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Organizing Jewelry

If you’re a woman reading this, it’s probably true that you outgrew the musical jewelry box that held your childhood trinkets ages ago. There are a great variety of ways to organize an adult woman’s larger, more valuable collection. Here are a few of my silent, sans ballerina favorites.

As a person who had all of her jewelry stolen just as I’d started putting together a respectable little collection in my 20s, I am a great believer in safes. The type of safe I recommend is hidden, bolted to the floor or otherwise somewhat difficult to find or move. Home Depot and Staples both sell fine small safes, but for bigger collections, look into wall safes and gun safes.

Within the safe you will still want to containerize. On the reusing side, I love the lids and bottoms of boxes from good sunglasses or other luxury items. Target and other stores sell faux leather or fabric shallow containers that serve the same purpose, which is to hold bracelets, groups of earrings, or chunky necklaces. Another option is clear acrylic containers such as those from the Container Store. These containers fit neatly on the shelves of a safe or in drawers.

For earrings, I love the individual tiny plastic bags with the zip seal that are sold in pharmacies to hold doses of pills. A pair of earrings, unless they are chunky or over-size, fits perfectly into one of these little bags. They are great for travel, because you can see through them, and they are great for silver because they keep tarnishing oxygen at a minimum. They also prevent the mixed-up frenzy that can happen when a bunch of earrings are rattling around in a box.

Necklaces made with delicate chain are difficult to store in drawers or a safe. As soon as you lay a chain in a box it seems to get tangled, especially in the presence of other chains. I like to hang this type of necklace on a belt or necktie hanger in a closet — it’s not locked, but sometimes convenience wins over security (if you happen to have diamonds by the yard, go ahead and risk tangling by locking them up). The Container Store or organize.com have good selections of belt and tie hangers.

I also like creative solutions for storing chain necklaces, such as fastening them over the rungs of an old wooden ladder as a display in a bedroom. Pinterest (online) is a wonderful resource for more of these types of ideas.

If security is not a problem for you and you like to see all your jewelry, using a screen stapled to a cool picture frame is a nice way to hang earrings. Add S-hooks and you could also use this system to hang necklaces if you purchase a larger screen, like small gauge chicken wire. The guys at Orchard Supply Hardware were happy to cut and staple some chicken wire into a frame for a client and I; we got lucky because they weren’t busy that day.

For someone who makes jewelry, has an industrial aesthetic or just has a large collection, a locking tool chest makes a nice solution. Line the drawers with black velvet or Ultrasuede glued over cardboard cut to fit. Choose a model that has all shallow drawers. Deep drawers, whether in a tool chest or dresser, don’t work well for jewelry.

I hear resistance now and then to having a locking container for jewelry because of the inconvenience, but in my experience, peace of mind is a huge payoff for having to turn a key or punch in a combination.