Men have worn jewelry throughout history, there is literally nothing new under the sun when it comes to trends and jewelry. However, a new cultural wave is taking the world by storm. Diversity and inclusivity are literally on every big company's marketing agenda and when we look at the future by talking to GenZ, we understand that gender isn't set in stone anymore. Genderfluid, we call it. At the same time, men are becoming increasingly more comfortable wearing jewelry. From pearls, to diamonds and everything in between. This opens up a whole new market. Here is why you cannot afford to miss this trend:
From Kenya with love: Adele Dejak
Who hasn’t noticed the pearls on Harry Styles? While he is dressing more genderfluid in each new emerging picture, we observe more and more rich and famous people walking around with fine jewelry. As usual; the creative crowd leads the way. Artists are important to our society, I cannot emphasize it enough. Not because we need to idolize them, but their daring creativity breaks open new paths, makes us look at our surroundings, our reality differently. And when it comes to fashion; they work with top-notch stylists who help singers and actors to express themselves through what they wear. This is where jewelry becomes personal, a way to express yourself, or simply communicate something about your personality, moods or emotions.
Pearl jewelry is just one such trend. Marc Jacobs recently confessed his fondness for pearls and brands such as Mikimoto and Yoko London jump onto the trend with their designs. Rightfully so. We have spent recently a whole article on this topic because pearls really deserve that extra attention and love :-)
Mikimoto and Comme des Garçons left and on the right; Kojima Pearls
Not all men feel the same about fine jewelry. Take the rappers and hip-hop community with their now long-lasting trend of chunky diamond jewelry. Showing what you have, status, and communicating wealth through jewelry is one thing. It's about creativity and expression, but at the same time, it needs to show how well one is doing.
Other people go for the renowned fine jewelry brands such as Cartier or Boucheron (think about the Just a Clou bracelet, for example), easily recognizable and always valuable throughout time. French heritage brands have maintained their position of highly sought after and relevant merchandise, from fashion to bags and jewelry.
We have seen men wearing leather or stainless-steel bracelets for some time now. On and off, from chunky chains such as the Dutch brand Buddha to Buddha and many other fashionable brands, to much smaller friendship bracelets. A rope bracelet with an anchor, you'll find it in almost every men fashion stores.
But what sets this new and rapidly growing trend of genderfluid and men’s jewelry apart is the fact that it’s fine jewelry. Not just hardcore bling, but lovely fine jewelry. Sometimes crossing the line with a more female approach. Unisex was always there, sure! Again, trends don't start from nothing. There were lots of females and males wearing unisex watches and unisex clothes and jewelry for decades. And don't forget the roaring 70s and 80s either. With disco diva's of both genders and punk and goth showing a more genderfluid approach richly often decorated with ornaments and jewelry.
Just fun: Beepy Bella
For the past 100 years (and more) women have fought for their rights. Those battles, for which I as a woman am deeply grateful, have led to more and more equality. Even if we are not there yet. On the other hand, men are experiencing the same thing and boundaries are constantly questioned and expanded. All these cultural influences have created a more fluid approach to fashion, beauty and jewelry.
Tiffany managed to reach the headlines with their latest jewelry: engagement rings for men. And when I read it, my first thought was: of course! Perhaps some brands thought of it before, but Tiffany has the reach and potential to bring it as a break-through moment. And I love them for it. The rings do look stunning and when we look back in time it might feel unbelievable one day that engagement rings were just for women. My first impression was that it aims at gay couples, but why shouldn't a hetero couple want to buy an engagement ring for a man either? Let's open our minds. Having said that, it's pushing boundaries to allow people to feel ever more comfortable to express themselves. My partner would never wear jewelry and that is fine too, but my son cherishes his friendship bracelets given to him by his former classmates and by other people who care about him.
Uber classic and always cool: Just a Clou bracelet in 18kt gold by Cartier
Diamond brands are jumping on board the diversity and inclusivity train too. When I wrote a blog almost two years ago about inclusivity and diversity the jewelry industry hardly understood this trend, but today they are all falling over each other grasping the opportunities it brings for their share of the market. Rightfully so and I hope that it will lead to an explosion of creativity!
Maybe here and there I get the feeling of non-authenticity that I also get from brands that flirt with sustainability (but really are greenwashing) or hiring diversity models for their marketing campaigns when it’s not really the brand’s culture -yet. But there you go; a little out of place here and there should not stop us from understanding that brands are eager to win over the male and genderfluid jewelry consumer.
Zancan jewellery from Italy, a pendant in gold and diamonds. Bulgari BZero1Rock unisex jewelry collection, Tomasz Donocik and Hannah Martin
And hopefully, they’ll understand too that there is also a whole market of females who don’t necessarily love jewelry that is too frilly or cute or elegant, but love that in-between-style. The focus may be a little too much leaning into the male community and the genderfluid style of males, but again; there are enough females out there that love a more no-nonsense approach. Moreover, how lovely would it be if this isn’t just a superficial adaption of a trend? How much more joy and feeling accepted and safe on the work floor, would it bring if jewelry companies make diversity and inclusivity part of their identity, of how they conduct themselves with employees and customers? Harvard Business Review spends a lot of attention to this subject, if you like to dive into it a little further.
"Boundaries are met and broken. We see that this creates friction and where there is friction, there are openings and opportunities for new ideas, new paths!"
Cool story: this is Johnny Nelson who creates jewelry today and is an active Black Lives Matter activist. He translates his activism in jewelry: these rings are from the Women's History collection and represent Harriet Tubman, Shirley Chisholm, Sojouner Truth and Ida B. Wells. In the middle: a male model featuring jewelry by Kenyan jewelry artist Adele Dejak and right: Pharell Williams shows us how to be utterly cool
If you are a brand that focuses on jewelry for women, and you would like to jump aboard this trend, the first thing you need to do is keep in mind size. Can you produce longer bracelets? Can you produce bigger sized rings? It’s a practical challenge to create jewelry for both sexes (and everything in between).
Harry Styles and Steve Tyler. Different generations, both comfortable wearing jewelry
I loved this necklace by London designer Julia Guinness with the text: 'Fucking Beautiful'
My GOLDEN tip would be to hire a stylist, someone who doesn’t think jewelry, but sees the whole picture.
Jewelry in general should understand much more than it does now, how much a stylist could do for them. By creating looks and coordinating styles they are key to making it easier for your clients to understand how jewelry could be worn, how you create a look, a style with jewelry. How to wear it in a way that matches their ideas of fashion and again; style.
A stylist should fit the brand, yet be a little more edgy than your brand is today. Why? This way your brand is sure that it will crawl out of the comfort zone and come up with something different.
You can’t miss this trend. Whether you are a consumer who loves to stay current and cool, or someone who produces or designs jewelry as a professional. Certainly, it’s not an obligation to add men’s jewelry in a collection if you are a niche brand or a goldsmith with a small collection. But if you are aiming at a larger audience and long also to gain the attention of fashion publications or stylists, then this is a trend you cannot afford to miss!
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Tiffany's engagement rings for men