Men are wearing jewellery and luxury houses like Cartier are taking note

Actor Kieran Culkin, wearing lots of jewellery, as seen on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2019. Men have begun wearing more jewelled bangles, cuffs and rings - and jewellery houses have taken note.
PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/TheEllenShow

Of all the compelling characters on television right now, Roman Roy in Succession is perhaps the most compulsively watchable.

Played by Kieran Culkin, Roy is the youngest and possibly the least scrupulous of a mostly scruple-less media family. You won't see it on the HBO show, but Culkin really knows how to accessorise.

The actor's stacking masses of jangling beads up his arm, in the manner of a beatific and mesmerising shaman or summer camp counsellor, caught the attention of social media when he appeared on US talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show a few years ago.

And, as evidenced by his appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in November – where he wore several black rings and beaded bracelets – jewellery remains a passion of his.

Paired with his sharp black suit (and sharper wit), the look speaks to a shift in how men wear fine jewellery.

Mainly, they're wearing more of it – and not just the usual combination of a watch, wedding band and occasionally a family crested signet ring.

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Maxim De Turckheim, senior buyer for luxury watches and jewellery at Mr Porter, says the men's luxury retailer has experienced exponential growth in this category.

"We have seen a rapid rise in customer interest in men's jewellery at Mr Porter, especially over the last six to nine months across our key regions. Our growth of brands this year has been over 200 per cent," says De Turckheim.

Culkin at the 65th BFI London Film Festival in October 2021. PHOTO: WireImage

Mr Porter recently launched its first fine jewellery campaign showcasing pieces, some of them exclusive, from brands such as Elhanati, Suzanne Kalan, Maor and Ole Lynggaard.

Celebrity men have certainly led the charge when it comes to men frosting themselves.

In recent years, there's been Harry Styles with his penchant for pearls, Jason Momoa in crystals, Jaden Smith in double chain chokers and Timotheé Chalamet (recently appointed a friend of the house at French luxury jewellery maison Cartier) in stacks of rings.

Maxim De Turckheim is a senior buyer for luxury watches and jewellery at Mr Porter. PHOTO: South China Morning Post 

This year Tiffany & Co. launched its first engagement ring for men featuring a solitaire diamond.

The Charles Tiffany Setting is named for the blue-blooded jewellery maison's founder Charles Lewis Tiffany (who in 1886 introduced women to the diamond solitaire Tiffany Setting).

If you can take your eyes off Beyoncé and the famous 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond in the new Tiffany & Co. ads, you'll notice Beyoncé's husband, Jay-Z, is sporting one of the new engagement rings in the campaign, as well as Jean Schlumberger's Bird on a Rock brooch, refashioned as a pair of one-of-a-kind cufflinks and a glinting Apollo brooch in platinum, yellow gold, and diamond pinned to his tux.

Roman jeweller Bulgari is another luxury maison catering to men, particularly with unisex additions to its coveted B.Zero collections that have black ceramic detail and chunkier chains (which on its website are modelled by men and women).

Tiffany & Co. Charles Tiffany Setting diamond rings are designed for men. PHOTO: Tiffany & Co. Studio 
The Paspaley Pearls Dive Chain ring is designed for men. PHOTO: Paspaley

Australian pearl purveyor Paspaley Pearls recently launched its first piece aimed at men within its new Dive collection (inspired by the divers who explore Australia's remote Kimberly Coastline in search of pearls).

The Dive Chain ring, crafted in black rhodium and white gold around a yellow gold band, nods to the ropes and chains of the pearling vessels.

"Dive by Paspaley is inspired by the divers that we have at sea, who've been doing this for generations. It felt right to have a ring dedicated to a man," says Christine Salter, the company's creative director (and a third-generation Paspaley family member).

"This decision is underpinned by [how] men's contemporary fashion has embraced pearls in recent years … We have noticed with the popularity of pearl jewellery among men, more are coming into the boutique or shopping for themselves online."

De Turckheim says the boom in fine jewellery for men also reflects how men are embracing individuality and self-expression in fashion more generally.

"As men become bolder in their fashion choices with the freedom and confidence to express their individuality, they want to make an impact and impression with their jewellery, buying multicoloured stones, diamond, and black gold pieces," he says.

The interest in jewellery, by its nature sentimental and precious and, if made well, intended to be treasured forever, speaks to a values shift too.

Pieces from Bulgari’s B.Zero collection. PHOTO: South China Morning Post 
Tiffany & Co. Charles Tiffany Setting diamond rings are designed for men. PHOTO: Tiffany & Co. 

"In recent years, our global clients are investing more in long-lasting items, seeking those pieces with true craftsmanship attributes from both established brands and those they may have not heard of before," De Turckheim says.

"Sustainable practices and ethically sourced materials are becoming a more common request, which we support via our Craftsmanship Code – adhering to a set of principles championing craft, local communities, responsible manufacturing and sustainable materials, and allowing consumers to make a more informed and conscious purchase," he adds.

"Choosing fine jewellery is also a conscious choice made by many customers; they prefer to invest in precious metals that last for a lifetime, and perhaps become an heirloom, and thus reduce waste."

A Jumbo Rainbow Multi-Stone Bracelet from Californian brand Shay, available on Mr Porter. PHOTO: Mr Porter

As for the most coveted pieces? De Turckheim says signet rings with symbolic imagery such as those from Foundrae, as well as mixed metal pieces from brands such as Maor and Spinelli Kilcollin, are selling well.

A Jumbo Rainbow Multi-Stone Bracelet from Californian brand Shay, just launched on the site, retails for €34,000 (S$52,600) and sold out instantly.

How to pick, and wear, your men’s jewellery

If you're still unsure about what to take out of the jewellery box, De Turckhaim suggests thinking about your approach to fashion, be it minimalist, maximalist or somewhere in between, and starting from there.

"One of the easiest ways to add a little flair to an outfit is with a touch of jewellery. For fine jewellery, the first thing you need to decide on is which type of material you would like your jewellery to be primarily made of – sterling silver, gold, titanium, or even leather and of course stones, which are super popular.

A Foundrae signet ring, available on Mr Porter. PHOTO: Mr Porter
Harry Styles, wearing a pearl earring, attends the 2019 Met Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. PHOTO: WireImage

"The tone of your jewellery has largely to do with your usual dressing style – silver is more subtle, and gold is the bolder choice . Start experimenting with smaller, basic pieces and work your way up to the big leagues," he says.

"A cuff or bangle can be a starter piece for one's jewellery collection, as it is a daily piece of jewellery that you won't have to worry about pairing up with your outfit or other jewellery pieces. The Possession cuff from Piaget or Gold Cuff from Laud are great minimal pieces to start with.

"A simple, everyday chain from Fernando Jorge or Maria Black are also good investments, as they can basically go with anything. You can also start small with a sleek ring on your index finger, like a small gold band from Maor or a signet ring from Seb Brown.

"In short, don't be afraid to accessorise; just remember with jewellery, usually less is more – and wear what makes you feel comfortable."

Or you can make like Kieran Culkin and simply pile it on.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.

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