Jewelry Wardrobe Clean-Out Guide
We all know how important yearly wardrobe clean-outs are, but what about the pile of tangled necklaces in your jewelry box that you haven’t touched in months? Or those quirky earrings you bought for that one costume party and haven’t worn since? A jewelry wardrobe cleanse can do wonders for your well-being and help you stay grounded - style identity evolves over time and jewelry adds the final touches after all. Below are some steps and tips we gathered to help de-clutter so you can continue to feel inspired by your jewel box.
1. Take Inventory
Take and lay out ALL of your jewelry. Don’t forget the ones in your catchall dishes around the house or apartment! It’s helpful to lay all the pieces on a solid color background, such as a bedsheet or your kitchen table. Take off any earring backs from earrings to sort them in their own category. We recommend taking inventory in a well-lit room so that you not only catch important information such as rusted or broken bits, but can see what your jewelry appears like to other people when it’s on you!
Start by going through each item and thinking about what it is that makes you want to keep it. It’s easier to focus on the absolute yes’s and the absolute no’s – save your energy on the maybe’s by putting them to the side and coming back to them after.
Having a yes and no pile also informs you on your maybe pile. Think of owning jewelry like curating a personal art collection and what you want it to represent for you. Do you attend a lot of events, so having a little bit of everything serves you well? Or are you a capsule wardrobe kind of curator, and know what kind of jewelry you covet and will wear across all seasons and situations? Grab a piece from your maybe pile and compare it to the yes or no pile. Does this maybe jewelry add something to the yes pile? Does it have something that reminds you of the no pile? How consistent do you want to be about your jewelry values? Are certain details going to be a hard no for you moving forward, or will you make exceptions?
Tip 1: If you have a million little earring backs, these are worth sorting too (especially since they sit so close to your skin). Place the backs in a single file line. Put into the “no” pile any discolored or misshapen pieces, or pieces without a matching friend. In our experience, once you lose an earring back, it’s gone forever. Try your luck on any backs that have turned green with an old toothbrush and some soapy water. If the green is really hard to scrub off or if it’s embedded into corners, we suggest tossing that into the no pile.
Tip 2: Just like cleaning earring backs, an old toothbrush and soapy water can do wonders for jewelry with pave crystals or sequins. Scrub gently, just make sure to dry the piece after with a soft clean cloth (not a towel, because the fibers can snag and pull out crystals!) and let it completely air dry before you put it into jewelry boxes or bags.
If you’re still having some trouble deciding on the maybe pieces, we made a straightforward chart to help you below. Take note that our chart emphasizes purpose. Essentially, you want to keep pieces that will continue serving a priority in your jewelry collection, even if they’re just seasonal statements or if they hold sentimental value.
3. Sort It Out
Sort out the “no pile” of jewelry to pieces you want to donate, re-sell (if it’s worth anything), or throw away.
Donate inexpensive pieces still wearable and in good condition. Below is a short list of places where you can take your jewelry:
Your local thrift store or charity shop is an easy go-to for donations. Popular places such as Savers or Big Brother Big Sister supports nonprofits from your donations and may offer pick up.
Dress For Success has many local affiliates where you can donate jewelry and clothes. This non-profit focuses on empowering women by providing professional attire and development tools necessary for economic independence.
The online non-profit, I Have Wings Breast Cancer Foundation accepts costume jewelry by mail to help fund a mission (research, education, speaker opportunities) in Nicaragua. They take the time to repair and clean older jewelry so you can send slightly broken pieces too.
Re-sell finer jewelry or brand name and designer pieces in good condition
Tip 1: Solid gold jewelry or even gold filled jewelry with gemstones may be re-sold at a local jewelry consignment shop for the best deals.
Tip 2: Show resellers that you take care of your jewelry by putting the pieces into individual plastic bags. For earrings, it’s best to bag them apart to avoid scratching. To get the most of your jewelry’s value, think of where and when you bought your piece and the materials it’s made of and write these details on a label on the bag. Include any certifications if you have them.
Throw out heavily tarnished and inexpensive pieces that are broken and unfixable. Costume jewelry from retail stores, flash plated jewelry, and gold-plated jewelry that has faded completely included. We understand that throwing out metal is a daunting concept, especially if you’re not entirely sure what your jewelry is made of. If you have the time and resources, taking your unwanted jewelry to a metal recycler or metal foundry can ease the environmental impact of your pieces. We’re ironing out details of a jewelry recycling program where we provide shipping labels to have old jewelry pieces sent to us. We then sort the metals and take the pieces to respective metal recyclers. So, if you don't feel like tossing our your jewelry and can bear the wait, bag up your old pieces and wait for an announcement from us!
4. Enjoy and Maintain
Now that you treasure everything and know what exactly is in your jewelry wardrobe, maintain your collection by being mindful of what you decide to add to it. Set some low-buy rules or practice a regular clean-out routine to make sure you get to wear and see your favorite pieces every day.