring us joy and to release everything else.
The beauty of the “KonMari Method” is that it directs our focus toward what we want to keep rather than those things that no longer serve us. It also focuses on categories of items instead of locations in our homes. We are instructed to gather all like objects together in one place (usually the floor), handle them one by one, and ask ourselves the simple question,
Does this spark joy?”
If the answer to the above question is yes, the item remains in our home. If the answer is no, it gets passed on so that it will hopefully bring joy to someone else. If you go with your first instinct in responding to the question above, you will likely know the answer pretty quickly. If you start to hesitate and let your intellect start coming up with reasons why you should hold on to something, that’s when you get into trouble and basically end up keeping everything. It’s not easy to trust your intuition, but that’s where the “magic” of Kondo’s process lies.
KonMari with My Jewelry – The Bracelets
Instead of hauling out all of my jewelry at once, I opted to go through it by categories, starting with my bracelets. I placed all of my bracelets on my bed and picked them up one by one and pondered whether or not they spark joy (an alternate question you can ask is the one used by The Minimalists, “Does this add value to my life?”).
Sometimes I didn’t get an immediate “read” on the sparks joy question, so I placed the bracelet on my wrist and looked at it. I also went over to the mirror to see a full image of myself wearing the bracelet. It quickly became clear to me which pieces I wanted to keep and which ones I was ready to let go of. Here are the four bracelets I decided to pass on and why:
- Multi-stone inlay: While the look of this bracelet does spark joy, the piece is not comfortable to wear. It’s quite heavy and often turns around on my wrist in an annoying way.
- Multi-color chain: This bracelet is just too dark and most of the chains are warm-toned, whereas my preference is for cool tones.
- Amethyst and marcasite chain: While I love amethyst, this bracelet is too old-fashioned looking for my taste.
- Thick silver chain: This chain is too thick and it’s also a little short for my wrist. I have another silver chain that I always reach for over this one.
The Necklaces – and the Concept of “Waste”
I tackled my necklace collection next, also laying them all out on my bed and picking them up individually to ponder whether or not they spark joy. I found the necklaces a bit more difficult to decide upon, as some of them were either expensive or were given to me as gifts by family members or friends.
I was reminded of a recent discussion in my private Facebook group, in which one of the members asked for advice about purging an unloved item. She felt guilty about the waste involved in having paid for something that she only wore twice. I share those guilty feelings, but it’s compounded in some cases because I feel my loved ones’ money is being wasted. Here are some of the helpful comments from the group on this subject:
- I think it’s more of a waste when something sits in my wardrobe not being worn and loved. To me, that feels like waste. To release something to be bought, worn, and loved by someone else seems like a positive action; no waste involved!
- If you feel like you are wasting the money spent on the item, you could always try to sell it.However, simply donating something is not necessarily a waste if the item really is making you unhappy. Consider the money spent as paying for a lesson and let go of the item so it can make someone else happy. There’s no use keeping it and making yourself more miserable.
- You’re not wasting resources if you donate and someone else actually ends up using it! And anyway, the resources were used at the moment of purchase (or frankly, the moment it was created). You help no one (and not the earth, either) by keeping something that brings you no joy.
- You can let it go! Take the time to learn why you bought it and what it is that you don’t like, so you don’t repeat the mistake. Then it’s not a waste.
- I’m wondering if you feel you have to keep the item to justify why you bought it in the first place and to make sense of a “bad” decision. If so, it seems to me this is the same reason why sometimes people stay in a bad relationship – because to end it would be to admit our initial judgment was flawed. But there’s no point staying in an unhealthy relationship. It’s better to make a clean break, learn from the mistake (which you have), and move on to better things. Somewhere out there is someone else who would be happy to have the item you’re letting go of!
- You didn’t waste; you spent the money on educating your eye. Thank the item and let it go to a charity or a friend so that it can continue its journey. It has served you well. You’ve gained a good amount of knowledge and now you get to bless someone else with it…Win-win!
- Remember what you once told me: “The real waste is having things we do not love and use.” I printed that out and put it on the bulletin board that greets me in my closet every morning, and it seems appropriate for this dilemma.
- Sunk Costs: You already spent the money; it’s not part of the item. It’s something that took place in the past, and you’re tying it to the garment even though it no longer has any relevance to it. So, what is it now? A piece of fabric that makes you feel bad. Why would you keep it? It’s like continuing to eat when you’re full, making yourself feel sick, and ruining the dinner you just spent money on. Stop when you’ve had enough, and continue with activities which improve your mood.
Such wise words! Reading them again helped me to muster the courage to release some necklaces that do not spark joy. Here are the necklaces I opted to let go of and why:
- Long chain with triangular pendant details: The chain is too thin and the pendant doesn’t hang well. This necklace was better in theory than in practice.
- Silver pendant with rhinestone details: This pendant is too shiny and I don’t like the “bling.” I have a similar pendant that I like much better and always choose over this one.
- Multi-stone pendant: I love the stones, but the pendant is just too big for my style preferences. I felt guilty because it was a gift from my mom, but I’ll let someone else enjoy the pendant now.
- Agate pendant: The chain is too thin and the color is too grey for my preferences.
- Peridot/topaz pendant: I don’t love the colors, even though peridot is my birthstone. The stones are too warm-toned and I prefer cool tones. This pendant was a 40th birthday gift from my dad and stepmother, but I did wear it early on and appreciated the sentiment very much.
- Green stone pendant on gunmetal chain: This necklace is too “blingy” for my style, although I did love and wear it when I first owned it.
- Silver star pendant: I love stars, but this pendant is just too delicate for me. My friend gave it to me not long ago and while I really appreciated the thought, the necklace is not my style.
The Earrings and a Few Other Things
Finally, I went through my earrings, as well as a few other random items that were in my jewelry box, including some rings and pendants. The earrings were easier for me to address than the necklaces, as most of them were not very expensive and I have a good sense of what I do and don’t like in that category. I did have to try a few pairs on and look at myself in the mirror in order to decide whether or not they sparked joy. In such instances, I used the “first impression test” to make my decision. Here are the earrings I decided to cull, as well as one pendant and one ring:
- Paris pendant: Looks too old-fashioned and vintage-inspired for my taste.
- Moon and star earrings: Too small and I prefer dangling earrings over posts.
- Opal ring: Although it’s pretty, I always wear the same three rings and haven’t worn this one in years. It was also given to me by an ex-boyfriend and still feels associated to him in my mind.
- Silver feather earrings: Too bohemian for my style.
- Swarovski crystal earrings: I thought these were black crystals when I bought them, but they are brown. I’m not a fan of brown (for me).
- Dark green fan style earrings: I don’t love the color and I have other similar earrings that I like a lot more.
- Silver lattice earrings with lapis stone: These earrings are too delicate in style and the stones are too small.
- Long silver earrings with rhinestones: Too much “bling” for my taste.
- Malachite stone earrings: I don’t love how these look on me and I have other similar earrings that I prefer.
How Much I Purged
So let’s recap what I ended up purging as a result of the “KonMari Method” today:
- 4 bracelets
- 7 necklaces
- 7 pairs of earrings
- 1 pendant
- 1 ring
- TOTAL: 20 items
That may not seem like a lot, but my jewelry collection is not nearly as large as it used to be. In addition, my goal is not to have the smallest number of items possible; it’s to only own pieces that I love and wear. It’s possible that I’ll pare down further later in the year, as I may decide that some items don’t spark joy as I wear them. But for now, I’m happy with my current collection.
An Updated Jewelry Inventory
Now that I’ve purged some jewelry pieces that I no longer love, I thought I’d do a quick jewelry inventory. It was fun for me to compare my current count to the first jewelry inventory I did back in February 2014 (see differences in parentheses).
- Watches: 5 (same)
- Rings: 8 (-9)
- Brooches: 5 (-8)
- Pendants: 5 (-4)
- Necklaces: 16 (-49)
- Bracelets: 12 (-43)
- Single Stud Earrings: 5 (-6, worn in second ear piercing in left ear)
- Standard Earrings: 40 (-61)
- GRAND TOTAL: 96 (-186!)
Over the past 27 months, I have downsized my jewelry collection by 66%! This has happened over a few large purges, as well as some gradual culling done over time. If you want to read about my process, you can check out the following posts, from the earliest to most recent:
- Looking Outside the Closet: My Jewelry Inventory (February 2014)
- How to Pare Down a Large Jewelry Collection (June 2014)
- Peeling Away the Layers – Another Jewelry Pare-Down (October 2014)
- January 2015 Closet Purge and Inventory
- KonMari in the Closet – My May Closet Purging Session (May 2015)
- May “Love It, Wear It” Challenge Update – Part Two (May 2015)
- June “Love It, Wear It” Challenge Update – Part Two (June 2015)
- July “Love It, Wear It” Challenge Update (July 2015)
- October “Love It, Wear It” Challenge Update (October 2015)
- November “Love It, Wear It” Challenge Update (November 2015)
- “Love It, Wear It” Challenge Debrief: Shoes and Accessories (February 2016)
In the coming weeks, I plan to use the KonMari Method with my clothes, shoes, and other accessories (scarves and purses) and will share my experiences here as well. I’d love for some of you join in and share your results and insights, too. If you’re not ready to downsize your wardrobe just yet, why not try the process with another area of your home, such as your books or kitchen supplies? Alternatively, you can opt to use the method with just one area of your closet, such as your burgeoning jeans or t-shirt collections. Every little bit helps!
If you have any thoughts or questions on what I’ve shared today, please share them. If you’d like to report on your own decluttering experience, either using KonMari or another process, that would be great, too. I’ll be back later this week with a photography interlude post and stay tuned for my April 2015 purchase update, coming soon.
Wow Debbie, you have downsized your collection so much in two years! Well done. I think your numbers are pretty good now. Very wearable amounts. You have inspired me to count mine again.
Watches – 1
Rings – 10
Bracelets – 14 (+5 formal)
Earrings – 15 (+17 dressy/formal)
Necklaces – 20 (+9 dressy/formal or nostalgic) A lot of the casual necklaces were gifts actually. The ones I have bought myself I wear the most. I also find that I used to wear them all more before I started wearing scarves a lot. I also have a couple of vintage items from my mum which I have worn on occasion, but would never purge. I think I might have too many dressy earrings since I wear them the least. Some are not really my style anymore, I had thought to get rid of a few, so thanks for the reminder!
I’m glad this post inspired you to count your jewelry, Ruth. Your numbers look good, too. I probably have more earrings than most people, but I collected them over a number of years. I accumulated a lot of necklaces for someone who doesn’t wear them all that often. I really don’t know why I kept buying them, but then again I’ve done a lot of mind-boggling things related to shopping! Best wishes to you in downsizing your dressy earrings.
Something about these Konmari posts sparks a lot of joy in me hahaha. I used to be the type of person who would save everything “just in case,” so it’s kind of weird to realize that I not only like to Konmari my own things, but that I have become the person who get excited reading about other people doing it too. I guess I love “before and after” posts. Progress baby!
Reading back through your first jewelry Konmari post, I just noticed a tip I want to try, the one where you put chalk in your jewelry box to prevent tarnishing. I did not know that one before! I will have to try this. I know there are DIY ways to get rid of tarnish but this is the first time I read about someone successfully averting it. Thanks!
I like reading about other people’s KonMari process, too, Jane, and before and after photos are great. I didn’t do those this time because the difference was not all that dramatic, but I may do it with my clothes and shoes if I end up purging a lot (not sure how that will go). I read about the chalk in the jewelry box on another blog years ago and it has worked like a charm for me and I live very close to the water (so there’s a lot of moisture in the air, which often leads to tarnish). I hope it will work as well for you as it has for me!
Debbie, you are making great gains toward your goal of living your best life. I remember the feelings of euphoria I experienced after downsizing and the ease, calm and fun I had getting dressed each day once I arrived at my destination of less is more. Glad to see you are finding your balance.
Thank you, Terra! What’s interesting is that just recently, I started to feel ready to downsize more. I didn’t really put much pressure on myself to purge or to reach any particular number, but perhaps because I’ve been focusing on balance in general, I now feel more okay with having less. I think I’m also getting more comfortable with wearing things more often. I look forward to more ease, calm, and fun like what you mentioned!
Almost all of my jewelry has been gifted to me, so it is hard for me to let pieces go without some guilt. I “konmari’d” my entire house last year and it was a fantastic experience, but I did keep too much jewelry. I will be doing mini mari’s throughout the year! Time to go look at the jewelry box.
Lori, I also have jewelry that has been gifted to me that remind me of sweet memories, spark joy and I want to keep, but no longer wear. I’ve placed those pieces in a separate small jewelry container, tucked away. And I have another small jewelry box of the items I love most and wear on a regular basis.
Congrats on KonMari’ing your entire house, Lori! I haven’t done everything yet, but I’m feeling more and more motivated to complete the job now. I like the idea of doing “mini Mari’s.” Terra’s suggestion for the sentimental jewelry pieces is a good one. I only have a few such items, but I have them in a separate drawer of my jewelry box from the things I wear regularly. It’s nice to look at those items periodically, but they are not currently my style and may never be. I don’t see anything wrong with having a small number of keepsakes from loved ones that we hold on to. Some people also frame them so they can enjoy looking at them even though they don’t wear them.
That amethyst bracelet is so beautiful! Wish I could afford something like that.
If you live in the U.S. and have a small wrist, I would be happy to send you the bracelet, Chris. I would love for someone to have it who will really appreciate it for years like I did until recently. It was a gift to me from an ex-boyfriend back in the 90’s but I got a lot of wear out of it. Send me a private message through my “Connect” page if you would like me to send it to you.
I am absolutely floored by your kindness. :.) I will contact you.
It’s really not that big of a deal 🙂 I was going to donate all of the jewelry I purged this past week, but it’s nice to be able to give some select pieces to people who I know will really like them. A friend read this post and wants the star necklace, so that’s headed her way. Just send me your address and I will mail the bracelet to you next week.
I don’t know how crafty you are, but I would use the thick silver bracelet to make a necklace that was too short longer. I find that many necklaces I have are fine, except they are too close to my pudgy double chin. I fasten the bracelet to the ends of the necklace, it goes around my neck and isn’t seen because of my collar or hair, and the necklace frames my face in a better way.
If you have any necklaces with that flaw that have heavier chains, it might be a re-use. Otherwise I think it’s a good idea to let go of it. Someone else will like it, that inlay bracelet is nice, and your closet will be less cluttered.
That’s a brilliant idea, Ginger. I have often used necklace extenders (I purchased a set of varying lengths via Amazon) to make my necklaces longer, as I don’t like necklaces that are too short, either. I don’t think I need to save the bracelet for this reason (none of my necklaces are heavier chains anyway), but I’m sure others who read your comment will benefit from the idea. Yes, I really like the inlay bracelet, but it annoys me every time I wear it. I’m sure it will work better on someone with a bit larger wrist than mine, as it won’t move around so much on them.
Just wondering, what do you do with the items you let go of? Do you donate them or sell them or give them to someone in particular?
It’s often a mixed bag, Barbara. If I know someone who might like one of my cast-offs, I will offer to give it to them. Otherwise, I either donate them or sell them on consignment. Last year, I learned about a charity called Jewels for Hope (http://www.childrensdiabetesfoundation.org/the-guild/jewels-for-hope/) that sells jewelry to raise money for pediatric diabetes, so I’ve been sending the nicer pieces to them. I usually offer the costume items to my local consignment store and then donate whatever they don’t take to a nearby American Cancer Society Discovery Shop. I do the same with the clothing pieces that I cull from my wardrobe, although for many years I just donated everything straight away to the Discovery Shop. I wrote a post about what to do with closet cast-offs, which you and others might find interesting: https://recoveringshopaholic.com/what-to-do-with-your-closet-cast-offs/
I used to love costume jewellery but rarely wear it now and no longer buy it – I have some great pieces to choose from my stash if I want. I prefer “real” jewellery in gold and silver now. Partly I am too lazy to bother changing earrings to match my outfit like I used to so I stick to simple diamond studs which always work whether at the beach or at dinner. Also, lots of jewellery does not look right on my frame as it overwhelms me so I would never wear a big or dangly earring with a necklace – either one or the other. I have some amazing earrings in my stash I have collected over the years so I don’t need to add to this.
I always wear a stack of bracelets in gold and silver, including a silver chain bracelet my father gave me when I was 21 and a big silver bangle he gave my mother. I also wear a Pandora bracelet with charms my son has given me over the years. To these I add bracelets and bangles I bought years ago, mostly silver designer pieces.
When I wear necklaces I like to layer them and have a small collection of chains and pendants in different lengths and weights in both gold and silver.
Basically these days I really only wear the jewellery that I would want to save if my house caught fire !!!
It’s good that you have found a jewelry formula that works well for you, Carolyn. It sounds like you have a nice assortment of pieces. Having some sentimental items that we love to wear is always nice. I think that considering which pieces you’d save in a fire can be a good way to know what we really like. It’s a bit morbid, but it can be effective.