My ring is small, silver metal and only cost me $20. There is nothing to brag about. It has been the topic of hundreds of conversations in the past 8 years due to its location.
This is the power of jewelry – for better or worse, it sends signals about our identity, how we are committing to others, and what status we hold in society.
People will notice when you step outside of the norm. This may be a good or bad thing depending on your goals.
This article aims to help you understand how jewelry is worn so that you can control the messages you send. These tiny bits of metal or stone can have a huge impact on the opinions of those we are trying to get to know. You want to ensure that you send the right visual message.
This is just one man’s view. Different cultures have different views on jewelry.
Four Rules for Men when Wearing Jewelry
1. Keep it simple
Keep it simple when in doubt. A classic silver-strapped leather watch is a good choice. If you are able to afford it and wear it regularly, consider getting a more sporty diving watch with a stainless-steel band. Next, try cufflinks and tie accessories.
Once you feel comfortable with these pieces, you can introduce other pieces of jewelry like necklaces or earrings if you wish.
2. Match Metals
Metallic jewelry is the most popular choice for men. The most popular metals are silver and gold. You should only wear one color of metal in your outfits.
- Gold is warmer and looks, in terms of color wheel, almost like a yellow accent. It is compatible with browns, and other earth tones as well as deep hues such as royal blue or hunter-green. If you are buying multiple pieces of jewelry made of gold, be aware of the differences in tones. Gold comes in many shades and may not match pieces that have extreme tones.
- Neutral are silver and silver-tone metals such as polished stainless steel and chrome. They are grays that fall on the black-to white gradient and read as such. They don’t clash with any other color, but they also don’t offer the same striking contrasts as well-worn gold. For a timeless, elegant look, pair silver jewelry with black or gray clothing. In the summer, you can also wear it with lighter colors without worrying about it overpowering your clothes.
- Copper and bronze have orange-hued metallic lights, and should be treated accordingly. These metals are bolder than silver or gold and should be worn with caution. Copper-tone jewelry can be found in casual clothes. An heirloom copper button ring or shirt button/rivets can enhance a plain trouser or shirt.
- Precious stones should be kept to a minimum. They are like purses, no matter how egalitarian or not. However, they are still feminine to most. One color is all that’s allowed on a ring, or an ear stud. Any more than that would be considered a way to flaunt your wealth or simply plain pompous.
- Turquoise is a bit more unusual for men who choose to wear deliberately Western style. It has become a Southwestern gentleman’s stone. It looks great with jeans and a collared top, whether it’s a ring or bolo tie. It is bright and can be very eye-catching. Wear it in small quantities if you don’t want to draw attention where the stone is.
- Anyone who isn’t in high school or rebellious is likely to find leather too sensitive. It’s best to keep it in natural earth-tones and not with black dyes. Also, avoid wearing ostentatious metal earrings. You must not ride a motorcycle and only then.
- Men’s jewelry is increasingly made from wood and bone, often with reference to different ethnic traditions. They tend to be on the lighter end of the earth colors. Take each case and make sure you don’t wear the jewelry up against another piece that is similar in color, but not exactly the same. To really make an impression, a unique material such as this needs to be a little different.
Wedding bands and heirloom items are the exception to problems of color matching. You can wear your wedding band to any occasion. It doesn’t have to match your other metal pieces. You’ll draw attention to it, but that’s okay. For heirloom pieces, match the metals but assume that the piece is not attention-grabbing (such as a small watch or ring).
3. Understanding Jewelry’s Symbolism
Jewelry is meaningful. This is a fact that you can’t ignore. It takes up only a small percentage of your visual presentation. People are drawn to jewelry because of its flashy and unusual use by men.
Further complicating matters, different people may interpret the same piece or jewelry in different ways. Ornament rings can be interpreted as a symbol of wealth and success. Others see them as a sign of organized crime.
This means that a man must be cautious when wearing jewelry pieces that are not part of the normal. You can easily make yourself look flashy by including non-descript jewelry into your everyday outfit. Jewellery can bring a little color and uniqueness to your outfit. How does a well-dressed man balance his outfit?
- Avoid Ostentatious Styles. This is a difficult point to reiterate enough times. Keep metallic objects small and simple.
- Wear meaningful jewelry. We have already discussed wedding rings. Another accent that can have meaning is a class ring or fraternal insignia. These are great conversation starters and door openers. If you’re meeting potential business partners in Houston, you might wear your A&M class ring if they were from College Station. Perhaps the heirloom cufflinks that your uncle made are a great way to show you care about art and be able to interview artists for a New York gallery show. You should choose jewelry that is meaningful to the context.
- Be aware of when to wear it. Keep your best for big events. I don’t wear jewelry, even though I work in the fashion industry. I prefer simple pieces. When I have an important event, I like to pull out my watch or cufflinks. By bringing out pieces that are more appropriate for special events than everyday wear, they become less status pieces and more festive statement pieces.
4. Jewellery and Dress Codes
Business dress codes may severely restrict the use of male jewelry. This is often stated in a politically correct manner, such as “Men should only wear tasteful jewelry”, but in reality it means that you must conform to the status quo and not break the rules. If you are employed at AT&T corporate, don’t try to wear more necklaces than Mr. T.
The burden of appropriateness rests on the man who wears jewelry. Be aware of this fact and keep your mouth shut when you are in a professional setting. After work, you can still express yourself. Because jewelry is small, it can be slipped into a jacket pocket.
Businesses who require “tasteful”, “modest” or even “appropriate” jewelry are advised to stick with the more traditional “masculine-styled” styles. This applies to tie accents and watches, cufflinks, wedding bands, lapel pins, and cuff-links. Most companies have also added bracelets, earrings and ethnic jewelry to this list over the past ten years.
Even casual outfits can make piercings more difficult than earrings. Even if your colleagues and friends are comfortable with piercing your nose or lips, it can still be a problem for some people you meet-clerks at shops, taxi drivers, etc.
Unfair? Yes, it is, but this is reality unless your city is a friendly one like Austin, Boulder or Portland. You should stick to the accepted standards of male fashion if you want to look professional and trustworthy.
Different types of male jewelry
Below is a list of all the male jewelry I can think of.
Wedding rings – These are a common piece of jewelry that has been around for many years. They are made mostly from gold, platinum, and silver and have a simple design.
Watches – These functional pieces of jewelry are just as safe as wedding rings. They can be worn in any situation except black tie events, but this is a common rule. The more formal the watch is the better. Simple and timeless, a simple black leather strap with a simple silver timepiece featuring Arabic numerals or Roman numerals are both versatile and elegant. For suits and sport jackets metal watches are ideal, while plastic watches and cloth bands should be reserved for casual wear.
Blazer Buttons – A blazer is usually purchased with brass buttons. The man can upgrade the buttons to silver or gold. There are also mother-of pearl and horn options, but the key to the jacket’s distinction is the ornamentation of its buttons.
Cufflinks & Blazer brass button. They can be worn with black tie, while cufflinks can be worn with either double or French cuffs. Metal cufflinks made of precious metals with simple designs are most formal. However, cufflinks that use a novelty design are more casual and can be worn around the office. Younger men love silk knots as a simple option to metals.
Tie accents – A tie accent is a device that keeps your tie in place. You can do this in one of three ways: a tie pin or tie bar. Tie bars are simply strips of gold, silver or another metal that attach horizontally to the tie and hold it in position using the shirt as an anchor. The tie clip serves the same purpose but is not visible. Tie chains can be used to attach a tie to the shirt, but the tie tack accent should be avoided.
Rings – There are many types of rings: class rings and fraternal rings as well as championship rings and decorative rings. While wedding rings are acceptable in most cases, other rings should not be worn in the US. In most cases, class and fraternal rings can be accepted. Championship rings should be reserved for parties with old friends or fights in the back alley. Many of my European friends wear decorative rings. This is a common practice in ethnic groups such as those of Chicago and New York.
What is the maximum number of rings a man can wear? I would say as many as he is able to confidently wear. Most of us have one or two rings, our wedding ring and a fraternal or university ring. This is how we were raised. We aren’t allowed to show off our wealth and success. There are men, especially immigrants and travelers, who can confidently sport 3 to 5 rings without coming off as lazy used car salesmen.
Lapel pins can be decorative, collectible, or indicate a group affiliation. Although lapel pins have existed for over 50 years, recent headlines suggest that they were created by American politicians to show their patriotism. They have a history with China and the USSR, where portraits of communist leaders were worn as a symbol of loyalty. Today, pins come in many shapes, colors, meanings, and designs.
Belt Buckles – Presented to rodeo winners and other contest winners, the trophy belt buckle was a common American West accessory. They are not practical for work, but some people do wear them when dressed up. However, they became more popular in the 1950s due to Hollywood’s acceptance and demand. If it’s a prize-bucket, it should be yours or an ancestor’s. Don’t keep them. You can wear western buckles if they suit your personality and your needs.
Bracelets – Functional, decorative, cause-related and medical alert. For thousands of years, royal men wore ornamental bracelets. But today, cause-related bracelets like Livestrong are more popular. Functional bracelets such as parachute cord bracelets or medical alert bracelets that have a man’s vitals in the event of a loss of consciousness are also common.
I believe that a man should be careful when wearing decorative bracelets. Cause bracelets are a different story. Despite their popularity, cause bracelets are still a great way to spark conversation and increase awareness. Paracord bracelets are great for survival, but I have yet to read a story about a man who survived because of his paracord bracelet.
Earrings are the most popular piercing choice for men. Earrings have seen a greater acceptance over the past 30 years. They are not as popular in big cities anymore, but they are still regarded with suspicion in smaller communities and conservative business. The main benefit of ear piercings is their ability to be removed easily if necessary.
Other Piercings: Nose, eyebrow, and other. The acceptance of facial piercings and the jewelry that goes with them is not widespread. This type of ornamentation can be found in some cities and cultures. However, many Americans view it as rebellion.
Ethnic jewelry – As diverse as the people on this planet, the key to wearing ethnic jewelry is to be aware of your surroundings. What worked in northern Thailand may not work in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. But, you can make your family’s story more memorable with tasteful pieces like tribal bracelets.
Military jewelry – For thousands of years, soldiers have decorated their uniforms with ribbons and medals. This doesn’t dispel my belief that jewelry is feminine.
Religious Jewelry: Prayer beads, rosary beads and medallion necklaces. These items should be worn in accordance to your faith’s teachings. Respect the value others place on these items, even if they aren’t your religion.
Jewelry to Avoid – Grills, anklets, toe rings, belly piercings, engagement rings, armlets.