Turn Your Failed-Relationship Jewelry into a Makeup Shopping Spree


Oh, awesome, it’s almost Valentine’s Day again. I hate Valentine’s Day, and there’s no particular reason why. I’m in a relationship, I like candy—it should be a shoo-in for me. But I dislike a culturally enforced, made-up “romantic” holiday designed to leave single people out while also creating unrealistic expectations for couples.

Every year, when February rolls around, whether I’m in a relationship or not, I “celebrate”  by doing something totally unromantic. Last year I took a self-defense class. The year before, I went to The Stranger’s Valentine’s Day Bash in Seattle, which is hosted by love and sex columnist Dan Savage. The crowd brings mementos from failed relationships onstage, explains what they signify, and Dan destroys said memento in a spectacular fashion (think baseball bat and electric buzzsaw).

This winter, while cleaning out my closets, I found a cache of old, crappy jewelry from high school, college, and early-twenties love affairs. As I opened the tiny velvet boxes and examined gaudy Black Hills Gold necklaces and hideous bracelets, my first thought was, “I should melt these down for my throne.” But then it hit me. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to pawn all these stupid pieces of failed-relationship-related jewelry and use the money to buy what I really like? Makeup, that is.

Yes! After rounding up some sellable pieces, I brought them to my local pawn shop, and walked out emotionally lighter and literally richer. Then I went online and had a beauty shopping spree. Because let’s be honest—nobody buys me better presents than me. Here are some highlights from my day o’ pawning for beauty.

What it is: The aforementioned Black Hills Gold necklace. It’s a little gold heart with little gold maple leaves on a little gold chain. I hate it.

Where I got it: John*, my first official boyfriend, gave this to me when I was 14.

Fun fact: John used an aftershave I was violently allergic to, and that’s how my mom would know if I had snuck out to meet him the night before.

How much I got for it: $32. Whoooa I was expecting to get maybe $5. Apparently this necklace was 100% 14-karat gold. Thanks John!

What I bought instead: Dita Von Teese Erotique Eau de Parfum, because I’ve been coveting it forever and it smells so good, and come on with that elegant little crystal bottle to lay on your dressing table, all fancy-lady-like.

What it is: Small garnet earrings set into sterling silver. I never wore them.

Where I got them: Katie*, my first official girlfriend, pulled these out of her ears and gave them to me on the spot when I told her I liked them. I was 17. I loved Katie so much that I considered these earrings holy relics, and set them down at the feet of a Virgin Mary statue I had in my room, like a shrine.

Fun fact: Neither Katie or I ever acknowledged or talked about the fact that we were both girls, even though we’d both previously only been interested in boys. We “just really liked each other as people.”

How much I got for them: $9. “These are very bad quality,” the guy at the pawn shop said. “I shouldn’t even buy these.”

What I bought instead: Sugarpill Cosmetics Loose Eyeshadow in Darling because Sugarpill shadows are  super pigmented and Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, queen of blue eye makeup, is an unsung style icon.

What it is: A very heavy, weird, solid silver chain bracelet with a fleur-de-lis design.

Where I got it: Ben*, a boy I dated in college, gave this to me when I was 19. I wore it once and then used it as a dog anklet on a Great Dane for a photo shoot.

Fun fact: I’m 100% certain Ben stole this from someone’s dresser at a party.

How much I got for them: $28. Solid silver, baby!

What I bought instead: Anna Sui Rose Ring Rouge in 302 because OH MY GOD how cute are these secret lip gloss rings? I can’t.

What it is: Heavy, solid silver Tiffany bracelet with a heart-shaped charm.

Where I got it: This actually belongs to my good friend Kelly, who, when I told her I was going to the pawn shop with failed-relationship jewelry, tossed the bracelet at my head and said, “Here, take this for me when you go—I never want to see this piece of shit again.”

Fun fact: Kelly is a highly romantic individual, and her pawning this bracelet is the equivalent of a regular person slitting their ex’s tires.

How much I pawned it for: $70!!! What!

What Kelly bought instead: She refused to buy makeup (bish, you are ruining my theme) and gleefully pocketed the cash. A happy Valentine’s Day for all!

*names changed to protect the innocent

What are some of your unconventional Valentine’s Day traditions? Share in the comments below!

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Feb 12, 2019

Vishal T.

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Feb 23, 2014

Valala A.

Creo que es graciosa la gente que esta fuertemente en contra de el d?a de san valentin, al fin y al cabo parecen darle mas importancia que quienes si tienen con quien celebrar.

Feb 22, 2014

Chande B.

I don't usually do much for Valentine's but my boyfriend and I went gambling this year and won $200 on keno and video poker! We spent it all that same day lol.

Feb 11, 2014

Becky K.

This is the best beautilish article ever!! I was laughing so hard I had to read it out loud to my coworker  :)

Feb 10, 2014

Haley K.

My friend got $113 bucks from a gold necklace some guy gave her that he got in Dubai for dirt cheap.

Feb 09, 2014

Caitlyn G.

Unfortunately, all my exs never gave me anything. The guy I'm dating now is pretty snazzy though.

Oh, and I'm having my wisdom teeth taken out for Valentine's day. Ill be having a romantic night in with some painkillers, and Adventure Time.

Feb 09, 2014

Maraam A.

Omg, some of these stories are so funny! but it is a very good idea to sell them! than you!!

Feb 08, 2014

Brandi M.

I want to do this with a necklace and engagement ring from my ex, but our off and on history is so inconsistent and unstable that I worry if we ever happen to be on again, he'll ask questions lmao.

Feb 08, 2014

Savoy S.

Soo funny and creative lol.

Feb 08, 2014

Amber M.

This was the best!!

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