Are you wondering what it even means to have a sustainable jewelry box?
Let me tell you - it doesn't only mean buying sustainable jewelry!
Don't get me wrong - buying sustainable and responsibly made and ethically made jewelry is an important way to add to your personal jewelry collection in a very conscious and mindful way. If you're like most of us though, you probably have jewelry in your collection that may not fit the bill. And that's pretty normal.
The thing is, it's not buying sustainable jewelry alone that makes for a sustainable jewelry box. It's a combination of things, and anyone can do it.
So what makes for a truly sustainable jewelry box?
You do - your mindset, outlook and habits.
Let's dive in.
Having a sustainable jewelry box does not mean being perfect and only buying sustainable jewelry and ignoring everything else. After all, we're looking for progress, not perfection. Instead, think of it more as a lifestyle inspired by your mindset. At its core, it means being conscious of what you already have.
A good rule of thumb is to get close and personal with your jewelry box. That means taking time out at the end of every season to assess what you have, what you want, what you need.
Personally, I have staples that I wear year-round, but there's always some pieces that work better with seasonal styles and sometimes it's very personal. For example, it's been so hot these last couple years that I don't like wearing necklaces in the summer. It's just a bit too sticky for my taste, so I tend to put them aside to wear in cooler months.
You may be more familiar with the practice of swapping out your clothes seasonally. Well, you can easily apply the same practice to your jewelry box.
Over the years, I've learned that swapping out your jewelry after each season is a useful practice that not only helps develop your personal style and keeps your jewelry box organized, it also gives you an opportunity to change things up and go through your jewelry box to see if something needs to be cleaned, repaired, replaced or removed.
Let's take a closer look at the process.
Step One: Cleaning Your Favorite Jewelry
Let's start by talking about cleaning your jewelry. Going through your jewelry box every season is particularly useful when it comes to the pieces you've been wearing on repeat all season. This is especially important in summer months for jewelry like necklaces and bracelets. This last summer has been pretty steamy everywhere in the world, and you've been spending a lot of time in the sun, that probably also means your jewelry has gotten pretty close and personal with sweat, water, and sunscreen.
For pieces that get a lot of wear, it's recommended that they be cleaned at least once a month. In the summer months, I'd recommend that you clean bracelets, rings and necklaces every two weeks. As earrings tend not to come in contact with sweat and sunscreen as often, I'd say once a month works just fine.
Cleaning your favorite pieces is definitely the easiest place to start. You can always take your jewelry in to a shop that offers cleaning, and of course if you're local to Berlin I'd love to help you! You can contact me here for more information. Very often this service is free!
The nice thing is that it's also something you can do on your own with simple household items. If you want to know how to clean your jewelry at home, you can find more information here.
Step Two: Repairs and Redesign
Now that your favorite jewelry is sparkling again, it's time to take a look at the pieces you haven't worn in a while because they're in need of repair.
Whether it's a hoop that has gotten misshapen over time, or maybe a necklace that has a broken link, or even a lost earring, take a closer look at what you have and decide what should be repaired.
I'll be completely honest - unless you are working with solid gold or silver, it can be really tricky to find someone who can make these repairs for you. I'm available for repairs, and it's easiest and most cost effective when it's utilized by local customers. Of course this means I'm readily available for my locals in Berlin, but I have quite a few of you still back in the States.
The good news there is that I've found a business that does just that - cost effective jewelry repairs for US customers. It's an online business, and I've recommended it to a couple customers who have been happy with their service.
The site is called Quick Jewelry Repairs. Through their site, you place your repair order online, print a shipping label, send in your jewelry, and they send it back! If you're in the States and don't have a local jeweler you prefer using, go ahead and check them out and see if they will fit your needs. They offer electroplating (gold plating), ring sizing, and chain repair, and chain repair (soldering).
Step Two and a Half: Redesign Your Favorites Pieces
Imagine this scenario - you’re showing off your favorite necklace to a friend and accidentally drop it on the ground. As you go to pick it up, a passerby bumps you you proceed to step on it. It wasn't broken after falling to the ground, but after being stepped on?
The pendant was in two pieces and the necklace was officially broken.
This actually happened to me, and I was so disappointed!
After taking a look at the damage, I was lucky to be able to save it. It broke exactly in two, and there were perfect matching halves! So, I decided to sand down the back of each piece, and rework the pendant into a pair of stud earrings.
In the end, two pieces came from one - the necklace became a pair of post earrings, and the remaining chain was used for a new custom necklace design.
Another common example of this is when you lose the pair to an earring. If it's not possible to make a new match, it often works to use the remaining earring drop as a pendant for a new necklace or as an accent on a charm bracelet.
While it takes a little bit of effort and ingenuity, redesigns are the perfect way to give your old jewelry new life.
Do you have a redesign project waiting on inspiration? I’d love to work on something with you. Get in touch and we can chat more about what you have in mind.
Step Three: How to Decide What to Remove from Your Jewelry Collection
Last but not least - is there anything that just doesn't suit you anymore?
Jewelry possesses an intrinsic value because it becomes a part of us so easily. Our jewelry holds precious memories and moments, and over time becomes a part of our story and a piece of our soul.
Just as we change over time, so does our personal style. Although we often feel attached to our jewelry, if you don't wear something at all anymore, it's worth looking at why.
It makes perfect sense not to part with those treasured family heirlooms and gifts, but what about other pieces?
Before removing something from your collection, I always recommend wearing it for a few days with your favorite outfits. Something that makes you feel sexy, comfortable and confident.
The purpose of this is to see if it still fits your style.
Does it still give you the same energy it once did?
If it does, bring it back this season.
If it doesn't?
Start a "maybe" section of your jewelry box and sit on it until your next jewelry box audit. Deciding to remove a piece of jewelry from your jewelry box should be a well thought out process, and there's no need to be hasty. Next season when you're going through your jewelry box and you come back to the "maybe” section, repeat this process and see what happens.
If the energy and connection with the piece is gone or fleeting, the next step is to decide to donate, give it away or sell it.
The Takeaway: Be Mindful of What You Have, What You Need, and What You Want
After going through this process a few times, you'll truly begin to understand when it's time to get something new, or if you're able to work with what you've got.
And never forget - the most sustainable jewelry is jewelry you already have. That doesn’t men you can never buy anything again. It simply means to be mindful of what you have, what you need, and what you want. Looking in at what you have every season really helps nail down what you love and what you don't. Over time, this approach will help you build the jewelry box of your dreams.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I’d love to know what you think. Did something really resonate with you? Or maybe you’re not convinced at all? I’m curious on what you’re thinking and would love to hear from you.
And if you have some tips and tricks of your own, share your thoughts and let me know in the comments!