I Got Rid of Half of My Jewelry {And it feels great!}

It's not life changing magic or KonMari, but I cleaned out my cluttered jewelry box and found hundreds of dollars of jewelry I hadn't worn in years.I don’t have expensive tastes, but I do enjoy high quality, beautiful jewelry. Over the years, I have acquired several gemstone, pearl, and amber pendants and earrings.

But you wouldn’t know it if you looked at me recently.

I have been in a jewelry rut. Most days, I don’t wear any jewelry because I don’t think of putting any on, don’t think I have any to match my clothes, or don’t have time.

Well, wouldn’t you know … Mr. Stapler got me a beautiful gemstone necklace for my birthday. It was so pretty that, when I went to put it in my jewelry box, I felt like my jewelry box was unworthy.

My jewelry box was a mess. I have a bad habit of not closing the lid, and of putting my favorite pieces within easy reach. The result is essentially a pile of nice pieces getting tarnished and dusty and tangled because they’re all on the top tray, while the pieces that I never wear are carefully preserved in the bottom drawers of the jewelry box.

In search of an appropriate place to put my new necklace, I opened the bottom drawers, which I hadn’t seen in at least a year. They were filled with necklaces and earrings that I never wear because they don’t reflect my current style or I couldn’t part with them because they were a gift or my grandmother’s old costume jewelry.

In a fit of minimalism and sadness that I had neglected some of my older — but still beloved — jewelry, I cleaned everything out and put them into piles:

  • The trash pile: Broken jewelry without any valuable components
  • The Goodwill give away pile: Plastic jewelry
  • The give to friends pile: Jewelry worth over $20 that someone might wear or use the beads — I have started emailing people who might be interested
  • The TBD pile: Broken jewelry from my grandmother. I will take them to a jeweler to find out if they are worth restoring or converting to another use.
  • The polish pile: There were a lot of tarnished pieces that I would like to wear, so they are in the queue to be polished and returned to the jewelry box.
  • The keep pile: After cleaning the dust off of the jewelry box, these items went straight back in, displayed nicely and untangled.

I wish I had a before photo for you, but this was a spur-of-the-moment, just-before-bed, mildly-ragey cleanout. It was practically over before it even started. And I swear, I haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (But I have heard all about the “KonMari method” from other people who have read the book. My favorite is this Ellen clip).

What happened?

I re-discovered jewelry I had forgotten about.

I recovered jewelry that was too dirty to wear.

I stored valuable jewelry to help preserve it better.

After placing my favorite necklaces and pendants in their own tray, I marveled at all of the beautiful pieces I have. I wear many of these all the time, but looking at them all lined up next to each other rekindled my gratitude for being able to collect beautiful, high quality pieces over the years. They reminded me of gifts my husband and mother have given me over the years and their thoughtfulness when picking them out. I glimpsed parts of my past that I was OK to leave behind (a necklace from an old boyfriend is in the Give Away pile) and times that I treasure (I kept a cheap necklace given to me by my Peace Corps host family).

Now, I don’t need as much time to find something that matches my outfit or to untangle it and put it on.

Cleaning out my 1 cubic foot of a jewelry box didn’t give me any more space in my house, but it gave me some valuable breathing space in my life and significantly updated my wardrobe — for $0!

OK, wait … not exactly free. I have to buy a polishing cloth for the tarnished jewelry. Any recommendations? 

Image by MR LIGHTMAN, via freedigitalimages.net.

3 thoughts on “I Got Rid of Half of My Jewelry {And it feels great!}

  1. So great that a spur of the moment discovery turned into such an important shift in your collection for your future… If you can make your collection full of items you’ll love AND use, all the better!

    As for a jewelry polish cloth, here’s one I’ve used with great success:


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