Declutter Your Jewelry Box

Let’s face it—we all have clutter in our jewelry boxes: broken chains, gifts from old flames, grandma’s wedding ring, an uncle’s old watch. Jewelry, however, can be especially difficult to purge. Unlike most clutter, gold and gemstones have intrinsic value—tossing them in the trash is like throwing money away.

Good news: the price of gold is near its all-time high, and jewelers everywhere are buying it from people like you and me. (It may seem contradictory that jewelers would want to buy gold at such a high price, but they make a profit by selling it to a refiner.)

Here’s how it works: clean out your jewelry box of all the bits and bobs you no longer want. Take the pile down to your local jeweler. The jeweler will separate out the gold from the costume (not gold) pieces. You can facilitate this process by looking for 10K, 14K or 18K stamps on your items; in the absence of such markings, the jeweler will use acid, or an electronic tester, to determine the gold content. The jeweler will then weigh your pieces on a scale, and use a multiplier to calculate the gold (“scrap”) value in dollars.

It’s a great way to get rid of (and get cash for!) broken, common, or unattractive jewelry that has little antique value or artistic merit. Finer pieces, or those with quality diamonds and gemstones, will command a higher price than this “scrap” value, and should be taken to an estate jeweler for evaluation.

And if you don’t need the cash, consider gifting sentimental pieces to someone in the family; Uncle Ed’s pocket watch may not be your cup of tea, but it might be a treasure for a nephew or grandson!

20 comments to Declutter Your Jewelry Box

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  • Tradd

    I don’t even *have* a jewelry box! My every day jewelry consists of a gold necklace with two gold pendants that is only rarely taken off. I have a pair of very good costume jewelry hoops I’ve had since I was a freshman in high school (25 years!). I have a pair of Russian Easter egg earrings and matching pendant I wear often in the spring. That’s it!

  • Hmm. . .people have stopped giving me jewelry because I don’t wear it (except my wedding ring). I have a few pieces. . .I wonder if it might not be a better deal to resell the jewelry someplace (like e-bay) than as scrap?

    • miss minimalist

      Sure, Simple in France, I think pieces that are unique, signed, or have gemstones would command a higher price on ebay. However, I’m not sure you’d get much more than scrap for common gold jewelry (like chains or plain wedding bands).

  • Mia

    I don’t have a lot of jewelry either, just my wedding ring and a pair of pearl earrings. The rest (presents, heirlooms) I’ve given to family.

  • I confess to having jewelry which is odd because until a few years ago I didn’t wear much. Even now, I mostly wear two or three simple necklaces (sterling silver is my choice). My jewelry tends to be earrings because I make them myself. After reading this post yesterday, though, I went to my jewelry box and decluttered it a bit. My friend’s mom loves turquoise, was wearing some today, so I offered to give her my grandma’s turquoise pieces. One thing I’ve learned (again) from becomingminimalist is to make a habit of giving things away.

    • miss minimalist

      Willow, giving things away is a wonderful habit! It really seems to take people by surprise, though; I don’t think they realize how much we minimalists enjoy giving. :-)

  • As part of my “downsizing” process some years ago I made a decision not to wear jewellry and sold the few pieces I have. I have since bought one silver pendant which dresses things up occasionally but apart from that I hardly even bother to wear my watch nowadays. I do find it very liberating. Less to own, less to bother about, no worries about it being stolen, lost etc., etc. For me it is part of what minimalism is all about – freeing onself from unnecessary possesions. I also do read various horror stories about how gold is produced nowadays and that puts me off as well. So I suppose I regard it, in part, as an ethical decision as well. I sound a bit “holier than thou” don’t I?! I dont mean to…!

  • nicole 86

    Well, tough subject for me.
    I love looking at jewels whenever I am in city streets, I always notice collegues’ jewels. Yet, I have only got a few gold jewels, some I like, others are presents. As I always wear the same items, I asked a jeweller about selling the others or have them included in a new piece, that meant spending quite a lot and I wondered whether it was worth the trouble. Help welcomed.

    • miss minimalist

      Hi nicole 86! If you have pieces you don’t wear (or like), perhaps you can sell them and use the proceeds to buy one special jewel.

  • Kate

    What inspiration! I have a drawer and wall full of jewelry I never wear, mostly handed down from my clutter-bug mom :) I came online to find jewellry storage solutions but then got thinking – do I even WANT to store this stuff? and found your site. OH, to live in simplicity….really, you guys are inspiration to me. Thank you.

  • JessDR

    I think passing jewelry on to someone who will treasure it is the best option, but if you absolutely can’t let it go, another option is to have a jeweler remake it. My mother-in-law has done this with some of her mom’s jewelry: she can’t wear rings because of her arthritis, so she had them remade into pendants and brooches. He also consolidated some pieces for her: turning a set into one larger necklace.

    Obviously, you need a good jeweler for this – look for someone who designs their own pieces, and whose designs you like. It’s not cheap, but that’s not exactly a bad thing – the expense will encourage you to keep only the things you really treasure.

  • Candy

    I had a gold ring 14 kt with small diamond , 3 small gold charms 14kt ( from the 70’s) 2 gold pendants 14kt , broken piece of a chain 14kt, my baby ring 10kt, and few pieces of silver , pendant,ring, and bracelet(never worn). All pieces have been sitting in a box in my closet from years. I just sold for $873.43 to Gold Fellows. I think the amount was more than fair. The money is going to be used to purchase ipads for my kids. I love this site and I have been on a roll to donate, recycle , toss or sell (on ebay) everything I do not use or need any longer. Thank you!

  • Tina

    I collect jewelry. It’s the only thing I do collect. I have earrings by one designer that I collected at rummage sales and then bought one more pair on eBay. My mother in law gave me a few pieces of costume jewelry and so did a friend. All my “real” jewelry was bought second hand. For me, it’s also the thrill of the hunt. And jewelry just takes up one shelf of a bookcase.

  • Tina

    I gave my sister all my Mom’s diamonds because I would never wear them. I kept a bracelet and a pin in gold. I have been giving away the costume jewelry I don’t wear. I collect earrings and real Native American jewelry. There are designs for each season and various colors,too.
    But there is more to thin out. I’ve been collecting jewelry for about 50 years.

  • My SIL has Alzheimer’s. Before she got sick, she hid all her good jewelry. I found it while cleaning my brother’s closets. He said it was worth over $10K. Then I went through the rest of her jewelry and sorted it by gold, silver and karat — I asked my brother if I could have some costume jewelry because I didn’t think either her sisters or her daughter or DIL would want the items I chose. I like colorful, inexpensive jewelry because most of my clothes are neutrals.

  • Tina

    My husband’s cousin had serious surgery. I asked what we could bring as a gift. She would like some of the earrings from my collection. That is a great idea. I wear the same earrings over and over and there are some I rarely wear. Neither of my DIL’s or my daughter likes these.

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