Gender bias jewelry

Hey Karen: Interesting post; the amount of jewelry bought by or for
women versus men is something we all have to be aware of in
determining our product mix.

Overall I think it safe to say that women enjoy shopping more and
wear more jewelry than men. Thus it makes sense to carry more jewelry
for women than for men. I do, but I also carry more men’s jewelry
than most retailers do, due to the fact that there’s less competition
and selection of men’s jewelry in most jewelry stores.

I’ve been selling more cufflinks, money clips, and key chains this
past year, but mostly stick with the basics–bracelets, necklaces,
and rings, as well as simple stud and hoop earrings. Based upon what
I see men wearing and get requests for, very few men where lapel pins
or tie tacks.

I myself rarely wear jewelry (a fact commented on by both employees
and customers) and practically have to force myself to put some on
before going into the store. Why this is I’m not exactly sure!
Although I appreciate interesting designs and quality fabrication,
personally I don’t enjoy shopping. As a man A) I don’t feel the
desire to beautify myself by adornng my body with jewels, B) think to
do so would be superficial and superfluous, and C) there are other
things I’d prefer to do with my money.

Thank goodness everyone is not like me or I’d be out of business!!!


Jewelry for men is a subject I’ve thought about often. There’s still
such pressure from society for men to not wear too much jewelry, even
while other aspects of what’s considered proper for men have relaxed
(like fashion and cosmetic procedures).

There’s always rings, but the only times I’ve even seen a man
wearing alot of jewelry, it was always on a relatively large man,
usually a bit eccentric-looking (long hair, beard, etc.) and it was
always chunky silver-and-turquoise Native American jewelry: big
rings, cuff bracelets, bolo ties. For some reason, a man can get away
with wearing large amounts of Native American jewelry, but it still
takes a certain kind of guy to pull it off. For teenage boys, you may
have noticed, it’s acceptable to wear something like a puka-shell
choker. It’s a surfer thing. And that’s about it.

The area where I could imagine a designer could get pretty creative
would be cuff links. But I don’t even own a French-cuff shirt and
don’t know anyone else who does. And then there’s body jewelry for
piercings; but with that, it’s more about the piercing than the
jewelry. Other than that, men have very few choices. Even with a
necklace, the choices are very restricted: a chain, or maybe a tiny
pendant (usually religious) for younger men. I tried wearing one of
my own very small pendants (see my website) but my wife vetoed it,
saying it looked too feminine (she’s wearing it now instead!). I
usually wear a watch, a bracelet, and 2 or 3 rings, but I can’t say
for sure if any of it really works on me. But I don’t care; I love

I envy women jewelry designers because they can advertise their own
work by wearing it everywhere! Maybe someday, men will get to wear
their plumage again, but for now we have to stick to plain-ness
unless we want to cause a commotion.


  Maybe someday, men will get to wear their plumage again, but for
now we have to stick to plain-ness unless we want to cause a

Alan, Yes! Cause a commotion! Think of buttons too, not just

What I love are the stories about the special pieces of jewelry, the
one with stories and memories. My Dad wore a jade ring that he
bought at an antique store and he wore that every day until he died.
He found out that ring had an interesting story behind it of
deception and the mafia.

I make jewelry for teenage boys who love to wear jewelry. I think
it is all in the marketing. And if teenage boys like to wear
jewelry, then wouldn’t that be a good market to target in this
depressed economy?

Karen Christians
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Ph: 781 937 3532
Fx: 781 937 3955
email: @Karen_Christians
Board Member of SNAG

Hey guys, don’t forget wonderful, attention-getting belt buckles !


...the only times I've even seen a man wearing alot of jewelry, it
was always on a relatively large man, usually a bit
eccentric-looking (long hair, beard, etc.) and it was always
chunky silver-and-turquoise Native American jewelry: big rings,
cuff bracelets, bolo ties... 

Hi again,folks. Well, I wasn’t going to take up any bandwidth with
this thread, but being a relatively large (6’2", 210lbs),
eccentric-looking (waist-length hair, Van Dyke salt & pepper beard
and tattoos down to my knuckles) man, I thought I’d give the world
an idea of what the ill-dressed (I prefer shorts and T-shirt, too),
eccentric-looking man wears as jewelry these days.

On my left hand ring finger, I wear a small, antique cluster ring
with nine Old Mine Cut diamonds. Now, diamonds are certainly not my
favorite gemstone, but the thought of a person, probably somewhere
in Africa, cutting these old stones with a jam peg, likely operated
by “man-power” really appeals to me. On my right hand ring finger, I
wear another Old Mine Cut, approximately 1.15ct in a nugget-style
ring that my father had made, many years ago. Occasionally, I’ll
wear another ring with a sun/moon motif, also set with diamonds. In
my left ear are two piercings, one with a captive bead tiger’s-eye
drop, the other with a tiny silver captive bead skull. My right ear
has three 14k gold hoops, progressive in size.

As a pendant, I wear a triangular piece of Andamooka opal. I
received the rough from my mentor, who passed away last year. It has
a natural black base and a very large harlequin pattern. Please, no
posts about Andamooka opal treatments; an opal with a natural black
base can only be described as an opal with a natural black base! I
wear this pendant always, and occasionally, will wear others with
it. Since they are spiritual in nature, I never wear them exposed,
as they are for my own comfort and not for display. One is a very
long, oval pietersite that resembles a cloud with a thunderstorm,
set in 14k gold bezel. Another is a piece of Tampa Bay coral, black,
resembling a whale’s fluke, wirewrapped in 14k GF. A bear claw in
14k bezel. A badger claw bezel set in .925 with a small opal, also
bezel set with gallery wire (and strung on a leather thong, no
less). A grouse foot in .925. A freeform boulder opal drop in 14k
and, last, but not least, a tie tac (on VERY rare occasions, and
used with a silk tie that has a skull motif) made from a nice piece
of Lightning Ridge material (yeah, it’s black base, too). I haven’t
worn a watch since I retired from the military…if I need to know
the time, I check my cell phone.

Except for the rings, I wear things that have something about them
that I cut, assembled, or fabricated, or things that were handmade
with some artistic or other appealing aspect, much like Mike Kelly
mentioned. The average person has no idea what an Old Mine Cut
diamond even is, much less how they were cut. Nor would they
understand what it means that the 1.15ct OMC has four naturals
(three on the girdle, one on the culet), as far as efficient diamond
cutting goes. I wear each item for its intrinsic value, not for
fashion. I mentioned that most of my pendants are spiritual in
nature. Mine runs mostly toward the Native American aspects. But,
even though I don’t wear Native American design, much of what I DO
wear is totemic in nature, thus I wear them inside my shirt, not

So, judging from most of the posts to this thread, most men seem to
wear items that mean something to them, not as fashion statements.
Although, with men’s makeup, TV shows like “Queer Eye for the
Straight Guy” etc., who knows what’s on the horizon? For our
international friends, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is a new TV
program here in the USA where 5 gay men give a makeover to a
straight guy. Whoever figures out the first blockbuster item in
men’s jewelry will be the next “Fortune 500” member. Some of the
brown moss agates look very masculine…


I think Clyde makes an excellent point- men are wearing more, and
more interesting jewelry. It’s also nothing new, just a return to a
norm. Look at the history of jewelry, and this business of men who
only wear a wedding ring is actually pretty recent. Until the mid
nineteenth century men who could afford it wore all kinds of neat
stuff, including the classic pearl drop earring. A lot of the shiny
goodies aren’t used anymore, sword hilts, shoe buckles, ect., stuff
that was usually jeweled or at least decorated. Men in lots of good
jewelry is a return to the norm, historicly. Enjoy it, guys.

I also know that every guy at my ex husbands law firm was wearing
french cuffs 'tiil 1990, when I walked out. So was I, then went to
art school and cufflinks were a hindrance and the laundering was
impossible ;-). Women have been doing cufflinks since at least the
late 19th cent., probably as long as men. My 87 year old great aunt
just gave me her collection, which includes matching cufflink and
earring sets. Here in New Orleans men still wear evening dress a lot-
thats tails, not a dinner jacket. You see a lot of arty gold knots,
but every once in a while somebody trots out the family heirloom big
rocks on their shirt studs, his freinds call him a pimp and ask
where the mink coat is, but we know they’d wear big ole diamonds if
they had 'em ;-).

So gender bias in jewelry is relatively new, and going away again.
Be glad, it’s good for business.

Lizzy Claiborne

This has become such an active thread and so much fun I’ve got to
join in. If it helps to mention the young fellows’ tastes, I’ve a
14 year old grandson who loves wearing pendants and sometimes beads
on leather or rubber. Seems all his cronies do as well. Am hoping
he will be interested in working up some design ideas with me to
advise and help. Then, at the other end of the scale, my 70-something
husband very much enjoys wearing a tie-bracelet I created for him,
of his favorite Florida game-fish (Snook) in silver. After that, he
asked for a lapel pin that could include a Mexican fire opal I
bought down there and he looooved the color of. He doesn’t wear it
often - just when he’s in the mood and has an occasion suitable. Now
he has added a very significant pendant on a gold snake chain and
since early this year has had to add a small container of
nitro-glycerine - both under his shirt usually, being personal. He
used to wear a ring until it burned a pattern on his finger after
contacting electrical current working on a friends boat. Now, only
the gold wedding band that you’d think would have worn thin by now -
48 years without removal. I think guys who are afraid to wear
jewelry ought to re-think their positions. You’re never too old to
do that you know.