Jewelry can be a confusing topic for men. Some men think they should not wear jewelry, period. Other men are interested in jewelry but do not know how to approach the subject. If you belong to the former camp, just know that in 2020 there is noting unmanly or inappropriate about men wearing jewelry. If you belong to the latter, in this article we will tell you all you need to know about jewelry for men.
Jewelry is a great way to add a personal touch to your style. It gives you an edge and a flair that your clothing alone cannot give. It can add just the right dash of color to your personal palette. Wearing the right jewelry can also make you more remarkable and serve as a great conversation starter. In this day and age, there is no reason for a man to shy away from jewelry.
When it comes to jewelry for men, just a few simple rules apply. Keep your jewelry simple. Match metals – do not mix gold tone with silver tone, for example. Know your gemstones. Be aware of jewelry’s symbolism. And wear the right jewelry for the right occasion. There are 13 pieces of jewelry any man should consider: rings, bracelets, necklaces, wedding bands, cufflinks, tie accents, watches, blazer buttons, shirt studs, lapel pins, belt buckles, earrings, and money clips.
Interested in knowing more about this fascinating side of jewelry? You have come to the right place. The staff here at American Tungsten has done the hard work on your behalf and compiled the ultimate guide to jewelry for men.
For the rest of this article, we will go over the above jewelry rules for men in more detail. Then we will look into those 13 pieces of jewelry one by one. By the end of this article, you will be knowledgeable enough about jewelry for men to make informed decisions in buying and wearing them. Without further ado, let’s get started.
5 Simple Rules For Men When Wearing Jewelry
When it comes to jewelry, you are the ultimate arbiter. The right jewelry is the jewelry that suits you. After all, it is your style. You get to decide what works for you and what does not. Having said that, there are a few simple rules that can help you navigate the world of jewelry for men more effortlessly. Let’s look at them in more detail.
Keep It Simple
If you are unsure about what jewelry to wear, keep it simple. Avoid jewelry that is overly ornate or opulent. Simplicity has an understated elegance in and of itself.
Start with the conventional choices of jewelry for men such as a watch, a ring, or a tie bar. For example, pair a tungsten ring with a titanium dive watch, or a stainless steel tie bar with a sterling silver lapel pin. Go with pieces in classic or minimalist styles without excessive decorations. Pieces that are too flashy can easily overwhelm your look. Remember, you should be wearing the jewelry. The jewelry should not be wearing you.
After you feel more comfortable with these conventional pieces, you can start to experiment with less traditional types of jewelry for men such as necklaces, bracelets, or earrings. You can also try out styles that are edgier or more elaborate. While keeping it simple is the rule, sometimes the occasion calls for rule breaking rather than rule following.
Jewelry metals can be classified into 4 major tones: yellow, silver, gray, orange. The jewelry you wear together should feature the same metal tone. Avoid mixing metals of different tones. For example, do not wear a gold ring and a stainless steel bracelet at the same time as the former has a yellow tone and the latter has a silver tone.
An exception to this color matching rule applies when it comes to wedding bands. You should always be able to wear your wedding band, metal matching or not. So feel free to wear your yellow gold wedding band with a silver bracelet. Just don’t go too crazy on the color palette. The “Keep It Simple” rule still applies.
Let’s look at the 4 tones in more detail.
Yellow toned metals include gold of various karats (10K, 14K, 18K), bronze, and brass.
Metals with yellow tones like these are considered a “warm” metal. They go well with clothing in earth tones such as brown, olive, and burgundy. They also look good with the more classic menswear colors such as navy blue and charcoal gray.
Since these yellow toned metals tend to be attention grabbing, make sure you do not wear too many of them at the same time. For example, a gold wedding band and a gold tie bar would be okay, but any more yellow toned jewelry on top of those two would start to make it look too flashy.
Silver toned metals include sterling silver, stainless steel, chrome, platinum, palladium, and white gold. Compared to yellow toned metals, silver toned metals are more understated and modern. You can wear them with any colors. Pair them with black jackets and white shirts for that sleek, minimalist look.
With silvery jewelry, you can go with designs that are more ornate than usual without looking like you are trying too hard. A silver gothic style pendant is a classic. So is a silver Victorian ring. Silver is the safest jewelry tone to experiment with. So go and experiment.
Gray toned metals include titanium and tungsten. Gray metal jewelry looks understated and modern just like silver jewelry does. On top of that, it is also the most masculine of all jewelry metals. Gray toned jewelry is perfect for men who “do not wear jewelry.”
Gray metal jewelry looks best in an unembellished style. Try an unadorned minimalist tungsten ring or a hammered titanium ring. They go well with any clothing, but particularly well with traditionally masculine items such as distressed denim jeans or lumberjack shirts. They also look good with tailored clothing such as charcoal suits or navy dress pants.
Orange toned metals include rose gold and copper. Orange toned jewelry is bolder even than yellow toned jewelry, so wear it with moderation. Go easy on decorations and embellishments. Orange toned jewelry looks especially good in the vintage style.
The orange tone is a warm color, it goes well with clothing in earth tones but also neutral colors such as black, white, and gray. Try pairing a vintage rose gold watch with a charcoal gray sports jacket. Or a copper bracelet with a pair of sand khaki pants.
Know Your Gemstones
Gemstones are a key part of jewelry. They add colors and flair to jewelry. Some gemstones like ruby can also carry an air of mystique.
When it comes to gemstones, stick to the “Keep It Simple” rule. Just keep in mind that you do not want too much color. For example, a dark gray tungsten ring with a blood red ruby is a great color combo. You could even add a few colorless diamonds to the mix and it would still look good. But add any more colors and you would start to look like a Christmas tree. So while a gold bracelet with a red ruby and a green emerald and a blue sapphire and a violet amethyst might sound amazing on paper, in reality, it is just going to make you look like you are trying too hard.
Besides color, also pay attention to the variety of gemstones. In general, gemstones are classified into 2 categories: precious and semi-precious. There are only 4 precious gemstones: diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald. Everything else is considered semi-precious. Precious gemstones are typically much more expensive than the semi-precious ones.
Let us take a look at these 2 categories of gemstones in more detail.
As their name implies, precious gemstones are the most valuable gemstones. High quality natural precious gemstones can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per carat.
An alternative to natural precious gemstones is lab grown gemstones. Lab grown gemstones are real gemstones just like natural gemstones but cost significantly less. Lab grown gemstones also have the added advantage that they are usually of higher quality and have fewer flaws than their natural counterparts.
- Diamond: Diamond is the precious gemstone. It is the most common choice for wedding bands and engagement rings. While diamond is best known as a colorless gem, it also comes in various colors including steel gray, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink, purple, brown, and black. Natural diamonds are expensive, with prices ranging between $2,000 and $100,000 or more per carat. Lab grown (synthetic) diamonds are cheaper but still costly, ranging in prices from $800 to $2,000 or more per carat.
- Ruby: Ruby is best known as the red gemstone. There are also pink rubies available. Good quality natural rubies can go for between $2,000 and $50,000 or more per carat. Lab grown rubies are a more affordable alternative, available for less than $100 per carat.
- Sapphire: Sapphire is best known as the blue gemstone. It also comes in other colors including violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and multi-colored. Natural sapphires range in prices from $2,000 to $20,000 or more per carat. Good quality lab grown sapphires can be purchased for less than $200 per carat.
- Emerald: Emerald is known as the green gemstone and it comes in green only. Natural emeralds range in prices from $500 to $20,000 or more per carat. Lab grown emerald is more affordable, available for less than $100 per carat.
The table below summarizes the information about the 4 precious gemstones.
The Four Precious Gemstones
|Best Known Color||Colorless||Red||Blue||Green|
|Other Colors||Gray, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink, purple, brown, black||Pink||Violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, multi-colored||None|
|Price Per Carat – Natural||$2,000 – $100,000+||$2,000 – $50,000+||$2,000 – $20,000+||$500 – $20,000+|
|Price Per Carat – Lab Grown||$800 – $2,000||Less than $100||Less than $200||Less than $100|
Every gemstone that is not one of the 4 precious gemstones is considered semi-precious. The more common ones include onyx, agate, amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, hematite, jade, jasper, jet, obsidian, peridot, tanzanite, topaz, turquoise, tourmaline, and many more.
In general, semi-precious gemstones tend to be less expensive than precious ones. For example, natural onyx can be had for less than $10 per carat, much less than the prices of natural precious gemstones.
Semi-precious gemstones come in all sorts of colors. For instance, onyx is famous for being the black gemstone (but it also comes in other colors including brown and yellow.) Amethyst is known for its purple or violet hue. Aquamarine is pale blue. The variety of colors is countless.
Learn About Jewelry Symbolism
While most jewelry pieces are mainly stylistic elements, some also carry deeper meanings. It is good to wear jewelry to add flair to your style, but it is even better to wear jewelry that conveys meanings and significance. Wearing meaningful jewelry is also a great way to break the ice and start a conversation.
Symbolic jewelry comes in many different types:
- Religion: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc
- Culture: Native American, Celtic, Indian, etc
- Association: school, military, fraternity, etc
- Relationship: marriage, engagement, etc
- Heritage: heirloom jewelry
The table below is a summary of some of the more popular symbolic jewelry as well as symbols found in jewelry.
|Signet Ring||The history of signet rings dates back 4,000 years to the Late Bronze Age in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Ever since then, they have been worn by men to denote association or heritage. They are rings with engraved symbols or letters to represent family, organization, rank, or personal initials.|
|Class Ring||Class rings are a type of signet rings. They are typically engraved with the emblem of a school.|
|Military Insignia||Military insignia denote association with the military branches. They can also convey military ranks. You can find military insignia on rings, bracelets, necklaces, cufflinks, and more.|
|Cross||The cross is the best known symbol of Christianity and one of the most recognizable religious symbols in the world. In Christianity, the cross is a symbol of redemption, atonement, and protection against darkness. The cross is also used in alternative cultures such as goth, punk, and biker.|
|Ankh||The ankh (“the key of life”) is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol. It has a cross shape but with an oval loop in place of an upper bar. It is a symbol of life itself.|
|Lotus||The lotus is a famous icon in Buddhism. It represents purity of the body and mind, above material attachment and physical desire. The Buddha compared himself to a lotus, saying that the lotus flower rises from the muddy water unstained, as he raised from this world free from its defilements.|
|Celtic Knot||The Celtic knot is a prominent symbol of the Celtic culture. It has no discernible beginning or end. As such it is a symbol of timelessness and longevity. It is also valued as a protection charm against the setbacks in life.|
|Dream Catcher||In Native American culture, the dream catcher is capable of catching bad dreams while allowing good dreams to glide down to the person sleeping below. In jewelry, the dream catcher symbol is used to promote positive thoughts and protect against negative emotions.|
Pick The Right Jewelry For The Right Place And The Right Time
Just like the clothes you wear, the jewelry you wear should be appropriate for the occasion. This is especially true for your workplace. If you work in a conservative environment such as banking or law, do not wear earrings or anything flashy to work. Limit your work jewelry to the most traditionally masculine types: wedding bands, tie accents, watches, lapel pins, cufflinks, and money clips. Leave your more adventurous jewelry for other occasions.
At the same time, there is such a thing as overdressing in jewelry. If you are going to a casual gathering with friends, you might want to leave your shirt studs at home.
Always remember, the right jewelry for the right place and the right time.
13 Easy Pieces: Masculine Jewelry For The Modern Man
When it comes to jewelry there are many options for the modern man. The following 13 pieces are all great choices to add to your collection.
Rings are the oldest type of jewelry for men. Signet rings have been worn by men since the times of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. There are also class rings, military rings, fraternal rings, and masonic rings. The varieties are endless. When you wear these types of rings, you should understand the meaning and symbolism behind them and be prepared to talk knowledgeably about it.
When it comes to materials, gold or sterling silver is the classic choice for rings. For a more modern and masculine look, go with a gray toned metal such as tungsten or titanium.
As for design, keep it simple. A plain, unadorned metal ring will always look stylish. You can also go with signet rings engraved with your initials or your school’s emblem. If you would like gemstone inlays, limit them to one or at most two colors.
Bracelets used to be a big no for most men. How time has changed. Nowadays it is no big deal at all for a man to wear bracelets. Still need convincing? This video offers 5 great reasons:
- Bracelets are a great conversation starter
- Bracelets can be practical – for example, ID bracelets and health bracelets
- Bracelets can be used as a signaling mechanism for wealth and status, particularly outside of the United States
- Bracelets can convey meanings and signify your culture.
- You wear bracelets because you like them. It is that simple.
If you are starting out on bracelets, try a stainless steel or tungsten one in a minimalist style. They are understated and they are masculine.
If you are already wearing a watch on one hand, try wearing your bracelet on the other hand for a more balanced look. And do not forget to match metals. If your watch is rose gold, opt for a bracelet in a similar orange tone, such as a copper bracelet.
Necklaces are another type of jewelry many men are still shying away from. There is really no reason for that. Necklaces can be very masculine (Marine dog tag necklaces anyone?)
It does take some forethoughts when it comes to wearing necklaces. Keep your necklaces simple and classic. Avoid those that are too thick, too thin, or too long. Try a short, medium weight sterling silver or stainless steel cable style necklace with a small pendant. Make it meaningful if you can. For example, opt for a pendant with spiritual or cultural meaning such as a lotus or an ankh. A pendant engraved with your initial or your school emblem is another good choice.
When it comes to necklaces, you might want to keep gemstones to a minimum. One or two stones are fine. Anything more than that and you are pushing the boundary of good taste.
Wedding bands need no introduction. You should always wear your wedding band if you are a married man. Don’t worry about matching metals with your other jewelry.
Traditionally, gold, silver, or platinum wedding bands are the classic choices for men. But these days, your options have greatly expanded. The video below goes over 5 alternative materials for wedding bands that are stylish and masculine.
- Titanium: Titanium is masculine, durable, and more affordable than the traditional gold or platinum used for wedding bands. In addition to its natural gray finish, titanium wedding bands are also available in other colors such as gold, silver, and rose gold.
- Tungsten: Just like titanium, tungsten is masculine and durable. It is more weighty than titanium and that gives tungsten wedding bands an extra gravitas that wedding bands made from titanium or carbon fiber lack. Tungsten looks great in a minimalist design.
- Silicone: Silicone wedding band is hypoallergenic, flexible, and super comfortable. Not to mention it looks sleek and modern. It is also very affordable. A silicone wedding band is perfect for a man who works with his hands or who cannot wear metal rings at work. It is also great as an alternative wedding band for those times when you do not want to get your metal wedding band scratched.
- Damascus Steel: Damascus steel is hand forged and has a grainy wood finish that is unique to each ring. This wedding band is great for men who appreciate history and is not afraid to be different.
- Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber is the most lightweight material on this list. It is also very durable and scratch resistant. It has a high tech matte finish that stands out and goes with any color of clothing you might want to wear.
Cufflinks are one of the most traditional types of jewelry for men. They require shirts with French cuffs. It used to be that cufflinks were only worn on formal occasions. Today that rule has been relaxed. It is now perfectly acceptable to wear cufflinks in a playful context.
Metallic and gemstone cufflinks are great for formal settings. Try a pair of gold and black onyx cufflinks with a charcoal gray suit for a day in the office or a fancy dinner. For more casual occasions, there are novelty cufflinks. A pair of fish or bee novelty cufflinks would look great with a pair of indigo raw denim jeans and a plain white cotton shirt.
Tie Accents – Tie Clips, Tie Pins, Tie Bars, Tie Chains
Tie accents serve the functional purpose of holding your tie in place and stopping it from dipping into your food during a meal. They also have the added benefit of looking dashing on you. They are a great way to add an edge to your outfit without being too ostentatious.
If you are starting out on tie accents, try a tie bar. A plain gold or steel tie bar would look great on any tie. Avoid too much bling. A black onyx inlay on your tie bar is good. Any more than that and it could quickly become too flashy.
The proper width of a tie bar should be about half of that of the tie. For proper placement of the tie bar, set it between the 3rd and 4th shirt buttons from the top.
If you are thinking about getting your first piece of jewelry and do not know where to start, start with a watch. Watches are the most acceptable type of jewelry for men. The technological and mechanical nature of watches also makes them uniquely masculine among all jewelry.
Watches can be classified into 3 groups based on their movements: quartz, automatic, and mechanical.
- Quartz: The first quartz watch was created in 1969 by the Japanese watchmaker Seiko. Quartz watches are powered by battery. They are more accurate, more durable, and less expensive than mechanical and automatic watches. Most quartz watches sell for less than $500. You can easily find quartz watches for less than $100. Well known brands of quartz watches include Swatch, Fossil, Skagen, and Casio G-Shock.
- Mechanical: Mechanical watches are the oldest type of watches, tracing their root back to the 16th century in Europe. Their movements are made up of hundreds of small parts powered by a mainspring that needs to be wound by hand regularly. Mechanical watches are significantly more expensive than quartz watches, costing thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars each. As a result, they are generally seen as a mark of prestige and a status symbol. Well known mechanical watch brands include Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.
- Automatic: Automatic watches are like mechanical ones, made up of small mechanical parts. But instead of being powered by a hand wound mainspring, automatic watches are powered by the kinetic energy from the natural motion of the wearer’s arm. As a result, they are often called self-winding. Automatic watches are also more expensive than quartz ones, costing hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars each. A well known automatic watch brand is Rolex.
In addition to their different movements, men’s watches also come in different styles. The following are some great iconic styles that any man interested in watches should consider:
- Dress Watches: Dress watches have a thin body and a simple, uncluttered dial. They are sleek and sophisticated, designed to be worn at dressy occasions. They go well with suits and dress shirts. High end dress watches are typically made with precious metals such as gold, rose gold, or platinum.
- Dive Watches: Dive watches are bulkier than dress watches. They are often made from high strength metals such as stainless steel or titanium. They are designed to be water resistant up to 100m or more. Famous dive watches include the Rolex Submariner and the Citizen Promaster.
- Pilot Watches: Pilot watches have a large dial, legible numbers, and luminous hands to ensure easy reading even in a dark cockpit. There is an oversized winding crown designed to be easily operated by a gloved hand. The bezel has extra markings to function as a flight computer to calculate things like fuel burn and wind correction angles.
- Racing Watches: Racing watches have a high contrast dial to ensure easy reading at high speeds. There is a chronograph to function as a stopwatch to track lap times. The bezel has a tachymeter to carry out speed calculations.
When you buy a blazer, you can replace the buttons that come with it with aftermarket buttons. These aftermarket buttons can serve as an unusual type of jewelry for men. They are a great way for you to stand out. Go with plain gold buttons if you want a classic style. Opt for a set of antique silver and black onyx buttons for a more vintage look. Choose engraved buttons for more pizzazz.
You should only wear shirt studs for black tie or white tie events. Any other occasions and you would be overdressed. When you do wear shirt studs, try matching them with your cufflinks.
Metal shirt studs such as gold or silver will always look classy. Add black onyx inlays for a little extra edge.
Lapel pins can be purely ornamental or they can be symbolic pieces used to indicate the wearer’s affiliation with an organization or a cause.
For ornamental lapel pins, try rose gold or silver ones in the shape of a flower or other whimsical objects.
For symbolic lapel pins, your options are limitless. Some of the more popular types include:
- Political Lapel Pins: to show you affiliation with a political party or your support for a particular cause
- Military Lapel Pins
- School Lapel Pins
- Religious Lapel Pins
- Fraternal Lapel Pins
The tradition of wearing belt buckles as jewelry pieces is an integral part of the American West culture. Feel free to wear these ornamental belt buckles if they match with your personal style. Try to keep it simple and avoid gemstones or too much bling.
While earrings are the most acceptable piercing for men, they are still considered inappropriate in some conservative environments. So avoid them at work if you work in fields like banking or corporate law.
When you do wear earrings, keep it simple. Try a pair made from plain metals such as silver or copper. Keep gemstones to a minimum.
Money clips are more stylish than regular wallets. They also form less of a bulk in the pockets of your jackets or pants, resulting in a cleaner, sleeker silhouette. For a classic look, go with an unadorned 14K gold money clip. For something more modern, try a titanium or carbon fiber one.
In this article, we have covered a lot of information about jewelry for men. By now you are well equipped to make informed decisions about what jewelry to buy and wear. Before you start your shopping, let’s do a quick recap.
- Jewelry is a great way to add a personal touch and an edge to your style. It is also a great ice breaker and conversation starter
- Nowadays, it is perfectly acceptable for men to wear jewelry
- When you wear jewelry, pay attention to 5 simple rules:
- Keep It Simple: Go for understated elegance instead of flashiness
- Match Metals: Avoid mixing metals of different tones
- Know Your Gemstones: Precious vs. semi-precious. Natural vs. lab grown
- Learn About Jewelry Symbolism: Make your jewelry meaningful
- Pick The Right Jewelry For The Right Place And The Right Time: Wear the appropriate jewelry for the occasion
- Consider adding these 13 pieces of jewelry to your wardrobe: rings, bracelets, necklaces, wedding bands, cufflinks, tie accents, watches, blazer buttons, shirt studs, lapel pins, belt buckles, earrings, and money clips.
Aside from your skin tone, the type of chain you buy also has a lot to do with how it fits with your outfit. For instance, if you have pale or fair skin, gold would go best for you while silver would be best for those with olive skin.For most men, chains should be between 1.5 and 4 mm wide. They are very versatile and can be worn almost anywhere.
The question of whether men are more attractive if they wear jewelry is a bit more personal. In most cultures, it's assumed that men do look good in jewelry if they wear it right.A good size for a man is usually a chain necklace that's 50 centimeters long and has a width of about 2-6 millimeters. If you're planning on adding a pendant, look for a similar size but with a shorter chain.
Wearing jewelry constantly can damage it, but according to health expert Dr. Mary Jo White, it's not as dangerous as sleeping and showering.Should Men Wearing Gold chains be a No-No? The answer is yes, they are very versatile and can be worn almost any style.
Most men's chains are short at the collar bone. If the chain is worn with a cross or dog tag, a slightly long length may be suggested.Men around the world wear rings on their left-hand fingers. The concept of the left hand is associated with mental activity and is considered the act of activity.
The middle finger is a great finger to wear rings on as it lets you say all the talking for you. It's usually worn by men who are bold and sophisticated.A man should generally keep his jewelry to a minimum, and should wear a maximum of three pieces. Two of these should be worn as a wedding band or a bracelet.