With the new year, you might have already done the requisite clean out of your closet, kitchen, and junk drawer. Feels fresh, right? If you’re looking to extend that feeling a bit further, my suggestion to you is to next tackle your jewelry drawer. Don’t be afraid: I have compiled easy suggestions on how to get your collection organized and refined.
Lay out your collection and organize by type: rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets. You’ll probably notice pretty quickly if you have a weak spot for a particular style, whether it’s an over-abundance of statement earrings or a plethora of bangle options, you probably have a lot of one thing. Here, I think it’s important to analyze how much wear you get out of these pieces. If you have a lot of one type but don’t wear any of them very often, you’re probably searching for The Perfect One – and just haven’t found it. I was like this with sweaters until I started investing exclusively in sweaters that met all my requirements for a good textile. I now buy fewer, better ones and wear them on a near-daily basis because I know they’re just right. If you’re looking for The Perfect One, you might want to consider custom making it!
Analyze each group and try to think back on the last time you wore each piece. Drawing a blank? Challenge yourself to wear that piece within the next week. If you can’t get excited about wearing it, it might be time to consider either donating it or redesigning it.
Of course, an exception to this might be if you have a precious family heirloom. I say might, though, because I firmly believe that even precious jewelry should be worn regularly, within the right environment. If you find it’s just too delicate to wear safely, I highly suggest that you consider redesigning or restoring the piece so that you get more wear out of it.
Once you have your little collections winnowed down, take a look at your storage solution. If you’re a cook, you know the term mis en place – putting everything in its place – as an organizational tool when prepping for a big gourmet expedition. I believe in employing the same theory to your jewelry. Each ring, bracelet, earring, and necklace needs a home of its own, and each storage spot should allow you to clearly see every single item in your collection. This serves two purposes: 1. You will be inspired to wear your jewelry more often if you can actually see it, and 2. You’ll notice if something is missing if it isn’t in its regular place.
Personally, I don’t have a lot of space in my home to set up an elaborate display of my jewelry. So, I use these Container Store acrylic storage boxes to store my collection. I like that they’re clear, so I can easily see what’s what, and I like that the drawers pull all the way out so that I can organize things easily outside of my closet. The linen lining helps keep things from sliding around, too. These Stackers from the Container Store are another great option if you want a more traditional look. In either case, you want a storage solution that offers:
Now that you have everything you want to keep put away, it’s time to think about whether you’ll donate or redesign the items you decided not to hold on to. An easy way to sift through what’s “real” is to check whether the item has a stamp on it – usually, it will be marked 14k, 585, 18k, 750, or 900PL (platinum). Anything with these markings could be valuable in a redesign, so put it aside for later. If you can’t find any discernible markings or if it’s marked 925, 14ktGF, or 18ktGP, then it’s probably either costume material or made of a material that won’t give you much value in a redesign project. GF and GP mean Gold Fill or Gold Plated, respectively, and these items cannot be restored or reworked. They should be donated if they are in good condition.
If you find your collection is overwhelmed with costume jewelry that doesn’t Spark Joy, then I would encourage you to take 2021 as your year of upgrading into a more curated jewelry collection. Whether that means finally undertaking that custom idea you’ve had floating in your head or taking the plunge on a gorgeous ring you’ve been eyeing for months, my gentle suggestion is to buy carefully, slowly, and discriminately. Happy organizing!
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.