Men are taking style seriously, and their focus doesn’t end with clothing. Jewelry is becoming the accessory-of-choice for men who want to express their individual style and personality.
While the jewelry trend is still far from matching its female counterpart, it continues to grow, particularly among Millennials.
In fact, Millennials are driving men’s jewelry sales in the United States today, generating half of the growth in this burgeoning category, with Generations Z and X following their lead, according to the market research firm NPD Group.
Instagram and Snapchat are among the factors influencing the growth of men’s style, with young men gleaning their style cues from social media, as guys show off what they’re wearing in the selfies they post.
Moreover, fashion’s focus on gender fluidity is producing more “genderless styles” opening up the options even further, particularly in bracelets, bands and neckwear.
“Jewelry is an opportunity for a man to reflect his own personal style,” says Cynthia Speight, marketing manager for IBGoodman in Newport, Kentucky. “Of course, younger men like the casual ease of leather bracelets and expressive pendants. As men become established, and depending on their field of work, they will seek accessories that reflect their success.”
What Men Want
It’s an exciting time for the men’s jewelry category with more options to choose from than ever before.
Embracing color, men are exploring a wide range of gemstones, including tiger’s eye, lapis, labradorite, sodalite, and agate, even lava rock and naturally occurring materials like wood in inlay designs and beads. Men also are drawn to precious stones — rubies, sapphires and diamonds, particularly in smoky colors from cognac to black.
“Men are drawn to darker colors, patterns and rugged textures,” cites Cora Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield Ohio.
Stylish options in alternative metals, most notably stainless steel (brushed, polished and black IP-plated) are popular for men, as well as women, with Quality Gold’s Chisel brand a favorite, Colaizzi says. “Top picks for men this year are modern stone, leather and steel bracelets in link and cuff styles.”
Silver remains a preferred metal for men that pairs well with leather and gold, gem inlay and beads, and diamonds in accessories that are easy to wear. Speight declares braid patterns, box links, and mesh hot looks in silver. She also notes that leather is a versatile material in thin wraps and wide woven constructions. Men too are embracing yellow and rose gold, alone or set with diamonds and an array of materials from gem inlay to ceramic and enamel.
Men have adopted the stacking trend in bracelets, mixing different textures and materials for a laid-back vibe — ranging from statement-making Cuban and curb links to relaxed leather cord and metal cuff designs. “Stack a few, but don’t overdo it,” Speight advises.
Among the breakout trends for men is the signet ring, a classic favorite with a personalized monogram or symbol. “Color stones elevate the signet shapes and are on-trend for men,” adds Speight, noting that tiger’s eye, turquoise, onyx, sapphire, red agate and ruby are popular.
Neckwear also is receiving more attention with men. Gem-inlay pendants, amulet-type medallions, and dog tags are popular styles on chain or leather. Speight cites pendants as an easy look for men. “Dog tag styles continue to be favored, as the shapes are refined and details enhanced.” She sees wood, stone inlay, and oxidized metals important in this category.
Not only are charms in a renaissance with women, men too are wearing them, including inspirational medallions, monogram designs and astrological symbols, often hung together or layered. Speight cites anchors, wings, and compasses among the reoccurring motifs that resonate with men. Chains worn sans pendant are also styled in multiples with mixed metals.
According to research by the trends forecasting firm, The Futurist, men’s jewelry has a ways to go to match men’s watches in terms of sales and visibility. Wristwatches remain the go-to luxury accessory for men.
But it certainly says something about the excitement the men’s jewelry category is generating when a watch brand like Bulova launches its first full collection of men’s jewelry.
The brand hails the collection a return to its jewelry-making roots, with the pieces inspired by its leading timepiece designs — Precisionist, Classic and Marine Star. Bulova introduced cuff links, bracelets and pendants that incorporate its distinct branding elements in both the design and functionality of each piece. Designs feature stainless steel, genuine leather, carbon fiber, and gems like lapis, tiger’s eye, black onyx and lava rock, as well as diamond accents.