Masculinity and jewellery have always had an interesting but complicated relationship. Not dissimilar to the ever-changing skirt length debate endured by women, trends in men’s jewellery have fluctuated encompassed very broadly under the influences of fashion, social acceptability and wealth. For example, take a look at some of the more well-heeled gentlemen of the Renaissance and, although intended to be symbolic of wealth and, therefore, social status you will see displays of jewels, necklaces, rings, and earrings, that would have been deemed effeminate and cause for concern in post-World War II Britain. Edging closer to the mid-1970’s and men’s jewellery once again demonstrated itself as a popular item, as long as it was long, gold and held a medallion displayed on a thick mat of chest hair, reeking of masculinity, it was acceptable.
But it was a part of the youth culture that emerged with the beginning of the punk movement that men’s jewellery once again moved into the forefront. Once again, men pierced their ears and not just once but multiple times, and not just their ears. Dog collars were worn, chains and chunky rings, all very masculine and all intended to be very threatening. The New Romantic movement of the early 1980’s turned notions of masculinity upside down. The Dandy was back. Men wore makeup, coloured their hair and dressed effeminately in flounces, diamonds, and lace that would have made Liberace feel right at home.
Since this time trends in men’s jewellery have remained fluid. Directly influenced by youth culture, but also as a result of more widespread sexual attitude, men no longer have to worry that their jewellery choice reflects their sexuality.
Although maintaining a sense of masculinity, men’s jewellery trends for 2017 reflect this fluidity, with a display of watches, bracelets, rings, chokers and necklaces.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and the amethyst body piercing displayed at the Cottweiler Fall/Winter 2017-2018 is just that, placed just above the naval it encapsulates the sexuality of the erotic belly dancer but challenges with its placement on a bed of masculine belly hair.
Also traditionally considered to be a female adornment, chokers for men were featured as part of Wales Bonner’s neo-tribal jewellery collection exhibited as part of Menswear Week. Pearls and crystals combined into tribal patterning give a masculine twist to gemstones traditionally considered part of the feminine domain.
Bracelet trends for 2017 are definitively beaded. Reminiscent of the wooden beaded bracelets acquired on many a Mediterranean holiday, this style of bracelet has a distinct summertime feel. Nialaya Jewellery has produced a range of bracelets based on this style. With the utilization of gemstones such as black onyx, turquoise, and tigers eye, they have created bracelets with beads worthy of individual interest and also in possession of a very masculine feel.
Christian Koban’s Shambhala Diamond bracelet provides conclusive proof if any were needed, that diamonds aren’t always for the girls. Although intended to be unisex, the darkened sterling silver balls and 14.6 ct brown diamonds are distinctly masculine and the black cotton adjustable enclosure further develops this impression.
Forty or so years ago, there was very little choice in terms of rings for men – the large black opal being the maintain stay. The ring trends of 2017 see a return to this style of ring, only this time the rings are chunkier, rougher and now, thankfully, there is a greater variety of stones set within them. Tom Woods Oval Ring with Lapis stone is a variety on a similar theme, only this time the unique patterns contained within the lapis give the ring extra interest.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there is Henson’s Ruby Mine ring, the setting of the ring is still the same, and it still has the same chunkiness, but with a small ruby placed within the inside edge of the ring it challenges the ostentation of the large black onyx that was its predecessor.
As demonstrated by Wales Bonner’s neo-tribal choker there is a definitive tribal feel to men’s jewellery in 2017 and this is present not only by the utilization of contrasting gemstones and tribal pattern but also in the reintroduction of the feathers. Ann Demeulemeester’s Choker Ribbon Necklace is intended as a unisex item and it is little wonder, with its black satin ribbon and choker of crystals and pearls you have the illusion of a totally feminine piece, but the simple addition of a feather alters the look completely as it shifts from feminine to tribal warrior.
The watch has always been the definitive masculine accessory – no well-respected gentleman wishing to ever be seen without one. Watches have changed very little over past thirty years. The traditional numbered clock faces have disappeared, only to return again. Faces have been round, oblong, square and rectangularly. They have been marble patterned, lit and unlit, all with a seemingly innumerate number and style of watchstrap. Of the new introductions in watch design trending in 2017, two really stand out.
The Grecian Border Watch by Versace with its gold and diamond Grecian border is the very epitome of quality and class.
The Christian Koban ‘DOM’ collection of watches are highly individual pieces. Each set face set with 820 brown diamonds, they’ll be soon setting trend themselves.
Men’s jewellery trends for 2017 are a contradiction. Being both traditional and challenging, by presenting the creation of the new and the borrowing of the old, they continue to turn previous notions of masculinity on their heads.