Sounds hard to believe, but it is very true. And they’ve been like this since time immemorial. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, and women may love to accessorize, but men sure aren’t to be left far behind. From the times of Ancient Greece and Egypt to high fashion and couture today, men have always been as drawn to jewelry. Ask the Egyptian mummies or the Aztec idols of men bedecked in jewelry. Jewelry has always been associated with women and vanity, but men aren’t to be left far behind. So what are the facts about men and jewelry? That’s quite a complex cultural and ethnographic question, considering that different cultures ascribe different significance to jewelry.
As an indicator of social standing:
Ancient Indian princes for instance wore earrings that were called ‘Kavachas’ to display their status and rank, with respect to their family lineage and their distance to the crown. Not unlike rock stars of today, where the bling factor is amply evident, setting them apart from the fans and mere mortals.
Rings and the man:
Rings have always held the fancy of man. Rings symbolized several things, from virility to right to rule. Rings have also been integral to ceremonies from marriage to practices of the occult. Men’s rings have always been broader, heavier and carved on more intricately. From Sauron’s ring of power to the Papal ring, rings as a symbol of power have always been synonymous with men.
Men’s jewelry is earthier:
From necklaces made of bones recovered from ancient Shamanical sites, to the modern wooden bead necklaces made popular by the flower power movement of the 1960s, men’s jewelry has always been earthier, in the sense that the materials used, both precious and commonplace are a lot more symbolic of ruggedness and taming nature as it were.
All about accentuation rather than embellishment:
One clear difference in the jewelry preferred by the two sexes is accentuation vis-a-vis embellishment. While women go in for the dainty, intricate and complex designs, men’s jewelry is generally heavier, more thickset (read chunky) and is clearly more utilitarian rather than for the sake of beauty. A man’s ring for example will always be solid metal that accentuate the thickness of his finger, a pendant will always stand out because of its sheer thickness and draw attention to his neck and so on.
Style icons and jewelry:
Men from all walks of life wear rings, bracelets, earrings and other pieces of jewelry, but it is the celebrities and superstars that make it fashionable and synonymous. Rap artists like Lil Wayne, Kanye West and 50 Cent have all made men’s jewelry mainstream. The bling factor is considered a necessity for any man today.
Worn well it could make or break a look and be the difference between fashionista and fashion disaster. What’s even more intriguing is the sheer variety of items worn by celebrities that pass off as men’s jewelry. From bejeweled belt buckles a la Kanye West, to diamond grilles (read braces) a la Lil Wayne and thick knotted platinum chains, courtesy 50 Cent, men’s jewelry has reached dizzying new heights.
Whether it is about setting themselves apart or simply making a statement, a well worn piece of jewelry can work wonders for a man, just like it does for a woman. That being said, men may not be as vociferous about expressing their admiration for all things shiny, but you better believe that for whatever reason they wear it, jewelry is a part of a man’s wardrobe and it is here to stay!
Melroy Pinto is a trend-hunter and fashion writer who loves contributing to magazine and blogs about all things male fashion.