Tag Archives: expert

Q&A with a Professional Organizer [‘How to Start Decluttering’ Edition]

This week’s guest blog post comes to us from Bonnie Dewkett, a certified professional organizer who began organizing as a child, and has been organizing ever since. Her company, The Joyful Organizer, creates and implements organizational systems for both the home and office. Passionate about helping others meet their organizational goals, Bonnie loves to see the positive impact that getting organized has on people’s lives.


“I need to declutter, but I’m having trouble letting go of sentimental items or practical things that I might need ‘someday.’ What should I do?”

The best thing is to ask yourself what it’s costing you to keep the item.  If you pay rent or a mortgage you’re paying a per foot cost for everything in your home.  If it’s not worth that cost, out it goes.  Many items can be replaced for much less than you are paying to store them.  Another question to ask yourself is: “If I moved today, would I pay someone to move this for me?”  If the answer is no, donate it.

For sentimental items, I suggest giving yourself (and every other family member in the household) a limit.  For example, one tote per person.  The items inside the tote can change over time, but keeping your sentimental items limited is key.

If something is very meaningful to you, consider finding a way to honor it. For example, before donating something, I like to take a photo of it. You could also consider projects such as framing a piece of a wedding dress, using a shadow box for jewelry, or making a quilt from old t-shirts.

“When I start organizing a very cluttered space (attic, garage, etc.). I get overwhelmed by the volume of stuff. How do I stay motivated when it feels like there’s no end in sight?”

Break every large organizing project down into smaller tasks.  If you’re organizing the garage, make yourself a list.  It might look like this:

  • Sort through boxes
  • Sweep the floor
  • Add in shelves
  • Buy totes
  • Hang garden tools

Breaking a large project down into tasks makes it seem less overwhelming. It also allows you to find the time for each smaller task.  If you’re sorting through a number of boxes, remove those boxes, one at a time to another space.  Going through them one at a time allows you to focus and keeps the feeling of being overwhelmed to a minimum.

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“Is there one product or tool that you think everyone should use to help them stay organized?”

I love binders.  By inserting page protectors you can store just about anything; take out menus, manuals for appliances, printables, photos, and so much more.  My other favorite is the over-the-door shoe rack.  These are available at just about every super store (and even some dollar stores) and they can hold ANYTHING.  I love to use them for toys, snacks, water bottles, first aid supplies, accessories like scarves and mittens, arts and crafts supplies or even dolls.

“If someone is looking for professional help, but they’re not sure about how to budget for it or what type of services to get, what advice would you give to them?”

There are lots of affordable options out there for every budget.  Many organizers will design a plan for you so that you know what to do and when to do it.  It takes the guesswork out of the process.  Other organizers can even help you virtually through phone calls or videoconference sessions.  This keeps you accountable and on task.  If you can’t afford an organizer, find an organizing buddy with a neighbor or friend.  Spend time helping each other get organized and holding each other accountable for your goals.

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For more information, visit The Joyful Organizer website or email info@thejoyfulorganizer.com.

Q&A with a Jeweler [Wedding Rings Edition]

Mom Pic (Resized)Peggy Woon is a GIA-accredited jeweler; now a retiree, she was in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years. For 28 years, she and her business partner co-owned the Silver Lining Jewelry store in Oakland, Calif.  Today, she spends her time spoiling 3 grandchildren and 2 German Shepherds, as well as volunteering with local non-profits. Unable to stay away from her first passion, she can also be found working the jewelry counter at the Oakland Museum of California’s White Elephant Sale and occasionally at Given Gold Jewelers on Piedmont Avenue.


What’s the most popular metal for wedding rings? 

For men, I see a trend toward more affordable metals like titanium, carbon fiber and tungsten; these bands are somewhere in the $200 to $300 range. They’re all alternative metals, used for cool applications like spaceships because they’re heat resistant or used to formulate new prosthetic pieces because they’re non-allergenic. These days, jewelers can do a lot of different styles for men’s bands by mixing in different metals to make the bands look fancier.

For women, for the past 10 years white gold -not so much platinum- has been more popular than yellow gold. I don’t think it will change any time soon. I don’t see yellow gold making a huge comeback, but lately people have been going for more rose gold. People think it looks warmer because of its pinky copper tone, but it’s harder to match other jewelry to it. If people do pair jewelry with rose gold, I typically see it paired with silver or white gold, rather than yellow gold.

What other wedding-related trends are you seeing?

You’ll always have some people looking for a big solitaire bling with a band against it, but in the last 4-5 years, the trend in wedding rings has moved toward something a little different – not necessarily a large solitaire diamond. Rather than a solitaire with a band against it, some are opting for a single band with diamonds all around it. Also, rings with color stones are becoming increasingly popular, such as emerald and sapphire.

Where should people store their most precious jewelry at home? 

Being in the jewelry business, we have heard many stories of jewelry theft. If you wear pieces often that are very valuable to you, please don’t store it in a jewelry box or an open container on your dresser or nightstand. That’s the first place robbers will look for valuables. It’s best to regularly put things in a very safe, but not obvious place. Just don’t forget where you hide your jewelry!

When it comes to the five C’s (cut, color, clarity,  certification, carat), are there areas people can compromise on, yet still get a beautiful-looking diamond?

  • For cut, you can compromise. It’s rather hard for the untrained eye to tell if a cut is good or bad. It’s about the precision of the cut; professionals often check the cuts by holding stones side by side and looking for how the stones reflect the light. When it comes to cut, its more about your preference. If it looks appealing to you, that is what matters. See if it sparkles in a way that you like and if it’s cut in a shape that you like.
  • For color, if you have a yellow-gold setting you can compromise on getting a diamond that’s more yellow-tone on the color scale; it won’t show as much due to the yellow-gold setting.”D” is a colorless diamond, but H, I  and J are more yellow.
  • For clarity, try not to compromise on this. The inclusions – such as carbon – in the diamond will darken the look of the stone.
  • For certifications: if you’re getting a diamond over 1 carat, try to get one that is certified; this is just for peace-of-mind. If you change insurance, certificates will stand over time. Whereas, if you get a diamond that isn’t certified, you may have to do reappraisals.
  • For carat, this is an area you can compromise on. Let’s say you are looking for a 2 carat diamond. Consider buying one that is just under 2 carats, such as 1.95 carats; it can lower the cost by 10-15% , but to the human eye, no one will be able to tell that it’s not 2 carats.

What are your recommendations when it comes to buying diamonds online?

Every retailer, whether online or not, will have good and bad customer reviews. I personally would prefer to go to a store and find a reputable person who has been dealing in diamonds for a long time so that I could see and touch the product. One online option to consider is Blue Nile; they specialize in diamonds and have a wide selection. One other uncommon brick and mortar option to consider: Costco. It’s one of the best buys around; they often have certified diamonds. People might feel funny saying their diamond came from Costco due to social stigma or pride, but the Costco jewelry selection is good and so are the prices.

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts featuring experts

Q&A with a Jeweler [Glittering Gold Edition]

Mom Pic (Resized)Peggy Woon is a GIA-accredited jeweler; now a retiree, she was in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years. For 28 years, she and her business partner co-owned the Silver Lining Jewelry store in Oakland, Calif.  Today, she spends her time spoiling 3 grandchildren and 2 German Shepherds, as well as volunteering with local non-profits. Unable to stay away from her first passion, she can also be found working the jewelry counter at the Oakland Museum of California’s White Elephant Sale and occasionally at Given Gold Jewelers on Piedmont Avenue.


What is the difference between 24k, 18k and 14k gold? 
When it is mined, it’s 24k solid gold. To make it into jewelry, they have to mix in different alloys to maintain hardness.

18k gold is 75 percent pure (that’s why they stamp it 750) plus 25 percent other alloys to make it hard enough to make it into jewelry.

14k is 525 parts gold and 475 parts different alloys.

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If someone wanted to buy a gold piece of jewelry, would you recommend they not get 24k gold because it’s too soft?
24k is really malleable, so unless it’s a really thick piece of jewelry to make it very strong, then it will bend. If you were to buy a thick 24k ring, for instance, it will conform to the shape of your finger.

When you’re shopping for gold jewelry for yourself, what do you typically buy? 
I mostly buy 14k. With 18k you really cannot see the difference, it’s just that you’d know the difference. Some people like having more pure pieces in their collection, but to the general onlooker, no one will know if it’s 14k or 18k.

What does ‘gold filled’ or ‘gold plated’ mean? 
Gold filled is alloy mixed with gold to make it stronger. Usually, it will turn to a shade that’s less shiny than 14k. Typically they’ll do a flash coating of 14k on the outside to give it a nice 14k look, but that will wear away over time. Overall, it will stay a gold color, but it will not be as pretty of a color as what you’d get with 14k.

Gold plated means they’ve coated another metal, such as sterling or brass, with a coat of gold. It will wear off with time and the metal on the inside will show.

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts featuring experts

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