While it’s often discussed from a female perspective, men have worn jewelry for centuries, both for style and cultural significance. This article offers a brief overview of some of the key trends in male jewelry and suggests what the future might hold for it.
The practice of men wearing jewelry extends back to the Bronze Age. It increased in popularity in Europe during the Medieval times, where pieces were worn to denote a person’s status. Someone’s position in society was reflected by the type of jewelry they wore – simple metals, such as copper, for the lower classes, gold, and silver for the nobility. Men in Ancient Egypt and Rome were particularly drawn to gold jewelry as a symbol of strength and power. During the Renaissance, jewelry trends moved towards bold and colorful pieces, as well as taking on a greater political and religious significance.
Notable later trends
During the seventeenth century, wearing small decorative swords became popular among men, a trend that continued into the eighteenth century. These pieces included gold and silver, along with fine gemstones. The seventeenth century also saw the emergence of modern-style cufflinks, which were popularized by King Charles II. Meanwhile, the nineteenth century saw an eclectic mix of male jewelry styles that spanned Medieval and Renaissance periods and those of Ancient Greece and Rome. The later nineteenth century also saw a rise in hand-crafted pieces with a focus on intricate workmanship.
The twentieth century brought such distinctive styles as Art Deco, which was reflected in male jewelry designs, with simple, bold statement pieces. One of the more interesting trends of the twentieth century was the wearing of Mens Rings to symbolize marriage. While men had long worn rings, it was during the mid-twentieth century that they became a symbol of marital status. This was due to changing attitudes in society. It was also seized upon by jewelry retailers, who realized they could sell male and female wedding bands as a set, thereby boosting sales. The 1960s saw a trend towards hippie-style pieces, such as long necklaces and pendants, while the 1980s hip-hop movement increased the popularity of chunky gold pieces and precious stones that denoted individual style and wealth.
The 2020s and beyond
The twenty-first century has seen a general resurgence in male jewelry as part of a wider trend towards men expressing their personal style in more distinctive ways. Recent developments in male jewelry include a move towards bold colors and statement pieces. In addition, one of the key trends that look set to continue is the use of different materials, especially natural responsibly sourced materials, such as wood. Many consumers are now asking more questions about the provenance of what they buy, and jewelry-makers are recognizing the importance of ensuring what they offer is sustainable as well as stylish.
Trends in male jewelry across the centuries reflect changing attitudes in wider society. However, while eras and fashions come and go, it’s clear that jewelry will always be popular among men who like to make a bold statement with their style.