It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
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Organizing Jewelry

It’s always interesting to me how even I approach some organizing projects.  I’ve been working my way through our home, room-by-room, doing some rearranging and deep cleaning.  I did the bedroom quite a while ago now and pulled the jewelry boxes out and set them aside.  I left room for the 2 I knew would go back in and continued on my room journey.  When I finished with all the rooms, I went back to the jewelry.

I figured that it would take me between 1-2 hours to go through it and get it set up.  I don’t even wear much jewelry.  So, I sat down and spread the 9 jewelry boxes around me, all opened up.  And suddenly I felt overwhelmed.  Ugh, where do I start?  Bah, maybe I don’t really want to do this after all.

Yet my motivation from the outset prodded me – remember you don’t want 8 jewelry boxes, that’s too many.  Then I jumped in and I won’t mislead you, it didn’t suddenly become easy.  It was still with dread that I moved through the various pieces, struggling with feeling overwhelmed.

Depending on your situation, it can be helpful to know how you are going to arrange your jewelry.  I knew there was a minimum of 3 jewelry boxes I was keeping and each of them had a distinct purpose for me.  There are times that this isn’t possible or practical – and getting a sense of what you are keeping can lead you to deciding the best way to keep them.

Even though I know better in general, when I started I didn’t empty those 3 jewelry boxes – I tried to move the pieces around.  This rarely works – in any situation – as it’s most effective to completely empty the receptacle (whatever it is you’re working with) – and in this case, jewelry boxes.  I quickly realized my mistake and emptied all 3 of the ones I was keeping.  From there it was relatively easy to put some things in their places, as those loved pieces weren’t even being considered for donation.

Consider what sub-divisions there are with the broad category of jewelry.  These will vary from person to person.

  • Sets: necklace and earrings, bracelet and earrings, and all 3 (necklace, bracelet, and earrings)
  • Watches
  • Bracelets
  • Necklaces: independent and then pendants (that I put onto chains to wear them)
  • Rings
  • Earrings
    •    Dangly
    •    Non-dangly (or studs)

I started at the top of the list, with my sets, and looked at each of them.  Although I often ask how often is something used, I knew that most of my sets were extremely rarely worn.  This didn’t mean that I got rid of them – a couple of them are from our honeymoon in India and likewise important.  Yet, by evaluating, I found one set that I had no sentimental attachment and little appreciation for – and I simply set it aside. Then I moved on to the next subdivision and then the next.

With each grouping I would gather them together.  From there, sometimes I would grab a piece I knew I wanted to stay and move it off to the side.  Other times I would grab a piece that I knew could go away and put that into the give away pile.  Often it’s easiest to pull out our favorites and least favorites.  It’s those things that fall into that middle ground that can stymie us – uh, how do I decide about this other piece?  Those can be easier when those are the only ones left – although I leave the favorites close by so they can be seen as I evaluate the ones that bring more ambivalence.

With each group I needed to ask myself how realistic it was that I would wear it and what I was saving it for.  I have a whole group of jewelry that I couldn’t bring myself to part with – they were too sentimental while I know that I will never wear them again.  Sometimes it’s important to challenge yourself – would you be able to wear and appreciate all your jewelry?  I know I tend to re-wear my favorites, in order to fully appreciate them.

It ended up taking me about 4 hours to sort and organize my jewelry – double from my high-end expectation of 1-2 hours.  I ended up getting rid of 3 of the jewelry boxes and have limited myself to using those 3 jewelry boxes I’d already decided on keeping.  You can see from the jewelry box below with jewelry in it, what I am getting rid of.

2 empty jewelry boxes and 1 filled one

2 empty jewelry boxes and 1 filled one – all being donated

There’s no point in my saying it was easy or fun.  It wasn’t.  It feels wonderful to have done it and to be more consolidated.  The more we can break an organizing task into sections, the more successful we can be – maybe even more so when it comes to jewelry. And remember, it’s easiest to regain order by completely emptying the thing you are organizing.  Does your jewelry need to be sorted and organized?

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