Why I Don’t Buy Jewelry Jars

jewelry-jarsFirst, let me say I love the idea of thrift store jewelry jars. All the sparkly baubles appeals to my girly sensibilities. (For the uninitiated, jewelry jars (or bags) are jewelry odds and ends that are lumped together for sale. The containers are sealed and you can’t open them up prior to purchasing.)

I enjoy watching YouTube videos where folks dump out a jar and show us everything in it… like Angie of Treasured Vintage who is not only sweet and entertaining, but shares a wealth of jewelry knowledge as she sorts through the pieces. (Thank you Angie!) But, here’s the thing, most of the stuff in the jars is usually junk. Items are newer, cheaply made and/or frequently broken, damaged or tangled.

Now I suppose if you’ve only paid $8 or $14 or even $20 for a jar, there are bound to be enough sellable items so at least you’ll make your money back and perhaps even a small profit. And if you’re a crafter you might be able to use some of the bits in a project. But most of the items are not worth a tuppence!

Of course the allure of jewelry jars is the hope that there will be a few quality pieces amidst all the dross, perhaps something in sterling silver or even gold. And yes, sometimes there are stellar finds! Older 10K gold rings are often unmarked and get tossed in unknowingly. And every once in a while a fabulous vintage designer piece is found. But it is rare.

And what happens with all the leftover junk from a jewelry jar? Buyers dump it back in a jar and sell it to someone else! You see tons of these on eBay. Here’s one listing that surprised me…three boxes of tangled costume jewelry described as “wear, repair and harvest” for $300 plus $54 shipping! Phew! That’s quite price. Since this gal also sells individual costume jewelry pieces and small jewelry lots, the fact that she is selling this as a HUGE lot tells me that it’s likely so tangled that it’s not worth the effort to untangle and she has already cherry picked the best pieces.


I’ll be honest, if I was going to spend $350 on jewelry to resell (or even for myself), this is not what I would buy. I wish her well on this sale, but for me there are so many better options for the $$$.

For example, for $27 I bought 3 sterling silver bangle bracelets. Two are Orb (Otto R. Bade) bracelets. The successor of Frank Rebajes, Otto was a silversmith from 1958-1971. These are vintage, a nice weight and so wearable.


And for $50, I bought these three antique stickpins. They are quite small, but are 10k gold with real turquoise, opal and teeny, tiny diamonds. They would be cute grouped together on a lapel or made into delicate charms for a bracelet. I really love the flash in the opal.


Is there profit left in these? Absolutely!

I love finding fabulous items like these online, but I’ve also find nice bits at estate sales and yard sales. Well, you have too! But I always look for quality, uniqueness and condition.

I will say in all fairness most of the folks who buy jewelry jars/bags/boxes buy them because they spot one or two pieces that look promising and the price is right. Someday maybe I’ll find a jewelry jar worth buying, but so far it hasn’t happened!

As always, happy hunting!!


  1. Kim

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I found you shortly after I started an Etsy vintage shop. I’ve learned so much from you and truly appreciate the knowledge you share with all of us. Hearing about your finds, cleaning advise, the stories of the hunt, etc are so helpful and entertaining! I get really behind in the emails but I look forward to reading yours and I don’t pass it up for “another day”.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Kim…that encourages me. 🙂 I always feel like I’m learning something new too. Great shop by the way! – Karen


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