U.S. Men Now Wearing More Jewelry – Welcome to the Party Guys!

man wearing rings jewelry

The New York Times ran an intriguing piece this week on the uptick in consumption of Jewelry by American and European men. I can’t speak for our brothers across the pond, but it doesn’t take a sleuth to see that dudes here are wearing more jewelry today than they were a few years ago. Rings, Bracelets and Cufflinks have made a killer come back  — which can be evidenced by the anecdotal fact that I ran into my mechanic (the scrubbiest, non-metro, manliest man I know) at dinner with his fiance last week (in a part of Western NJ that might as well be a wormhole to Kalamazoo) and he was sporting a pair of blue guilloche enamel links -with jeans no less.

I’m sure there’s a dozen reasons why jewelry has resurfaced as an “acceptable” male accessory, but we’ve got our own take on it. Consider the fact that in many cultures men regularly wear jewelry that might be considered too feminine in the West (just take a long hard look at the hands and wrists of your male Indian friends and acquaintances). And that’s really the crux of the issue, isn’t it? We Westerners have been putting jewelry and femininity in the same box for decades. But things they are “a’changin” my friend.

The later 90’s to early 2000’s rise-of-the-metro-man combined with: continued growth and progress of the women’s movements; the mainstreaming of what were formerly American subcultures (hip-hop culture, gay culture); and the ever present desire to push boundaries – have all come together to soften our collective projection of Western maleness.

cutesy guys

 

 

Assuming you’re in the “art imitates life camp”, just look at the 21st century’s Hollywood leading male heroes — Chris Pine, Ryan Gosling, Zac Efron, Ryan Reynolds — all cutsie-bootsey boyish heroes that wouldn’t hold a flame to the rough masculine heroes of yesteryear (epitomized by the likes of Bogart and perhaps Eastwood) — but we love them and keep flopping down $20.00 a ticket to see them save the world. Why? Because we can live with the idea of a hero who isn’t 100% manly-man 24 hours per day. (Consider the evolution of Clancy’s  Jack Ryan from Baldwin to Ford to Affleck to, you guessed it, Pine.)

In addition to undoubtedly saving countless American men from feelings of inadequacy (except perhaps for that whole abs thing), this increasing comfort with softer masculinity allows Western men to wear some jewelry without fearing the repercussions they might have suffered a few decades ago. The reluctance to wear jewelry (other than the obvious personal preference) stems from a fear of appearing less-masculine, but if we live in a world wear its acceptable (if not desireable) to appear less masculine, but still be a man, then there’s no risk to the wearer. In fact. many would argue that wearing jewelry is simply an expression of how comfortable you are with your own interpretation of masculinity.

Now, that’s not to say we expect to see your average Joe flaunting pearl lavalieres anytime soon, but keep your eyes peeled just in case. In the meantime, welcome to the party, guys, and take a look at the hundreds of pieces of vintage men’s jewelry we’re currently offering. (as a welcome gift – use the code “MENS18” to take 18% off any men’s item in our Etsy store – now through June 1, 2015)

Shop Men’s Jewelry on Ebay

Shop Men’s Jewelry on Etsy

 

Victorian Jewelry – Victorian Brooches

Brooches Top

It’s time for Victorian to come back into style! Keeping with that, we hope to do a short series on Victorian Jewelry and are going to begin with brooches…..

The Victorian Era ran during the reign of Queen Victoria of England and is generally acknowledged as covering the years 1835 to 1900 (though Victoria’s coronation was in 1837 and she passed in 1901). A number of styles and cultural trends influenced the jewelry produced during this lengthy period and it does not fit neatly into any single box.  Among the many influences are the following:

  • Romanticism – a carryover sentiment from the reign of the Georgian Kings. People were reaching back to the “good old days” when romantic knights errant traveled the English countryside doing good deeds for chivalric purposes.
  • Ancients – Archaeology was becoming an obsession. Etruscan, Classic Roman and Egyptian treasures influenced the design of jewelry. Think Scarabs, Roman Dangle Earrings, Intaglios.
  • Mourning – with the Death of Victoria’s husband (Albert) in 1861, the Queen went into permanent mourning and was fittingly dubbed the “Widow of Windsor”. Mourning jewelry became more popular. Think hair pins, carved black jet, black enamel, mini-portraits of passed loved ones.
  • Industrialization – we learned to make things with machines….including jewelry. Pieces that once took a skilled craftsman hours upon hours to craft could now be cranked out in a series of parts that needed only to be soldered together. Jewelry came to the masses.

Enough history… let’s look at some brooches:

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Early Victorian Solid Gold Brooch with Pearls and Diamonds. Quite “Romantic” with some carryover Georgian elements. We sold this piece in September.

This is a classic early Victorian Mourning Brooch. The brooch is crafted from solid yellow gold (somewhere around 12K). The gold is quite thin and the piece was maintained and repaired for many years by the original owner. It was plainly very dear to someone. The beveled glass front protects….wait for it…a woven mat of human hair that was gathered from the dearly departed before burial. By wearing the Brooch, the surviving relative, lover, friend etc., was able to literally “keep a piece” of the deceased next to her heart. While it has a certain morose quality to it, one can’t help but appreciate it as a memento of lost love. Still for sale.

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This in an early Victorian Solid Gold and Amber Etruscan influenced brooch. It is really quite spectacular. We sold it to a lovely woman from Toronto last year. The amber is slightly crazed but it has a magnificent yellow glow.

This next piece is a mid-Victorian silver filigree circle brooch with a dangle ball in the center. We’ve never seen one quite like this before and certain exactly what to make of it. Initially, I suspected it may have been Scandinavian, but a knowledgeable collector of Scandinavian jewelry disabused me of that notion, rather abruptly (sorry!). Still for sale.

  

We love these later Victorian punched brooches. They incorporate early machine stamped pieces with gentle hand engraved details. They were affordable at the time they were produced and remain affordable as collectibles today. They’re easy to date because they are usually fully hallmarked as are both of the pieces pictured above. All for sale.

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