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Untangle the Bangles: Organizing Jewelry

Tangled bangles—what’s a girl to do?! If you’re tired of unraveling chains or digging for a matching pair of earrings, try some of these great organizing tips.
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Tangled bangles—what’s a girl to do?! If you’re tired of unraveling chains or digging for a matching pair of earrings, try some of these great organizing tips.

Remember the 80/20 Rule

Consider the amount of jewelry you own as opposed to how much you actually wear; the 80/20 principle definitely applies. Because you likely wear only 20% of the jewelry you own, pare down! You will save yourself time, energy and frustration if you don’t have to search through mounds of unused jewelry to get to your most-often worn pieces.

Store in Separate Categories

To keep your most-used jewelry accessible, store it separately from your special occasion, costume and heirloom pieces. For example, any jewelry used for dress-ups or Halloween can be stored with costumes, and special occasion and heirloom pieces are best stored in separate containers to insure their safety.

Determine Your Best Storage Option

The type, quantity, and style of your jewelry will help you determine your best storage options. The classic jewelry box may be just the ticket if you have several bracelets, rings and brooches, but it may not be the best storage option for long strands of beads and necklaces. Consider using one or a combination of the following options:

Jewelry armoire—Jewelry armoires come in both standing and wall-mounted styles and are for the serious accessorizer. Most styles come with either drawers or hooks for necklaces and bracelets as well as specialized ring storage. Here is a fantastic sample of a wall-mounted style.

Jewelry stand—Jewelry stands are ideal for necklaces and bracelets as well as if you have relatively few pieces of often-used jewelry. A jewelry stand can also be a decorative alternative to hooks. For samples of ready-made jewelry stands, visit Pottery Barn, here and here.

You can also fashion your own jewelry stand for under $10. Create a “T” with 1” diameter wooden dowels cut to 12” lengths. Attach the T to a sturdy base (like a block of wood or even an unfinished wood plaque or picture frame) and either paint the stand or cover it with fabric and embellish according to your décor and tastes. This homemade jewelry stand also makes a great birthday party craft or gift for pre-teen and teenage girls.

Hooks—Hooks are an affordable and functional alternative for necklace and bracelet storage. Jewelers recommend always hanging necklaces, particularly those with delicate chains, from hooks or stands so they don’t tangle and break. You can also use decorative knobs for the same effect.

Tea cups—Tea cups are a new, creative and stylish trend in jewelry storage. You can store thicker chains, strands of beads, bracelets, pins, brooches and rings inside the cups and hang dangly earrings from the rims. For a sample of this storage option, visit

Tie rack—A men’s tie rack is a functional and affordable storage option for heavier necklaces and bracelets. A tie rack is also a great alternative for seldom-worn necklaces and bracelets because it can hold a large number of pieces and can be stored in the low-use area of a closet.

Magnet board—Magnet boards are another easy-to-find, affordable storage option. By using magnetic hooks or hooks you fashion yourself, you can create a flexible storage configuration that will accommodate your needs.

Cork board—Cork board is a good option for post earrings. You can either hang a piece of cork in your desired dimensions on a magnet board, the wall or in a drawer. Cork also serves as a great background for push pins on which you can hang bracelets and necklaces.

Plastic canvas—Plastic canvas (the kind used for Kleenex holders and other crafts) is a great, unbelievably inexpensive option for post and hook earrings. You can either hang a piece in an inconspicuous place if you want to use it unadorned, or you can dress it up a little if you want to store it in a more visible location.

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Scrapbooking embellishments containers—Scrapbooking sections of the craft store have containers with individual compartments that are perfect for smaller earrings. These containers are also great for transporting jewelry when you travel.

Valet tray—Valet trays come in a variety of finishes ranging from leather to wood and generally provide compartments for cuff links, watches and necklaces. You can also store non-jewelry items like a phone, wallet and spare change along side your jewelry.

Desk organizer—The desk organizer is ubiquitous, inexpensive and functional. If you prefer to store your jewelry in a drawer, a plastic drawer organizer is one of your best options.

Decide Where to Store

When you are deciding where to store your jewelry, consider:

-Humidity (e.g. silver will tarnish in a humid bathroom).

-Value (your 1-carat diamond earrings are better kept somewhere other than in plain view on the dresser).

-Clutter (jewelry can easily look messy, so you may want to store it out of sight).

Store and Repurpose Heirloom and Fine Jewelry

Give special consideration to your most valuable pieces. Whether their value is monetary or sentimental, these items should be stored in secure containers, like locked boxes or safes, out of the main flow of your home.

If you want to repurpose heirloom or vintage pieces, you can use them as display pieces rather than as wearables or create new pieces yourself. If you want a professional touch, you can visit Voleur de Bijoux at or search “repurposed jewelry” in your search engine for other artisans who create original pieces from heirloom and vintage jewelry.

Sell or Swap

If you no longer wear certain jewelry pieces and are interested in selling them, you can have your jewelry appraised as a wearable piece or as scrap. Even though there are an abundance of “turn gold into cash” outfits these days, not all of them are created equal, and you can lose up to 75% of the retail value of your jewelry by turning it into scrap. This article has some guidelines to help you get the most for your unwanted or unused jewelry.

If you prefer to give away or throw away, and if you and a few friends are ready for a jewelry purge and update, a jewelry swap may be just the ticket. Before you send your unwanted items off to Good Will, the trash heap or the costume closet, you can get together and give each other first dibs on each other’s treasures!

Happy organizing!




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