Jewelry: How to Create A Minimalist Collection

Didn't you just wear that necklace yesterday? Said no one to me. Ever.

Just the other day I alluded to my jewelry collection being out of control. This might sound crazy to you, but jewelry seems to multiply when I’m not looking.

I used to use a jewelry box to store my collection but failed to keep things in order since I could shut the lid and let the tangled items wait until I needed them (ie postponing stress for a later date.) When we lived a mobile lifestyle overseas (see which jewelry I take when I travel), I found it exhilarating to keep only my favorite jewelry pieces on hand in a small velvet pouch.  Now I have a jewelry tree to hang my necklaces and bracelets on and a ceramic dish for tossing earrings inside.

Just like with our clothing, the 80/20 rule applies to jewelry. We wear 20% of the jewelry we own 80% of the time. Take time to determine which of those pieces are in your top 20%.

—> Got your remaining 80% out and ready? Apply the following questions to this group of items so you know what to do with them. When you’re done, you’ll have a minimal jewelry collection to save you time each day.

Your Goal: Don’t keep the pieces in your 80% unless they meet one of the criteria below.

1) Are they Grandmother’s diamonds? No question! Keep it. (Grandma’s broken costume jewelry, on the other hand, can go.)

2) Save 1 or 2 special occasion sets from this 80% (earrings, necklaces, and/or bracelets) for formal events or funerals. You don’t need more than these. Really.

3) Set aside those pieces you estimate you’ve not used for 6 months or more. I encourage you to toss, donate, or sell them via local consignment or online. (If you aren’t ready to do so, store it out of sight and put a reminder on your phone to revisit the decision in 6 months.  If you’ve not worn it at that time, get rid of it. I don’t suggest this long-term approach for many items, but jewelry is small enough and can carry high emotional value, so it might help you in this case.)

4) Does the jewelry need repair? If you’re willing to invest money in it, get the repair done ASAP. Otherwise, it’s merely clutter you can toss.

5) Keep 1 or 2 nice (ie “won’t tarnish”) pairs of hoop earrings or small posts, like pearls. (Don’t have any? Add this to your minimalist gift list of things you will truly use. I didn’t have any and asked for some last Mother’s Day. Chris really wow’ed me! I wear my Coach hoops a lot and they are of great quality.)

6) Leave room in your collection for a handful of seasonal items. Keep a few of those you have or pass them along to be replaced. I typically use some of my monthly blow money to buy 1 or 2 bracelets or necklaces each season that are fun and add color to my existing minimalist closet’s wardrobe. They cost less than most clothing items which – when mixed and matched – look like a whole new outfit with a colorful piece of jewelry as its accent.

Your newfound tidy – and tiny! – jewelry collection will bring a sense of calm to your morning routine. Nice work!

Dana Byers and her family are passionate about adoption and online ministry, and they sold all they owned in 2007 to live a mobile lifestyle overseas and expand online ministry practices globally.  She’s the author of “The Art of Online Ministry” and recently moved to Oklahoma to become the Community Pastor for Church Online. All opinions shared here are expressly her own.


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