For the past several decades, men have been somewhat a neglected demographic in the world of jewelry. Up until the 60s, men limited themselves to a wristwatch and a gold wedding band, and anything in excess of that was gauche. Men in the West who flaunted their gold jewelry were derogatorily called fops, according to a Sotheby’s article.
However, the 2010s saw a steady rise in men’s jewelry — and even amid a pandemic. GQ reports that although the global fashion and retail industries struggled through the health crisis, sales of men’s jewelry sparkled.
And there’s no one to blame for this newfound appreciation but the new generation of the glitterati.
The Blinding Bling of Hip-Hop Stars
There’s no specific moment that marked the reawakening of men’s jewelry in music and Hollywood; men just gradually peeled away from unwritten fashion rulebooks and experimented with bling.
The rise of hip-hop culture through the 80s and 90s saw DJs and rappers dripping in gold chains, and celebrity jewelers became as famous as their celebrity clientele. LL Cool J was one of the stars that popularized four-finger rings. By the 2000s, rap superstars Kanye and Jay Z were sporting Jesus pieces encrusted with diamonds.
This era also marked new heights for rap stars, who made million-dollar deals outside the music industry. And as their status propelled, so did their jewelry. By 2003, the term bling bling made it to the Oxford English Dictionary.
It’s a tradition that today’s hip-hop artists uphold, although the youngest stars also deviate from the hyper-masculine style of their forebears. A$ap Rocky and Offset, for example, are more than comfortable wearing Holly Golightly-esque pieces, and their collections are worth in the millions.
The Hollywood Bling
Musicians are not the only ones rocking sparkles; even A-list actors and sports stars are spotted in pendants and bracelets. You’ll see sterling silver men’s jewelry wound around the wrist of David Beckham, and hippy beads around those of Johnny Depp. Joe Manganiello wears silver cuffs on one wrist and a watch on another. Jason Momoa — the archetype of a manly man — wears bracelets along with velvet scrunchies.
The young ones are more experimental with custom men’s jewelry. Harry Styles wore a single, infamous Gucci pearl-drop earring (rumored to be a last-minute addition) to the 2019 Met Gala. And once you get over Ezra Miller’s sensational makeup for that same event, you’ll notice a fabulous golden shell brooch from Tiffany & Co. Gen-Z superstars also know how to pay homage to tradition; Timothee Chalamet adorned his 2021 Met Gala suit with a 1920s pin and brooch by Cartier.
Embracing Individuality and Gender Fluidity
Men’s jewelry won’t stop anytime soon, especially because people embrace self-expression, individuality, and the ever-fading line between gender roles.
- Self-Expression and Individuality. Jewelry is a fantastic way to express a man’s individuality. While in ancient eras — the era of Maharajas, Sultans, and aristocrats — jewelry was used as a status symbol, people now have access to costume jewelry to showcase their personal style.
- Blurring of Gender Roles. More people are open to pieces that aren’t usually worn by their gender. For instance, many women wear masculine pieces, while men wear female styles. Unisex and androgynous pieces are also becoming more popular by the day.
The rise in men’s jewelry goes to show that jewelry knows no limits, and it’s never stagnant. If we can see a dramatic change in styles in the past few decades, we’ll expect more flamboyant and eclectic designs ever in the future.
If you’re new to men’s jewelry, start your collection with Kravit Jewelers. Browse our collection of trinkets today.