Men’s jewellery could justifiably be seen as the problem child of the industry. While a band of outliers may exist, the majority of men are not frequent wearers or self-purchasers of jewellery.
Aside from a single ring, often a wedding ring, men are traditionally more likely to go down the watch route – if they decide to wear any accessories at all, that is.
This has been the case for many decades now, with only the occasional small ripple suggesting there could be an untapped potential for retailers. Through the last year or two, however, some larger waves have indicated that things may be about to change for the better in the segment.
Harry Styles, Timotheé Chalamet, Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith, Dev Patel and even Brad Pitt are just some of the trendsetters whose catwalk and red carpet looks have been inspiring consumers to purchase men’s jewellery in the last 24 months.
The notable rise in male celebrities donning everything from the eternally popular leather bracelet to delicate drop earrings has inspired many brands to launch their debut men’s collections of late, with end-customers catching on fast.
“Even big brands are tapping into this market now”
“For us at Gecko, the men’s jewellery segment continues to grow,” says the brand’s general manager, Ruth Johnson.
Meanwhile, Unique & Co founder, Daniel Ozel, chimes in: “Sales for our men’s collection increased even last year, despite Covid.”
But if Ozel thought last year was good, 2021 has blown it out of the water, with the brand’s recent Father’s Day sale performing 118% better than in 2020.
He adds: “The men’s sector is definitely a growing market. Even big brands are tapping into this market now.”
‘Big brands’ is correct. Tiffany & Co became one of several major jewellery players to release its first ever men’s engagement ring collection this year.
While it would be easy to dismiss the idea of men being proposed to as anomalous or a flash in the pan, the data says otherwise.
UK bespoke jewellery brand Taylor & Hart revealed research that shows Google searches for men’s engagement rings are up a massive 69% compared to just last year.
Furthermore, British men were the third most likely in the world to be on the receiving end of a proposal – whether by a female partner or as part of an LGBTQ+ relationship.
Kate Earlam-Charnley, design director at Taylor & Hart, revealed that she first worked on a ring for a woman wanting to propose to her boyfriend a few years ago and has not looked back. “I really believe the industry should be embracing this new normal,” she commented in June.
Stephen Webster, founder and creative director of his eponymous brand, has also noticed the growing interest in men’s engagement rings, and has acted accordingly, growing his already significant men’s range.
“Recently we have seen that men’s jewellery is going through a renaissance,” says Webster. “Never have men been more interested in a piece of jewellery that signifies being legally bound to one person, and from our experience this doesn’t have to be a ring – it could be a pendant or bracelet.
“We don’t feel the lack of weddings has affected this. If anything it has encouraged it, as men have had more time to think about what they want.
“Men have become braver in their style which has been reflected in the engagement rings we have created – from black diamonds to spinning-centre stones, the design opportunities are endless.”
Meanwhile, back on the day-to-day pieces for men, the leather bracelet seems to have remained the most popular style.
Ozel says, “Still, bracelets and wristwear are the bestsellers,” while Johnson adds “leather bracelets are some of our current bestsellers”.
Dutch brand iXXXi, however, which has just expanded into the UK, has its own iXXXi Men range which takes the leather bracelet to a new level with its ‘multiple leather bracelets’. “With this design,” says Webster, “it looks like you are wearing multiple leather bracelets but it’s one design.”
Ozel hopes that the growth of the segment in recent years will continue. “We are still at the beginning of this and there is much more potential,” he opines.
“Retailers need to give it more attention and space in shops. It’s a good way to differentiate themselves from competition and it not only targets male customers but gets women through the door too as they are looking to buy for their male partners.”
Speaking to the future of men’s jewellery and where the segment could go from here, Gecko’s Ruth Johnson, reveals: “There is huge potential within the men’s jewellery market.
“With up-and-coming trends and the endless possibilities of making sustainable pieces there is and always will be room for growth. While men’s jewellery may not ever be bigger than women’s jewellery, we are sure one day it might be equal.”
Men’s jewellery is enjoying something of a resurgence at the moment, with many brands making their first foray into the market so as not to lose out. Simon Wolf, managing director of jewellery and watch storage specialist WOLF, however, claims that his brand has long been prepared for this shift.
In conversation with Professional Jeweller he reveals: “Men’s jewellery has been evolving as of late thanks to style icons such as Harry Styles and we couldn’t be more delighted.
“We’ve been ready for this renaissance for quite some time with an unmatched collection of pieces including watch boxes with drawers, jewellery trays and watch rolls with capsule.”
One question that jewellers may have, though, is whether male consumers will want to invest in a jewellery box as well as the jewellery itself. Wolf thinks so.
He says: “Our jewellery boxes and trays feature LusterLoc which prevents jewellery from tarnishing for up to 35 years. Our watch box with drawer means you can store watches and jewellery conveniently in the same place.
“Our watch roll with capsule isn’t just for watches; it’s perfect for storing a necklace, bracelet or bangle. We are the storage solution, and it doesn’t hurt that our products are impeccably designed.”