Minimalism & Jewelry

Have you ever spent a significant amount of time untangling and cleaning your jewelry? In the past I’ve done so probably three to four times a year. What a frustrating way of wasting your time, right!? Especially when you’re putting all the effort into cherishing the items you won’t see again until the next time you spend maintaining them. There are better ways for dealing with this: Minimalism. Still, it can be hard to just get rid of it. You can’t just pretend it’s worth nothing. If you feel that way and if you’re open to input, here is what my personal approach looked like that led to the peace I have today.

Step 1: Find your perfect number

5645bfe3deca437fb8f5abbb54c98395Contrary to other capsule projects, I won’t give you a set number of jewelry you are allowed to keep. Finding the  right amount of jewelry is too personal. The one with pierced ears wishes to keep more than those without. That’s why I challenge you to find your perfect number. If you doubt between two numbers, choose the smaller one to challenge yourself or the bigger one to ease into this project. You can always change it at any moment if you wish. In the near future, you will reach that point where you can go without limiting yourself to a number.

Step 1: Purpose check

Let’s start decluttering your jewelry box in order to reach your perfect number of jewelry. As you probably know, Minimalists keep what they value. In other words, they hold onto items only if it serves a purpose or brings joy. That can be difficult to figure out in several cases, but for jewelry it’s not. The only purpose jewelry has, is to enjoy it by wearing it. So, we need to know what we wear first. Separate the jewelry you have worn the past month from the items you haven’t. Don’t take into account what you think of the item. Be brutally honest with yourself. In order to make this a successful project, it’s very important that you don’t lie to yourself. There are no consequences in doing this, just yet. We’re not throwing out all of the unworn right away. Just left-overs for now. Promised!

Step 2: Question your keepers

Now it is time to pay attention to the pile of jewelry you did wear. Are you happy with what you have in front of you? Hopefully, you are. If not: ask yourself why. Maybe it’s worn out or broken. Maybe it’s not your style after all. If so, put the times you don’t really value anymore to left-over pile.

Step 3: Put your jewelry in order

If you still have more items left in your worn-pile than your perfect number allows you to, put the jewelry in order from most to least favorite. Pick the amount of jewelry you’ve allowed yourself to keep in your right order and put the rest in the left-over pile.

Step 4: Categorize the left overs

Now, we get to your left over pile. Check what category fits for a certain item. If a jewelry falls in more than one category, check them all. If it doesn’t fall within any category, be real. Why on earth did you hold on to it!?

  • Broken

Did you stop wearing it because it’s broken? Fix it and wear it again. Make it a priority. When you’re not doing that, it clearly wasn’t that important to you and it’s time to get rid of it. If you can’t get it fixed, it’s also time to say good-bye. There is absolutely benefit in holding onto things that are unfixable. Don’t worry and remember, that the only thing constant is the fact that nothing is forever.

  • Heirlooms

I have the feeling that jewelry is one of the most inherited things out there. That makes jewelry extra difficult to get rid of even if you don’t have a particular positive attachment to it. So why is that? This is probably because of guilt. You were gifted this beauty by a loved one that is not with you anymore and getting rid of feels heartless. Admittedly, throwing it in the dumpster is a little harsh. Fortunately, there are several ways to honor that inheritance without dragging it around the rest of your life.

Give them away: Maybe someone who is also related to that person would love to cherish it all day long. If it has historical value, a museum would probably love to hold on to it, too.


Make something new: There are goldsmiths out there who specialize in giving jewelry a make-over. That way you may wear it. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the size. Sometimes it’s more difficult. Remember that when the material and the concept is already there, you only pay for the labor. My talented niece is a goldsmith who made the necklace you see in the picture on the left. It is made out of my parent’s wedding rings. Except of the size and the position of the diamond, we kept the rings as original as possible including the engravings: My parent’s nick names. The rings are also the fasterner showing off some  great craftmanship. A one of a kind from family, for family, to family, by family. It now is a piece of jewelry I wear daily with great joy.

  • Sentimental value

Any sentimental item is a hard nut to crack. It deserve its own post, honestly. For the time being, this will do.

I do think it’s nicer to wear a sentimental jewelry instead of one without any value. You cherish them more. Just like sociology professor Juliet Schor articulated in the Minimalism documentary that our society is drowning in needless possessions and consumer debt not because we’re too materialistic, but because we’re not materialistic enough, at least in the true sense.

Vice versa, I think it’s worse keeping sentimental jewelry lying around triggering emotions whenever they feel like, than having worthless things around the house that are at tops somewhat annoying because of the dust collection. That is in particular bad when triggered emotions are negative. You then need to remember that your emotions are not in these things. It’s only worth what you believe it is worth. You can decide today that it is worth something else. Or better: Decide that it’s worth nothing at all and get rid of it. Do it ceremonial if necessary. There is a reason why African cultures wash gifted jewelry. Just wash of whatever is attachd to it and see it for what it really is.

If you have issues dealing with sentimental items in general, check out the Miracles a Day.

  • Monetary value

If you kept jewelry because of the monetary value, sell it today. It all has value when the material has value like gold, silver, diamonds and gemstones. It also has value when it’s a particular brand like Swarovski or Buddah to Buddah. Use the money for something you actually want. You could buy a new jewelry you would wear often for example. Pay off debt if you have some. Completely happy already? Donate the money to a charity. If it’s also an heirloom, donate the money in memoriam to your loved one’s. Check if it has historical value first so that you are aware of the increasd value. Maybe, then, a museum would buy them for a great price.

Go to a jeweler or, when the value is based on the brand, offer them on a second-hand designer page like Poshmark. Remember, though, that it will probably be worth way less than you expected. Jewelers only care for the materials and that is what you get paid for.  Second hand shoppers look out for deals that are almost insulting. But, hey, if it’s not worth much, then why keep it for that reason, right?

Disclaimer: Fine pieces, especially those with diamonds in mint condition should be taken to an estate jeweler. Those do see value in the design. But remember, these are the exception to the rule.

  • Fashion jewelry

How come that things who get out of fashion, start to look ugly? Trends come and go and we are prone to it. Stop following trends and stick to the classics. Fashionable items go out of style for a reason. Get rid of fashion jewelry. Now. It’s worth nothing and it never will. It’s shiny trash that ruin the environment. All value you’ve put into that item is probably a projection of the worth we give valuable jewelry in general. But jewelry does not equal value by definition. Stop crying over the money it has cost you #stupidtax #sunkcosts. No, it will not be back in style fast enough to justify the hording. Let goodwill deal with that. They do it with pleasure.

The realization of how idiotic it is to hold on to fashionable jewelry, hopefully helps you to stop accumulation custom jewelry in the first place.

  • Forgotten items

woven-jewelry-holder-02Did you stop wearing a piece because you simply forgot about it? Sometimes it’s a sign that you have too much of something or you value that piece too little. But it could also just mean that you forgot because you’ve put it in a box. Out of sight, out of mind. If you have that problem, get rid of your jewelry box and display all your treasures, including the forgotten ones. Just for a while to see if you do start wearing them again. If not, it’s time to go.

By the way, displaying your jewelry tastefully has the extra benefit of giving your home a personal touch without filling it with useless decoration. No idea what to do with your grandma’s china exept tossing it? Re-purpose some of those plates and cups to hold your jewelry. Especially hanging necklaces is extra beneficial since you never ever have to untangle them again.

Step 6: Box it up

Is it too difficult to sell, donate, toss or trash the items you want to get rid of? Put them in a box and leave it there for several months. After the deadline, take out the items you truly missed and start wearing them! I bet it’s nothing in there to be remembered by you.

If you don’t have that problem: Congrats, badass! You know how it’s done.


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