Even the most organized among us often overlook one area when we sort, purge and clean out our homes and that is the jewelry box. They’re very handy for keeping the best pieces safe and protected from the elements, as well as keeping them in one place inside that box. Or, um, boxes/hooks/shelves which may be the case for those of you who share my love for statement jewelry. The truth is that your jewelry should be gone through at least once a year to check for loose stones, tarnish and other repairs or attention needed. This also provides a great chance to change the way you store and display pieces if you feel you haven’t been wearing everything and even getting rid of the pieces that you no longer want.
First We Gather
The first step is to get all of your jewelry together. This may require more effort for those of you who like to scatter their jewels around like decor, but it’s the most important step. Don’t forget to check your bedside table, the living room and your purse for pieces you’ve taken off and never put away. If you have stored away special or sentimental pieces, bring those out too. Now find a large, clean surface and spread it all out. Take a second to admire your pretty baubles, you have spent a great deal of time and money carefully choosing your jewelry, enjoy looking at it all together!
Next We JudgeThe Repair Pile
Let’s take a better look at that repair pile. We need to objectively decide what needs to be done and if it’s worth it. The first question to ask yourself is if it’s something you can DIY. You can safely clean most jewelry yourself as long as you make sure to use the correct method for what you are cleaning. If it is fine jewelry that includes precious stones (like diamonds, rubies, emeralds) and gold, sterling or platinum (not plated) you can use the little jars of jewelry cleaning liquid or other “jewelry polishes”. Never, ever use these on pearls or other porous stones or anything plated. If in doubt, don’t use them. A soft lint-free cloth (think microfiber towel, an old t-shirt) is safe for everything and is a good idea to use wipe down all your jewelry regularly, ideally when you take it off to put it away. Fun fact: the best way to clean and maintain pearls is to wear them, the oils in your skin keep them from drying out! If you have a knot in a chain, you can most likely do that yourself or ask a nimble-fingered friend for help. If an earring back is missing, you can buy some extras from a craft store or order them online.
Now for the pieces that you cannot fix yourself. There are actually two piles to be made here. In the first pile go the things you will have to pay a jeweler to fix. Find a local jeweler who will fix your broken pieces and get a quote – it is important to decide what your willing to spend the money to fix before this. If it is of value or sentimental and you used to wear it all the time, absolutely spend the money. If it is a pucca shell necklace from Claire’s that you bought in 1996, I gently suggest that you put it aside and we’ll figure out a solution later. In the second pile are the pieces that you do not want to spend money on because either you no longer wear it or it’s not worth the investment.
The pile for the jeweler should be pretty easy to figure out what needs to be done. Loose or missing stones, pronged setting to be checked, broken clasps or chains; these are all things that a jeweler will be able to fix for you. Just make sure you actually remember to bring it to them and not let the pile sit on the table for months.
The Pile of Jewelry That Does Not Fit You
As the pieces in this pile do not fit you, it may be a bit harder to decide if they are worth paying someone to fix as you may have never been able to wear them. Again, you may consider that if it is a piece of fine jewelry that you really wish you were wearing, that’s a strong indication that you should go for it. If you look at it and cannot picture yourself in it, then either pay to have it made into something else (this is typically rather pricey but worth it on some instances) such as turning diamond earrings into a ring or your old engagement ring into a pendant or something.
If you decided that you do not want to pay to alter things you can always pick up some jewelry supplies and have a crafty afternoon. If you have no interest in this than they should go into the purge pile.
The Purge Pile
You are now looking at a pile of jewelry that you no longer wear. This most likely is a pretty big pile. Tackle the easiest first and remove anything worn out or broken and not fine jewelry or of any value. That should just be thrown out (really). Now remove anything that is at all sentimental that you get all emotional over thinking about it going away (but that you never wear). Either pass it down in your family to someone who will wear it, or pack it up and store it. I want to note that jewelry tends to be wildly sentimental and often handed down and is also pretty small. So I find no issue in tucking away your grandmother’s ring that you’ll never wear just to have it somewhere. You can also display sentimental jewelry that you don’t wear in your house, or have it remade into something else. Next, take a look at the pieces that have value and you have not worn for a while. Perhaps you went through a phase of wearing an armload of fine silver bracelets that were collected for years, but are not feeling them right now. Or you have vintage pieces that you collected but are not really in right now. You have a few options. Either pack them away for later, display them, pass them on or sell them. Now take the jewelry that you don’t wear that is not of much value. The costume jewelry, trendy pieces in good condition, that pucca shell necklace that you’ve decided to part with etc. This is most likely best donated to either a child’s dress-up box, goodwill or if work appropriate, to a dress for success type organization.
You should have left the fine jewelry, broken fine jewelry and quality vintage jewelry that you never wear. You can either pass it down, sell it or donate it. If you sell it, you can look into a few options such as eBay, consigning at a high-end designer consignment store or jewelry store or selling for metal and stone weights at a local place or there are a lot of options to do this online too. If you have broken jewelry or old settings that you kept after having something reset, you can sell these things for weight too. Note that fine jewelry without a brand name like Cartier or Tiffany’s depreciate a crazy amount, so really consider if you want to go this route as you will get a fraction for what was paid for it. If you have really high-end jewelry that is from designers like Harry Winston, Bulgari, Tiffany’s, Cartier etc, you can contact them to inquire about resale options, they will sometimes buy back pieces, especially if rare. If you have designer jewelry that you never wear and more than a handful of pieces, look into an auction house like Sotheby’s to see if they have a jewelry auction coming up.
Now We Organize
You did it, you cleaned out your jewelry, repaired and cleaned it. You even purged, stored and sold everything you no longer wear. Good job, you should be proud of yourself! Now what? Now we organize! In order to do this, you’ll need some type of storage. One of the reasons we laid out all of your jewelry to do this is that after you cleaned and repaired everything, you can take a look at everything together and make sure you choose a storage system that holds it all and works for you. There are thousands of options. Check out Pinterest or google to find inspiration. You can buy storage options or make them. You can get something huge that fits everything or use multiple items. You can hang jewelry, put it in boxes or use little dishes. It’s up to you, your preferences and your style. Just remember to store all necklaces and bracelets clasped, as an unclasped chain is sure to knot and the best way to prevent knots is to not leave a chain open.
You also want to keep in mind that air promotes tarnish. Dust makes your jewelry have that weird sticky feeling and overexposure to sunlight and water will harm most jewelry. So I do recommend that if possible, you keep everything dry and out of direct sunlight. Covered is ideal, in a box or behind a door (glass and mirrored options are great if you use a method that hangs on the wall). If you wear the same pieces every day and put them in a dish on your bedside table every night, that is not an issue as you’re wearing the jewelry will keep it from tarnishing. It should still be wiped down every so often though. Some boxes that jewelry comes in (like those from Manic Trout) include tarnish resisting cotton, so storing jewelry in boxes in a drawer is also an option. But keep in mind that most people need to see all of their jewelry selecting what to wear, so having everything tucked away may make you forget you have certain pieces if you’re one of those people. If after a few months you realize that the storage you decided on is not working, change it!
Whatever method you choose, make sure you add a jewelry clean out once a year to keep your jewelry in the best condition and that you wear it!