Do you have a jewelry organization scheme that works?
February 18, 2015 6:13 AM   Subscribe

I have a relatively small (but growing) collection of jewelry that's currently being stored haphazardly across a range of hooks, pouches, boxes and drawers. Various big plans (set out all the necklaces nicely in this place here) have fallen by the wayside in the hustle-and-bustle of working life. If you're a naturally untidy/ absentminded person, have you found a storage system that keeps your jewelry safe, accessible and in good condition, but that's easy and low-maintenance enough to keep in practice?

There are obviously scads of jewelry organization products out there; but I'm constitutionally susceptible to implementing grand organization schemes that I then can't actually keep up in day-to-day life, so I thought I'd search for one with a proven track record, particularly among people like myself who struggle with organization.

Some criteria:
-- Number of steps is a big issue with me: it sounds silly, but if I have to take down a box AND open a pouch to put away necklaces, then what actually happens is that they end up accumulating in a big heap on the dresser. I think I could just about manage to open a single (smooth) drawer or put something on a hook (and possibly drop things into a pouch if it was very easy-to-open and extremely visible); but any kind of mildly fiddly or cumbersome filing practice is a no-go.

--My jewelry is of varying sizes and levels of durability (chunky beads, tiny little chains), so it'd be great to have a system that accommodates pieces on both ends of the spectrum. I have lots of necklaces, earrings and bracelets, but relatively few rings.

--I've got quite a few sterling pieces, so a system that's compatible with those little anti-tarnish strips would be especially lovely.

Messy MeFites, can you recommend a system (either a product or a practice, or both) that's worked for you? Thanks so much!
posted by Bardolph to Home & Garden (35 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
A jewelry armoire. Many small drawers for bits and bobs and two side doors with hooks to hang necklaces.

Yes it's another piece of furniture in the house, but it's really the only nice and comprehensive landing station for this kind of thing I've ever used. It also enables you to keep your other surfaces free of the clutter so the extra piece of furniture in the room doesnt look as "big". Look for them on sale around mother's day.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:18 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

The only two methods that have worked for me are

1. Machinists chest - this is big but it's basically felt lined drawers with a top part that you can put larger stuff in. Drawers can be subdivided for smaller stuff like earrings. Upside: you can put a mirror in the top and keep the top flipped open so you can see stuff. Other upside: impervious to dust.

2. type drawer and tie rack and little bowl for rings - none of my stuff is particularly nice and I just need to keep it separate and visible. So I have a type drawer that I use to keep all my earrings separate and then I have a tie rack on the wall that I hang necklaces off of. This lets me browse all my jewelry pretty quickly. Downside: dust, you have to take it all apart every now and again and dust it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:23 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I received this wonderful organizer for Christmas, and it is the best thing ever. The shop has other versions, as well, if you need more or less storage.

It's beautiful, but so functional. My habit was to take off my earrings and necklace when I get home and drop them on my desk, or my bookshelf, and then they get covered with papers and all the other things I drop there, and then they get lost. I still do that, but it's much easier now because I see them there and say, 'You don't belong here! You belong on my beautiful organizer!' And then it's super fast to put them where they belong.
posted by firei at 6:25 AM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

My necklaces: I got a bunch of those Command hooks and stuck them up on the inside wall of my closet, by the door, so I can just grab them. (I will admit that I have a walk-in closet, which does help; arranging them on any wall in a place which suits you would also work.)

My bracelets: I have a conveniently-sized bottle and just stack them all on that and have that set on a table in my room. Pull one off and wear; drop back on the bottle when done.

My rings: a little box. I don't have that many rings either, so this works.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on February 18, 2015

Oh - I also have a biggish catch-all dish on the same table as the bracelet bottle, and use that as a "dump it here" spot when I am even too lazy to put bracelets and necklaces back. And every so often I just empty it out. But it's deliberately small enough that it "fills" quickly and so I have to do it sooner than I would.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:28 AM on February 18, 2015

I have a jewelry armoire and this sitting on top. The bowl holds all the earrings I wear most often, and if I don't want to hang up necklaces I just drop them in the bowl until later.
posted by raisingsand at 6:44 AM on February 18, 2015

It's not pretty, but the only thing that's worked for me is a hanging plastic jewelry organizer with pockets. Cheap-$15-holds a ton, easy to use and see what I have, and I don't care what it looks like as it's hanging in my closet. Plus, doesn't take up counter or wall space.
posted by purenitrous at 6:45 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have some C-shaped shower hooks in my closet from which I hang all of my necklaces. I keep them on the very far side, next to the wall, and they are separated from the rest of my clothing by a couple of dresses in a garment bag. If they get tangled up, I can still easily separate the one I want by undoing the clasp and pulling it from the bunch.

I also have 4 shallow cardboard jewelry box lids that sit on top of my dresser and the earrings and rings are roughly sorted according to how fancy they are. (You could replace these lids with something nicer, like some handmade pottery! Actually I could also do that, since I'm a potter... I can't believe I just thought of this now...)
posted by cranberrymonger at 6:47 AM on February 18, 2015

Necklaces make up most of my jewelry collection, and I've found that using a hand towel stand, somewhat like this, works best; I keep it on top of the dresser and then just hang necklaces over the arms. Open storage is essential for me, because I tend to forget I have anything that isn't immediately visible.
posted by Kat Allison at 6:58 AM on February 18, 2015

I put a couple of towel racks inside my closet, and hang my necklaces on those. Rings and earrings live in a vintage milk glass deviled egg dish on my bureau.
posted by amelioration at 7:01 AM on February 18, 2015

This bisley 5-drawer is multiple drawers, but I love it for organization. There are differs side dividers that for in the drawers and can hold anti tarnish strips. I also use some big hooks for the chunkiest necklaces.
posted by mercredi at 7:03 AM on February 18, 2015

I also do the command hooks sorta method. I too have a small walk-in closet with a shelf, but they could definitely go on the back of a door.

Necklaces: Hung on thumbtacks and command hooks on one side of my closet. I organize them by style and size so the long ones go together, shorter delicate ones go together, etc. I add thumbtacks or hooks as needed.

Earrings: I keep the boards that earrings come on and add extra holes for more earrings when they can fit. I then hung picture wire between two thumbtacks and I hang the cards on those.

Extras: Stuff that doesn't go elsewhere - bracelets, rings, necklaces I don't wear often, etc - go into a small plastic drawer bin. I keep extra nice jewelry in original boxes.

Photo 1, photo 2
posted by Crystalinne at 7:09 AM on February 18, 2015

For my necklaces I covered a big bulletin board withfabric. Hung it on the wall and use pins to hang up all my necklaces.
posted by Coffee Bean at 7:10 AM on February 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

For necklaces, I use a tie hanger that looks a bit like this. I hang it on the rod in my wardrobe, so I can get to it quickly and easily. I like it because I can use different arms of the hanger to separate delicate necklaces from chunky ones.

For rings, I use a ring holder from Umbra's Zoola collection. They're a nice size if you need to store around five or six rings, and they're freaking adorable to boot.
posted by neushoorn at 7:51 AM on February 18, 2015

Chronically absentminded and disorganized. I've got an armoire with anti-tarnish linings in all drawers. The top drawer is high rotation, with general quadrants for each jewelry function. Open drawer, drop item in area, close drawer, find it there tomorrow. The other drawers are sorted strictly by function.

Every so often I go through all the drawers, and swap pieces out for lower or higher rotation.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:53 AM on February 18, 2015

I use a cork board with push-pins, just like this.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:56 AM on February 18, 2015

I have a jewelry chest very similar to this one, except the top area is a tray that lifts out as well. You want a chest or armoire with hooks and lots of drawers with spaces in them of many sizes. I manage to keep everything in there (except for a jewelry roll when I travel, and my wedding ring goes on its own ring dish), and that includes lots of tangly fine-chained necklaces and some chunky ones. I agree that an armoire may also work well for you.

It has the benefit of being beautiful and keeping everything very tidy, so I've got good incentive to put things away properly instead of letting them pile in a heap on the dressing table.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 7:58 AM on February 18, 2015

I have a TON of jewelry - necklaces, bracelets, earrings, you name it.

I am the kind of person who wants to actually see my collection, so I don't use drawers or armoires. My earrings go on three (!) earring racks - they are all handmade from either Etsy or crafts fairs. (Here is a pinboard with examples.)

The rest of my jewelry - necklaces, brooches, rings, bracelets - go in hanging jewelry pouches in my closet, (examples) except for my long and/or bulky necklaces, which go on scarf-rack type hangers. These are not the prettiest solutions, but they keep my jewelry organized, untangled, and visible.

Now I'm working on a solution for my growing collection of headbands and hair sticks. They are getting too numerous for my old solution - an old breakfast tray that I refinished and decoupaged - but again, I need an organization system that keeps them visible. YMMV, a lot of people are fine with armoires as you can see, but I work best with a system that keeps all my jewelry and accessories visible and near my clothes, so I can coordinate my outfits more easily.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:08 AM on February 18, 2015

So, I've been making jewelry since the 70's. And my grandmother made jewelry. As a consequence, I have a *ton* of jewelry. For my necklaces, I stuck an entire box of pushpins in the wall inside my closet, in rows. This has been my most successful method. I used to put the silver in a separate box so it didn't tarnish, but I found that I forgot about those pieces and didn't wear them.
Rings go in a ring box with dividers, like jewelers use for display. Bracelets-I don't really have a good system. I have one of those rotating wire racks that I use, but I'm not happy with it.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:13 AM on February 18, 2015

purenitrous: It's not pretty, but the only thing that's worked for me is a hanging plastic jewelry organizer with pockets.

My wife has something similar, like this organizer on Amazon which may be the same thing purenitrous linked to on Target. My wife has a few, some are just plastic sleeves, while you can zip complete rows closed on other ones.

Benefit: you can see everything at a glance or two, and you can hang them in your closet. Detriment: doesn't look nice enough to put on display.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:28 AM on February 18, 2015

I have a necklace tree (mine is the 2nd one down, for reference) and an earring tree (not this one but something like it). I have boxes for things that I don't use as often - three smaller, vintagey boxes that are decorative and house these less-worn items.

These are good for me as they are on top of the dresser where I will pile stuff anyway, and they're open so I can see everything. It's easy to integrate into my routine.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:29 AM on February 18, 2015

I love my wall-mounted jewelry box. Everything's visible and accessible and doesn't tangle at all, and the box looks nice and doesn't take up any space to speak of. I made mine out of an old silverware box that I found at a thrift store, but wall-mounted jewelry boxes are readily available online.
posted by orange swan at 8:56 AM on February 18, 2015

This is the method I use. I bought a silver pinboard from the Container Store, stuck a bunch of silver pushpins into it, and hung my necklaces and bracelets off it. I just hang the pinboard on a wall in my bedroom above my bureau - it's kind of like art! I keep my rings & bracelets in little bowls on the bureau underneath the pinboard.
posted by saturngirl at 9:02 AM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have hutch thing in my bedroom that has a drawer in it about waist high. At some point, I stuffed a plastic container in it -- the kind that fruit comes in sometimes at Costco. When I was later looking for a place to put some jewelry, I decided on the drawer, left the clam shell package in place, and am storing individual pieces of jewelry in each compartment. I've added some other small trays to hold things like structure bracelets that don't fit into the main packaging well.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:02 AM on February 18, 2015

I have a big cork bulletin board in my room with tons of pins stuck in it. I hang all of my necklaces, bracelets, and earrings there. A little dish holds my rings and stud earrings. It's actually encouraged me to wear my jewelry more because it's out for me to see.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:08 AM on February 18, 2015

You could get a few jewelry trays. I like this or this.

I don't wear have or wear a lot of jewelry, so I just keep mine in a couple of crystal bowls I inherited (because you can kind of see through them, and they're shiny like the jewelry, right? So I definitely know what's in there.) Chains wind up needing to be untangled, but I'd never see them, otherwise. Earrings go in one, necklaces and bracelets in another.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:10 AM on February 18, 2015

This jewerly storage, but the single-sided model - and it's full. I kind of want this two sided one now that I see it.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:56 AM on February 18, 2015

I have this wall-mounted mirrored cabinet and I love it. It's huge and keeps my tangle of necklaces organized and out of sight.

This cabinet sells under many brand names (I can't remember the name on the box), so your best search is "wall-mounted jewelry armoire".

I recently saw it at Ross for less than Amazon is asking for it.
posted by homodachi at 10:48 AM on February 18, 2015

You go to a craft store and get the translucent boxes with little compartments. There is an infinite variety, even within one craft store.

You sort the jewellery by type: hair ornaments, earrings, necklaces, brooches, bracelets, rings, ankle bracelets, toe rings. Etc.

Within each type, you sort by main colour: red, orange, yellow, light blue, light green, dark green, dark blue, purple, beige, brown, grey, black, white, goldtone, silvertone, bronzetone.

Take a category of jewellery, pick out the box with the right size of compartments, and start setting the jewellery into the compartments in colour order. Leave a few empty spaces to make room for new stuff.

If anything's fragile or of a different size, set it aside and then when you go back to the craft store, choose a separate box to fit that fragile item. You might want to get some bubble wrap to protect the really fragile stuff.

The trick is to fit the item to compartment size so it doesn't move around too much inside the box.

When you're eventually done, clear some cupboard space and stack the boxes in order, by category. Stack them in such a way that it's not too hard to take things out or put them away. You want to put something away, usually, right after you take it off unless you know for a fact that you'll wear it the next day. For those items, have a tray on your dressing table. Don't let the tray get all full of cruft. Put stuff away before that happens.

Photograph your perfectly organized jewellery cupboard.

Weep. Weep with joy at the beauty of what you have achieved.
posted by tel3path at 12:13 PM on February 18, 2015

The kind of box I mean is this type and its related items.
posted by tel3path at 12:32 PM on February 18, 2015

This is great! If I can piggyback a little -- I have many pendants but just a couple of chains, not one chain per pendant. Is there a nice way to store/display the pendants that aren't on a chain? Right now they are in a bowl, which is fine, but I also like to be able to see what I have.
posted by librarina at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2015

For earrings, I just stapled some windowscreening (or other mesh fabric or chicken wire or plastic tapestry fabric) inside a frame, and hang the frame on the wall and the earrings from the meshy fabric. If the frame is thick enough (and wooden), you can screw in some cup hooks to the bottom of the frame and hang bracelets or necklaces from them - or you could just skip the mesh and screw cuphooks inside the top of the frame.

For pendants, I'd put cork (or other pinnable material) sheets in the frame, and use T-shaped pins to hold each pendent onto the cork background. Conversely, you could glue magnets to a piece of colored wood and put any pendants with a metal surface onto the magnet (magnetic side out!).

When I was selling pendants, I used to hang them on Christmas tree hooks from a wooden dowels mostly because many of them didn't have metal backs. You could mount the dowels in a frame, too or just hang each dowel with yarn/ribbons/string from a hook(s).
posted by julen at 1:17 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am super lazy and hate re-clasping my necklaces to hang them on pins, so I glued a row of those mini super-magnets to my wall, and just throw my necklaces on those. Works like a charm and still keeps everything organized.
posted by JannaK at 2:38 PM on February 18, 2015

The bulletin board idea can look slightly better if you either paint, or, more easily, cover it with contact paper. I get lots of compliments on mine. You can redo as needed, or if you find out this solution isn't ideal, you can use your bulletin board for something else!
I have also used a hanging jewelry organizer to hold both makeup and accessories, but with so many necklaces of varying delicacy, it may not be the best option for ya.
posted by rubster at 4:48 PM on February 18, 2015

I have two shadow box frames that are hinged and lined with a kind of puffy backing that I can stick pins in. Like this, only mine is larger.

I stuck a mess of pins in them, and I hang each necklace or bracelet from a pin. The advantage of this method is that the door closes, so things I don't wear all that often do not get dusty.

For earrings, I have a jewelry box that looks like this that sits on top of a cabinet right under the shadow boxes. I just put one pair of earrings in each little compartment. That way I can easily see if any are missing, for example after a trip.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:11 PM on February 19, 2015

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