It hasn’t always been acceptable for men to wear jewelry. Fortunately for us all, the times they are a-changing. Many of today’s sexiest, most appealing celebrity males — think Johnny Depp or David Beckham — are leading the way with stacks of bracelets, pendant necklaces, earrings and rings. Jewelry is now a mark of sophistication, of being fashionable. And it’s a way for men to express themselves creatively.
It’s catching on big time. The men’s jewelry market constituted two-thirds of the growth in the total jewelry market from 2008 to 2010. Online research conducted by Karus Chains reveals significant growth in searches and sales of men’s jewelry, with online searches for men’s necklaces alone growing by almost 40 percent from 2013 to 2014. In order to grab their share of this growth, high-end fashion designer brands and retailers such as John Hardy, Tiffany, Barneys New York, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Tom Woods are increasingly catering to men’s tastes in their jewelry designs.
The most important thing to remember when you’re considering jewelry gifts for men is to KISS: Keep It Simple and Subtle. Unless you are absolutely sure that he wants a beaded bracelet or diamond-stud earrings, it’s best to avoid decorative pieces or shiny bling, particularly if people aren’t used to seeing it on him. Men tend to gravitate toward functional jewelry, so the further the piece gets away from functional and heads down that sliding scale toward decorative, the less generally acceptable it is.
When in doubt, it’s best to start men’s jewelry purchases with the basic, more traditionally accepted pieces first, such as watches, cuff links, tie clips or pins and money clips. Rings (particularly class or team rings and signets) and bracelets (ID, cuff, leather or thread) are increasingly common and appreciated by men. If the number of online searches for those items is any indication into their popularity, searches for each of those items increased by more than one-third in just the year between 2013 and 2014. Plus, bracelets don’t need to be sized, which may be an important factor.
In general, think about his style and interests when buying jewelry for a man, but erring on the side of simplicity and subtlety is probably the best approach.
Obviously, gold and silver are the metals chosen by most men who wear jewelry, though platinum is gaining ground quickly. Gold is more of a color, a yellow accent, and wears well with browns and other earth tones such as deep blue or green. Silver, on the other hand, operates more as a neutral gray, rather than a color, and is therefore more functional with any color. Traditional rules dictate that metals should match — if he’s wearing a silver ring, he should wear a silver necklace, for example — but these days, traditional may not mean much to your guy, in which case, feel free to mix it up.
Titanium and tungsten are both rapidly gaining in popularity as well, for a few reasons: They’re significantly harder than other precious metals and therefore pretty indestructible, being both scratch- and crack-resistant; they also both have a more industrial, casual appearance that’s more modern and understated. Titanium is more similar to sterling silver, while tungsten has a dark, gunmetal-gray appearance. Plus, they both tend to be more affordable than other precious metals such as gold or platinum. Titanium is extremely lightweight and hypoallergenic to boot, though tungsten is neither. However, it’s important to note that neither metal can be resized, so make sure you know his ring size if you opt for a titanium or tungsten ring.
Alloys such as brass and stainless steel may be good choices for men’s jewelry, because they have a more comfortable, casual, worn-in appearance and are less showy, not to mention less expensive. Leather is also an increasingly popular choice for men’s jewelry. It can be seen showing up on men’s wrists, as thick cuffs or woven bracelets, or as a natural accent on rings or pendants. Because of their affordability and the fact that men tend to prefer natural, earthy materials — think fossils — as opposed to shiny objects, natural materials like wood, bone, fibers, thread and rubber have been gaining ground in the men’s jewelry market. Be careful not to overdo these, though, as they often connote youthfulness or rebellion, so on the wrong guy, they can make him appear as if he’s trying too hard.
In general, be cautious of precious stones, which can appear too feminine or too showy. One way to incorporate stones is to consider birthstone gifts for men, which are more personalized and can be done tastefully and in an understated way. Here are some birthstone gifts for men that you might want to try:
- Class ring — show off his Alma Mater and his birthday at once
- A simple wedding band with small birthstones (his and hers?) embedded in its surface
- Military service ring — a great way to honor a veteran
- Dog-tag necklace with embedded stones
- Masculine pendant — try a chunky stone, such as turquoise, a crystal or a silver pendant with embedded stones
- Cuff links
- Tie pin/clip
- Belt buckles — this look is more ornate and attention-getting
Make It Personal With Engravings
Whereas women seem to choose jewelry based on styles or trends, or simply to match an outfit, men actually tend to be more emotionally attached to their jewelry than women. The pieces men choose to wear are worn consistently because those pieces have special significance, based on the people, places or ideas those pieces represent.
- A simple ring band with a special date engraved on the inside
- A signet ring engraved with his initials
- A watch or bracelet engraved with his initials or name, or a favorite quote or inside joke
- Cuff links or a tie pin/clip engraved with monogram initials or a retirement date
- A dog-tag necklace engraved with an inspiring, loving message or quote (some jewelers may even be able to engrave photos or images on dog tags)
- A charm necklace containing a few small pendants, each with an engraved date, name or memory
- A cross pendant engraved with the initials of a special relative (maybe who’s passed?) or a special date
- A bracelet or watch engraved with “Semper Fi” or some other military, organization or team motto
- An elegant money clip engraved with his initials, name, a saying or an important date
- A masculine jewelry box or watch box in which to keep a few special pieces, with the top engraved or monogram-stamped
Choose a Knowledgeable Jeweler
When it comes to selecting jewelry gifts for men, you’re much better off going to an independently owned jewelry store where the staff are knowledgeable. Big chain jewelry stores are usually pretty affordable and have good customer service, but the folks working behind the counters are likely sales clerks and not jewelry experts. Not only that, but you’re more likely to find one-of-a-kind pieces at locally owned stores, heirlooms from estate sales or antiques. These places also are more likely to work with you on customizing your pieces — changing out a stone, for instance.
It’s best to have an idea of what you’re looking for before you go shopping. If you walk into a store and say, “I’m looking for a nice gift for my husband, what do you suggest?” that’s a pretty big, empty slate to start with. It’s far better to say, “I’m looking for a watch for my husband, something classic and traditional, and I have this much to spend.” You’re much more likely to get the best results that way.
Or, if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for yet, take the time to describe the man you’re shopping for — his likes and dislikes, his habits or his personal style. The staff at a smaller, independently owned shop will spend the time making suggestions for you and getting to know you and the man you’re shopping for. Be sure that wherever you shop, you actually are talking to someone who’s knowledgeable about men’s jewelry — styles, materials, sizing, stones, etc. The staff at Mountz Jewelers attend monthly training from designers and other professionals in the field.
A jewelry purchase can be a significant expense, so you definitely want to get it right the first time. It may seem appealing to shop at an antique or pawn shop, and it’s likely that you’ll find some interesting and unique pieces at such places. However, remember that return policies at such stores are rigid or even nonexistent. They’re also unlikely to know a whole lot about jewelry, specifically, and they’re unlikely to offer any warranties or to handle repairs. Don’t shell out big money until you have an educated jeweler examine the piece you’re interested in.
Remember These 5 Things When Buying Jewelry Gifts for MenForget about what’s popular, and forget about the clarity of the stone or the luxurious quality of the metal or stone. When it comes to buying jewelry for men, there are only five basic rules you need to remember:
- A little goes a long way. A basic watch, a simple ring band or a tastefully modest bracelet may be all it takes to get him noticed for his great taste. In other words, it’s not necessary to go big, flashy or expensive.
- Start with the man himself. Who is he? What does he like? Forget about Johnny Depp and avoid trends. Just concentrate on the man you’re buying for. What can you see him wearing?
- Remember that jewelry is a great conversation starter. What kind of conversation will your selected piece initiate — and will it be a conversation he’ll enjoy having? (If that conversation involves him defending his choice to wear it, skip it.)
- Men mostly wear jewelry that has emotional connections. Purchase jewelry for him that will be poignant and spark his emotions. That may mean an engraving, a birthstone or something else that evokes a shared memory. A representative at Mountz Jewelers would be happy to talk with you about what options may be available in terms of customizing your gift.
- Jewelry gets men noticed. But what will your chosen piece be noticed for? Make sure it’s for the right reasons. If you keep that in mind, you’ll rarely go wrong.