by MIKE CHAIKEN
If you’re seeing more bling around the necks, wrists, and fingers of men, you’ve just spotted the hot fashion trend.
“Men want jewelry,” says JewelryRise.com, a website operated by Signet Jewelers, the parent company of Zales, Jared, and Kay jewelers. “Men wear jewelry…studies show men are outspending women on apparel and accessories.”
John Sullivan, owner of Sullivan’s Jewelers in Middlebury, said he is seeing a definite uptick in interest in jewelry for men in 2019.
And you can thank music performers and television actors for that trend, said Sullivan.
East Hartford’s Tyron Harris, the designer for Traveling Gentlemen’s Boutique, said the interest in men’s jewelry is growing. Harris, whose line creates cufflinks, tie clips, lapel pins, and bejeweled bowties, said, “A lot more fashion houses like Marc Jacob, Alexander McQueen and Louis Vuitton are incorporating bracelets into their lines and magazine spreads.”
Sullivan agreed the number of designers showing interest in men’s jewelry also has contributed to its newfound popularity.
And, Harris said, the trend is not confined to one particular generation.
“I’ve even seen Baby Boomers and traditionals wearing bracelets, lapel pins and tie bars,” said Harris, whose accessories are sold in department stores like Macy’s.
But Sullivan said generational ground zero for men’s jewelry is those shoppers in their 20s and 30s.
However, Connecticut fashion personality Alex Zarlengo said if millennials are buying jewelry. They aren’t reaching for precious gems and metals.
“Millennials are overworked, underpaid, and have been famously accused of killing several industries, and particularly ‘not buying diamonds,'” Zarlengo said. “(P)eople in my generation have turned to more eclectic and vintage pieces, rather than some of more traditional fare.”
Rosemary Cullen, store manager of David’s Jewelry in Watertown, said the interest in men’s jewelry is not vigorous across all generations. Cullen said her clientele tends to be more middle-aged. If they are buying jewelry, it tends to be the more traditional pieces such as crosses on chains and watches.
For David’s, said Cullen, the interest in men’s jewelry peaked more 30 years ago when gold horns, bracelets, and rings were in.
Sullivan, who has been in business for 31 years, said those men buying jewelry today are buying stacked necklaces and bracelets.
“Men’s bracelets are an increasingly sexy accessory for any casual or formal style,” said Harris. “The bracelets bring a new look to your fashion and they make you feel good.” Harris said people are wearing one or many bracelets together, which helps individualize the look.
Connecticut fashion personality Carlos Herrera, who is a fan of wearing as many bracelets and necklaces as he can, said an increasingly non-binary approach to fashion in general has helped make men’s jewelry more acceptable and more popular.
In 2019, said Herrera, it’s no longer frowned upon for a man to wear a “big old chain or… something more dainty.”
“Jewelry has become part of the culture,” said Herrera, who hails from New Haven.
“I personally go shopping for women’s jewelry, but I go for a more neutral look,” said Herrera, who describes himself as androgynous.
“The fashion world — on runways, or among particularly stylish circles- has definitely become less rigid when it comes to gender,” said Zarlengo, who is based out of Hartford. “Almost anything goes.”
“But in the commercial world,” said Zarlengo, “Jewelry is still heavily relegated to men’s and women’s gender stereotypes quite definitively.”
“Go to Tiffany & Co.’s or any other major retailer’s website,” Zarlengo said, “the only things available for men are largely tie clips, money clips, cufflinks, and watches.”
“Rings are especially strict,” said Zarlengo. “Rings for men are often of heavy metals, black lacquer, and overly simplistic with industrial lines, whereas womens’ tend to have a lot more options when it comes to design, color, stone choice and detail.”
“Personally speaking, if I were to have a blind shopping spree at a place like Tiffany & Co. I wouldn’t settle for their men’s jewelry,” said Zarlengo. “I would go right for the biggest, most ornate expensive bauble in the store and wear it with jeans and a T shirt for emphatic effect.
For his own fashion aesthetic, Herrera said, “I feel jewelry is a definite must in my outfits.”
When Herrera wants to be less “out there in the spotlight,” he said, his jewelry will reflect that, becoming more subdued. But when he wants the attention, he said, “I’ll wear more, and more gaudy and bigger.”
“Within my circles,” said Zarlengo, “I see jewelry from all styles, genders, cultures and influences. I find myself at fashion events and there are no lines when it comes to using jewelry for self-expression.”
For men looking to tap into the trend toward jewelry, Harris said, “The best advice that I can give … is to keep things super simple.” Make sure what you wear fits your particular style, said Harris.
With men’s jewelry, said Herrera, “You can take something as plain as a t-shirt and a pair of jeans, throw on some jewelry, (and the outfit) turns into something awesome, where you can walk it on the runway.”
The fashion experts say jewelry helps carve out one’s unique identity.
“(Jewelry) gives the gentlemen confidence to showcase their individuality,” said Harris.
“Like clothing, decorating, and other aspects personal style,” said Zarlengo. “Jewelry is just another layer of self-expression. It can say a lot about you, and it’s all up to taste.
When one is shaping their fashion identity, said Herrera. “Jewelry is the icing on the cake.”
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN