By: Diana Pemberton-Sikes

Thinking about adding to your jewelry collection?

Before you reach for the latest piece to catch your eye, take a good look in your jewelry box to assess what you already have. For just as you can get "stuck in a rut" with your clothing, so, too, can your jewelry accessorizing suffer from lack of creativity. Before you duplicate something you already have, take a few minutes to survey your current collection to see what you can REALLY use.

Let's start with some basics.

There are three categories of jewelry: fine, bridge, and costume.

Fine jewelry consists of metals like platinum, gold, and silver, and gems like diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Pearls can also fall into this group, depending on their quality. The most expensive category of jewelry, fine jewelry is the level we often aspire to but can only afford in small doses.

Bridge jewelry is better than costume but not as good as fine, and is made from semi-precious stones, natural woods, enamels, porcelains, and the like. If you can't afford fine jewelry, bridge pieces offer an excellent, long-lasting alternative.

Costume jewelry is gentle on the budget and can add flair and fun to your casual looks. If you're a devotee of following the latest fads, costume jewelry is the way to go. You'll find it in a variety of price ranges, and some even emulate fine and bridge categories.

Once you've looked over your collection, you'll probably notice that most of your pieces fall into one category. These are the pieces you wear the most or used to wear a lot of once upon a time (before babies, retirement, moving to a tropical island, or whatever).

So now's the time to ask yourself some serious questions, like:

* Which of my pieces need updating? Or replacing? Or repair?

* Could I extend my current jewelry wardrobe by adding a key piece like a long chain, a pendant, or diamond studs?

* Is it time to upgrade a favorite costume piece with a more durable bridge level look-a-like?

* Should I sell or give away some of my older, unworn pieces to make way for newer selections I WILL wear?

* Would I wear what I have more often if the whole mess were organized in a more user-friendly in a new, roomier jewelry box?

Now you've probably never given the matter this much thought before, but perhaps it's time to do just that. Often, we're given pieces that aren't "us" and that end up filling our jewelry boxes, never to see the light of day. Why smile through another monogrammed heart-shaped pendant when a stunning pin you've wanted costs just the same? Or add yet another gold chain when an onyx one would work with more outfits?

If you really want to do justice to your jewelry collection, take a few minutes to really go through what you have. Pull the things you don't wear, inventory the things you do wear, and make a list of what you need to round out your jewelry wardrobe. You'll be able to look good, save money, and invest wisely, all at the same time.

About the author:

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Accessory Magic," an ebook that shows women how to use their fashion accessories to define their style and stretch their budgets. Visit her online at

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