Why I Don’t Buy Jewelry Jars


First, 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. But, here’s the thing, most of the stuff in the jars is junk. Items are newer, cheaply made and/or frequently broken, damaged or tangled.

Now I suppose if you’ve only paid $20 for a jar, there are bound to be enough sellable items so you’ll make your money back and even make a 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 have little value and as a seller of vintage stuff, hold little appeal for me.

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! Amazing pieces are found. Older 10K gold rings are often unmarked and get tossed in unknowingly. There are bits of sterling silver. Sometimes even rings with real diamonds. And every once in a while a fabulous vintage designer piece is found. But it is not the norm. (My local Goodwill occasionally puts out packed jewelry bags in the $60 to $120 range, but I have never been tempted because I know they are fairly jewelry savvy at this store.)

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. 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. Hi Jenny. You can find jewelry jars at thrift stores and online at sites like eBay. I find a better option is to buy jewelry lots where all the pieces are shown and some details are given. All the best, Karen


  2. I would have to say I disagree with your take on the jewelry jars. I buy around 3-5 of them a month from the Goodwill in my area. At $70 each. I have never purchased one where I did not triple my money. You are correct in saying they do not know what they are looking for. There is plenty of 925 silver in most jars to get your money back . Usually only a couple scrap pieces of gold. Sometimes NICE gold pieces. But I find the real money is in fact in the items they don’t know they’re putting in there. Antique-Victorian earrings and charms. Vintage drop necklaces. Pearls. But I will say the biggest moneymaker is charm bracelets. Even the garbage charm bracelets, play toy charm bracelets from the 90s, loose charms, the buckets are loaded with them. Most of them I take them apart and sell the charms at $9.75 each. The nice bracelets I leave together and sell them for between $30-$90 on eBay all day long within a matter of a week. I have a diamond tester and find diamonds. It’s time-consuming but not if it’s fun. I think you should give it a try.


    1. Thanks for your comment Brandon. I think a lot depends on the savviness of the thrift store staff. I rarely find any jewelry (or jewelry jars) worth buying at my local thrift stores because the staff is very knowledgeable and most of the good stuff gets sent online or is priced up.

      I’m glad you do well with them. I know others do too and have scored some amazing things. Maybe someday I find one worth buying and take the plunge! – Karen


  3. I finally got a jewelry jar Big disappointment I feel I was tricked. It was $29.99 junk. What I thought was heart charms ended up being a Double strand necklace with hearts which are junk. Got a s necklace that said Germany on it very light I think is made in Germany not silver. Lots of junk. What I thought was silver is junk. Oh well it took me a long time to finally get one never again. This was the best jar they had to at my goodwill in ny. Good thing I didn’t get the $99.99 jar or the $39.99 jars. No wonder they had lots of jars and bags there all junk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Connie. Thanks for sharing. I know some folks have had good luck with them. but I still haven’t been tempted to buy one. Too much junk. Plus my Goodwill is now pricing their jewelry bags at $129.99!! I’d rather cherry pick the pieces of jewelry I sell. – Karen


  4. Hello. New to your site. Actually I was looking at jewelry being sold on line and got into your site. For the most part I’ve been lucky when I’ve bought jewelry jars.
    I’ve found 14 k, silver, diamonds and gems. However to be honest you do get alot of necklaces, chains and braclets that you can recycle and sell (if in good shape). I buy for myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cathy. Thanks for your comment. I know that some folks seem to have amazing luck with jewelry jars. Glad you have too! I’ve never seen anything in any of them that I thought was worth the price tag. 😦 Some day maybe!! – Karen


  5. I have gotten lot jewelry jars from a Goodwill. and have a lot of beautiful items from Goodwill in De on Lea Blvd.I just paid 15.OO,very satisfied,watches chains,rings,some very expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love jewelry jars! The people at my local thrift stores, and some on E-bay, either don’t always know about what they dismiss as “junk” or they just don’t have time to sort and list it all. And, you are right about it being mostly junk, at least by bulk. I ended up with bout 50 lbs. of boxes and bags of junk that’s broken or isn’t really worth listing on E-bay unless you want to make 2 dollars an hour. Don’t automatically dismiss plastic pieces as worthless junk; learn how to identify early plastic, such as bakelite. I recently bought a plastic bakelite carved bangle for 2 dollars and discoved that it easily sells for $200. As for the rest of the “unsellables”? They’re a CRAFTER’S DELIGHT! Use it to embellish old picture frames, boxes, shells. etc. Re-invent it! Then sell if you want to. Met a famous artist who covers whole cars in it!-JEN

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jen. Thanks for your input. Because my passion is vintage and antique jewelry I haven’t found a jewelry jar that has tempted me, but I do cherrypick pieces at thrift stores including vintage crystal, bakelite and lucite brooches and necklaces. All the best, Karen


  7. Hi Jen Thank you for your info. I am just starting out & so confused on buying jar or bags of jewelry. The ones I have seen are mostly necklaces & a few bracelets. I have some old screw on earrings from an adopted “Grandma” that passed many years ago that she left for me. Where is best place to find out about vintage compared to just junk jewelry? Love your blog.. ❤


    1. Hi Cindy. Actually Jen was another commenter! There are many sources for info on vintage jewelry. Personally I get books out of the library, read other blogs and watch Youtube videos. All the best, Karen


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