Posted on August 25, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
Antonia Centeno, contributor at The Art of Manliness, wears his wedding band on his right ring finger. Even though, as he reports, the ring is a fairly modest piece, its placement often sparks conversation. He writes, “That’s the power of jewelry–for better or worse it sends signals about who we are, what commitments we have made, and our status in society.” Indeed, whether we like it or not, jewelry isn’t just for the wearer. It’s a silent conversation between the jewelry itself and anyone observing the wearer and his jewelry choices.
The same is true for women, of course, but there are arguably more jewelry options designed specifically for women—so many options, in fact, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for women’s jewelry. The opposite may be true when it comes to men’s jewelry, however. When my husband and I were looking for a wedding band for him, we were discouraged by the lack of imagination and the dearth of truly fine pieces for men in the general jewelry market. (Fortunately, we had more luck when we dug deeper and looked for independent designers.)
The search process got us thinking about what features to look and what considerations to keep in mind when shopping for men’s jewelry--especially if you’re looking for something classic and timeless—but with a modern or personalized touch. We found the following guidelines to be helpful. Ultimately, each point comes down to Centeno’s notion that our jewelry sends a message about us. Economic status aside, jewelry should be an extension of your personality, your aesthetic, and your interests.
1. Think long and hard about your metal choice. When you’re investing in a piece, you want it to flatter your skin tone. This quick guide to choosing a metal that flatters your skin tone may prove helpful. Also, consider what color of metal you normally wear (if you wear other jewelry—watches, necklaces, cufflinks…).
That being said, don’t be afraid to mix metals. Although wearing a single metal at a time makes for a simple and streamlined style, mixing metals is no longer considered a major fashion sin, especially if the mixed metals in question are artfully integrated in the same piece. This somewhat edgier, more modern option certainly sets the wearer apart from the crowd.
2. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, work with a jeweler to create a custom piece. Once you’ve decided on a metal, collaborate with a jeweler to create a piece that reflects something you cherish about your background or personal interests. For example, my husband, a medieval literature scholar, decided on a wedding band featuring a knot-work design that appears in The Book of Durrow, a Celtic psalter dating back to the 7th century.
Celtic-inspired men's wedding band.
Your family’s cultural origins may also provide inspiration for ring customization. Does your family have a family crest? Does your ethnic group have a distinct aesthetic or traditional patterns that hold special importance for you?
Finally, if you want your ring to have a personal touch, but you much prefer a simple, unadorned look, consider a getting a hidden engraving. The inside of a ring or the back of a tie clip are only visible when you’re not wearing them.
3. Find a meaningful connection to your piece—consider the tradition behind the piece as well as the ethos behind the brand creating it. Buying a wedding band or cufflinks? Spend a few moments learning about the tradition behind these pieces. For example, did you know that wedding bands may date as far back as 2000 BCE Egypt? For ancient Egyptians (and many other cultures), the band symbolized eternity—a symbol that’s stayed with the piece for millennia, unironically.
Likewise, consider the ethos behind the brand or jeweler you’re working with. For example, Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry is committed to producing jewelry as sustainably as possible. A deep care for the natural world is apparent in the brand’s choice of materials (like recycled precious metals) as well as several of its designs. Finding a brand with an ethos that appeals to your values will make the jewelry shopping/customization process all the more meaningful.
What are your tips for choosing men's jewelry?
You may also be interested in:
Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry, Elizabeth Scott Photography