When we think about rings, bracelets and earrings, we picture women wearing these items. From celebrities dripping in jewels on the red carpet to fashionistas staying on trend, jewellery has mainly been designed for women.
“As it was” hitmaker Styles is famous for his single-strand pearl necklace and pearl earrings while rock star Kravitz knows exactly how to layer neck pieces.
Anything from a simple single chain like Justin Bieber, or a stack of solid silver rings, chunky watches and necklaces like Depp, the best-dressed men always incorporate some bling in their looks.
Hip Hop artists and rappers are famous for their thick gold or silver bling chains and chunky signet rings.
While we might think that it’s only the modern man who now wears jewellery, it’s in fact men who started wearing it before women did.
Jewellery designer Kristin Weixelbaumer from Black Betty, chats to us about the evolution of male jewellery and how the use of jewellery by men dates back to ancient times and has evolved over time in different cultures and societies.
Men in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome often wore jewellery as a sign of status and wealth. Jewellery was an important way that the Egyptians tried to get the attention of their Gods. They thought that the more jewellery they wore, the more attractive they would be to the Gods.
Finger rings and fibulae were the most common forms of jewellery worn by Roman men, but they would also sometimes wear pendants.
In many cases, the materials used for these pieces were gold, silver, and precious gemstones.
Golden rings were reserved for men of senatorial rank.
During the Middle Ages, men's jewellery was often limited to signet rings and brooches. These pieces were used to signify one's allegiance to a particular lord or king. Royalty and the nobility wore gold, silver and precious gems. Lower ranks of society wore base metals, such as copper or pewter.
During the Renaissance, men's jewellery became more elaborate, with necklaces, bracelets, and rings featuring intricate designs and symbols. This was a time when men often wore ornate clothing and accessories as a display of their wealth and social status. Jewellery in the Renaissance usually combined gold, precious stones, and pearls, but was also commonly decorated with coloured enamels. The bigger the jewels meant the higher status power men held.
In the 19th century, men's jewellery became more subdued, with simpler designs and materials such as gold, silver, and black onyx. This was a time when men's fashion became more conservative, and the focus shifted away from ostentatious displays of wealth. Jewellery with a specific purpose such as holding a shirt together, keeping a tie in place and telling the time was all that was necessary.
According to Lang Antiques, those who continued to flaunt fashion excess, wearing numerous glittering jewels, buckles, rings and the like, were known as “fops”.
Men displayed their interest in other sports through jewellery.
In the 20th century, men's jewellery experienced a resurgence in popularity, with more varied designs and materials. This included the use of leather, stainless steel, and other non-traditional materials. Men also began wearing earrings more commonly, often in a single ear as a symbol of rebellion or personal expression.
Weixelbaumer says that while jewellery has always been a way to express one's personal style and identity, it has also been used to signify one's position in society, and this has changed over time and that the evolution of male jewellery reflects changing attitudes towards gender and social status throughout history.
“Men’s jewellery is by far the most exciting area of jewellery at the moment and I personally can’t get enough of the bold and beautiful approach we’re seeing as a trend within the jewellery category and among designers around the world.
“Of course, it’s not for every man – so finding the balance between a classic and bold (brave) look has been key in our approach with the latest Black Betty unisex collection,” says Weixelbaumer.
In general, the main movement in men's jewellery right now is boldness. Men aren't afraid to show their love for jewellery and have a carefully selected and curated jewellery look.
“We're noticing men are wearing lots of gold, especially gold chains. Beaded jewellery is definitely trending,” adds Weixelbaumer.
Other major trends right now include pearl necklaces, single statement earrings, stacking necklaces, pinky rings and oversized statement rings.