The Magpie Effect


Men's jewellery has long been much maligned, with less-than-positive stereotypes such as chav chains, bling & nightclub Lotharios setting men's jewellery back decades.

However, recent trends have emerged with men's jewellery becoming one of the fastest growing sectors in the jewellery industry and designers and brands are scrabbling to tap into this increasingly lucrative market.

For those who don't know, I work for probably one of the best known jewellery companies in Northern Ireland as their online merchandiser. It's up to me to make sure the site looks good, the products are in the right place & at the right price and that we are ahead of, if not setting, the trends for our competitors.
I also run the company's social media channels, write & edit for their blog and am also part of the buying team; selecting products and sourcing brands.

I started working in jewellery kind of by accident. I had just left college on what was supposed to be a gap year and needed a job. A school friend of mine was managing the local branch, needed a full-time sales assistant and the rest is history (I prefer legend). So for pretty much the past 10 years, I've been advising people on what jewellery to buy, what suits them, what is the latest trend etc and I've been quite good at it.

But here's the thing; I don't really wear jewellery myself... *gasp*

Now, this is not to say I don't love and buy it, I just can't seem to find the courage and self-confidence to wear it. Jewellery is all about confidence. It is, at its core, unnecessary. An artificial beauty enhancer. But it's the emotional connections we make with jewellery that captures the imagination, obsession and passion of so many people - me included. I guess it's the "magpie effect"

So I thought I'd do a little research on men's jewellery habits and see how other guys are wearing their
pieces and maybe get some borrowed confidence to raid my own jewellery box (I say jewellery box, it's a biscuit tin under the bed).

For many men, their jewellery collection consists of a watch, some cufflinks they were bought (these are like socks, I've never bought them myself), a ring (wedding or otherwise) and wristwear: beaded bracelet you bought on hols, curb chain your gran bought you for your 18th (guilty) or a leather cuff you picked up.

Why do we limit ourselves to these? Over the past few years it's been hard to miss the fact that while there is a definite split in men's wear direction: preppy v streetwear; both have embraced bold colours, graphics and print. If we're experimenting more with our clothes, why not with our accessories?

There is a golden (geddit?) rule to remember: You are not Johnny Depp. You are not Russel Brand (although he barely is anymore). You are not David Beckham. But this does not mean you can't borrow from them or be inspired by them and how they incorporate jewellery into their own unique looks.

Within my collection I have pieces from companies such as Pandora, brands who do not market to men. But if you like it, it suits your style and want to wear it, why deny yourself? Designers such as Chlobo, Stephen Webster & Thomas Sabo have all branched out into men's jewellery; most taking inspiration from Gothic & rock imagery

Here's a look into my jewellery box:

Rings: Although I have a few, these never get worn. I don't like how rings look on my hands - I think they're quite feminine and therefore don't suit a broader band. That said, I've kept these rings for the sentimental value. I bought the widest ring with money given to me by my grandfather on my 18th birthday.

Necklaces: Necklaces are a tricky look to pull off. Depending on your build, look and attitude, your necklace can look amazing or really out of place. I have a costumey bit from Topman (the plain cross) something I made (the key) and a sterling silver abstract cross made by an old work-colleague. The costume bits are kept for when I'm brave enough to wear them and the abstract cross is kept as it's a one-off gift.

Watches: I'll admit it; have a bit of an obsession. Now a real watch collector throws thousands of pounds on timepieces by the likes of Rolex, Tag Heuer or Patek Philipe; the most expensive watch in my collection is about £130. I've said before on this blog I'm not really swayed by big labels (mostly because I can't afford them) so I tend to buy watches for their versatility and for the fun they can add to my look.
I have a Casio-dependency; they're light weight, come in a huge variety of colours and you can pick them up for under £15 on Amazon. I have 2 digital, one in yellow and one in what is supposed to be grey, but more of a hearing-aid beige. A black analogue I got for 5EURO on hols in Spain last year - they were trying to sell fake versions for 8EURO and finally a massive green G-SHOCK I got for my 18th birthday & I've never had to replace the battery.
I also have pieces by Bering (new favourite) ToyWatch, Guess, Alessi, Fossil, Boccia and Storm. The only thing missing is a brown leather strap watch. I never wear black shoes so it is a bit strange to only have black strap watches. I plan to rectify this soon. I like having a choice of watch; it's an easy way to change the attitude of an outfit.

Bracelets: Bracelets are probably the largest part of my collection. I have quite slim wrists in comparison to my body (I'm referred to as the "EveryWoman" in the office as I have the average woman sized wrists for trying on samples) so don't suit a heavy metal or broad cuff. But I do love a mixed stack. Women have been rocking these for ages and I think a bracelet stack is a fun, casual way of introducing jewellery to your look without spending too much money or thought on it. Pretty much anything goes: metals, beads, leather, friendship bracelets, gig wristbands...
Some of my favourite pieces are:
  • Antonio Ben Chimol Panama bracelet. A simple brown leather band with a sturdy magnetic clasp. Antonio Ben Chimol has possibly the best quality leather used in jewellery I've ever seen
  • Nomination: I fell in love with this brand when I worked in the stores. A lightweight, adjustable steel bracelet that sits perfectly alongside a watch, but can be customised by adding links with varying emblems or designs. Mine is in gunmetal, but they are also available in stainless steel. I've also got one of the new Steel Ikon & You Cool bracelets from Nomination, fun masculine pieces.
  • Tiger's Eye beaded bracelet: I picked this up in a street market in Hong Kong for about £4. I love Tiger's Eye, it's earthy colours are quite masculine, but when the light hits it, you get a brilliant Schiller effect across the stone.
Opinions may still be divided on men's jewellery, but I hope I've swayed a few of you to add a little something extra to your next outfit with a carefully considered piece.

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