Every major jewellery brand this year has adopted a male ambassador or featured a male model when showcasing their wares. And as we note of the baubles on display on the red carpet, one thing’s clear: Size matters in men’s jewellery.
Musicians, rappers and rockers have been wearing the biggest diamonds and bejewelled accessories since memory serves. In fact, at the height of their fame some 60 years ago, the Rat Pack stalwarts Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr wore signet rings and chains studded with precious stones.
The likes of Steven Tyler, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger – perennially festooned with chains, bracelets and stacks of rings – have been setting off airport metal detectors for decades. Men wearing jewellery has long been seen as rebellious and anti-establishment – perhaps a way of raging against the machine.
The Rise of Men’s Jewellery
In ancient Egypt, deities ranging from Ra (God of the Sun and Radiance) to Osiris (the King of the Living) wore more gleaming accessories than cloth to underline their supreme power – and, to a certain extent, supreme beauty.
So why does men wearing jewellery make news in 2021?
To put it bluntly, it’s the size, the volume and the colours. As reported in Prestige recently, there’s a clear trend of high jewellery and statement pieces being worn by men. Boucheron’s Claire Choisne says, “In the last Contemplation collection, we started putting jewellery on men. For me, I didn’t care whether it was men or women – what’s important is the aesthetic effect – when you saw the brooches on men, it became so much more interesting.” Indeed men of all shapes, sizes and ages are taking risks and having fun with fashionable jewellery.
Whereas once it didn’t go much further a simple wedding band or the odd signet or pinky ring, in the 1970s The Godfather movie kickstarted the trend of the statement ring as the ultimate symbol of power. Today, however, stacking multiple rings is all the rage, as are coloured diamonds – look at the fingers of Joe Jonas (Chopard diamonds), Timothée Chalamet (Cartier’s new “friend”) or any American rapper worth his weight in gold, and you’ll notice the bling and ring are generously sized.
Closer to home, Hong Kong boy band Mirror’s Anson Lo and Edan Lui were tapped by Bulgari to star in a campaign for the B.zero1 jewellery collection. K-pop idol and Kowloon Tong-born Jackson Wang is the face of Cartier’s Juste un Clou collection and has starred in the French maison’s campaign videos since early summer.
Travis Scott and Future have been seen wearing not just the usual flashy white diamonds but coloured stones of enormous value. Describing his original design for Scott, Elliot Eliantte posted on social media, “@travisscott called me from Tokyo to whip something for the squad. A Murakami Original he drew for trav crested ‘Melted Utopia Dream’ via Utopia. Paint used from the studio!”
While many around the globe noticed the pink diamond engagement ring Jennifer Lopez wore in the ’90s, rap star Future was seen with a vast canary-yellow diamond on his little finger after he broke up with singer Ciara. Although engagement rings are often seen as a symbol of commitment, rappers have worn jewellery to indicate freedom and release.
Rihanna’s current flame ASAP Rocky has been wearing pearl necklaces, earrings and rings – once the exclusive preserve of royalty, septuagenarian socialites and dowagers – to every major red-carpet event. Meanwhile, fashion blogs were abuzz when Harry Styles wore Gucci bee pearl earrings to the Met Gala.
Out and proud Billy Porter has been borrowing high jewellery to hit the red carpet on several occasions, most memorably at the Oscars earlier this year, when he made seismic ripples on Instagram. Featuring more than 500 diamonds, his white-gold collar necklace was from fine- jewellery brand Lark & Berry.
As for the “Sexiest Men Alive”, Johnny Depp (accessorises from The Great Frog, a London-based supplier of men’s jewellery), Brad Pitt (who prefers artistic David Yurman) and Michael B Jordan (Piaget) are rarely seen without symbolic rings, beaded Buddhist bracelets and designer jewellery around their necks. At the Oscars, Jordan (star of boxing flick Creed), was decked to the hilt with a Piaget Polo white-gold tourbillon watch set with diamonds, two Possession white-gold diamond rings and two Limelight Couture Précieuse brooches. And let’s not forget Benedict Cumberbatch, who wore a vintage $46,500 nosegay brooch from from Verdura when he hit the red carpet at a charity gala.
Will the trend last? If statistics are anything to go by, they sure will. According to market-research company Euromonitor International, global sales of men’s luxury fine jewellery has seen a steady incline since 2012. According to its most recent report, the key finding was that “trend-led and gender-neutral luxury jewellery sales was on the rise. The growing social-media influx makes jewellery wear not only more casual but inclusive.
This article first appeared on Prestige Online Hong Kong.