The Gift Guide: Level Up

Symbolic and simply stylish jewels for men that are guaranteed to elevate any look.

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Don’t get the man in your life another set of whiskey rocks.
He deserves a more precious stone, like a natural diamond. 


The human species has been around much longer than human civilization, and the impulse to decorate oneself goes all the way back to our hunting and gathering past. Self-expression could be considered one of humanity’s basic needs. The imperative to show one’s affiliations, prowess and beliefs through adornment is central to our lives as we do not have spots or feathers of our own. So, for better or worse, we have always borrowed from others in our natural world. And in 2023, of course, it’s vastly preferable to celebrate the natural world through symbolism. Natural materials (such as natural diamonds and precious metals) rendered in artisan techniques really [hand] hammer this point home.

Bernard James;

David Yurman;

Sethi Couture;

Uniform Object;

Ole Lynggaard;

Whether inspired by flora or fauna, these treasures really take on the personality of their wearer, and vice versa. An introvert can show the world their inner bull with one of Uniform Object’s pendants; the most serious man shows his playful side with Bernard James’ fungi ring and the burliest guy can show his delicate sensibilities with Sethi Couture’s Laurel Diamond Ring. For millions of years, decorating yourself to mimic nature was the only option for Sapiens and our ancestors, but the modern man can choose (or have chosen for him) a symbol to celebrate and commemorate Earth’s bounty. Who knows: It might just motivate him to help save what’s left.


Military garb has informed much of what we wear peacefully today. You might not know that the neckties became part of military regalia as replacements for the Gorget, which was itself the vestigial ornament of full metal body armor. These days it can feel like the battlefield is all around us, and a little luck or added protection is welcome. The charm a man wears around his neck or wrist can—and should—be the most personal item his body bears; it’s likely that it will never come off. So, how can one possibly pick? Religion or spiritual beliefs are usually the best place to start, but there are certainly guys out there who have hedged their bets by wearing protection symbols from multiple heritages.

Castro Smith;
David Yurman;

Receiving a herald or charm as a gift can imbue extra significance, as they are often given to commemorate big life events, and who gives can be as important as what is given. Giving a protection charm to another is a bond and a prayer that the receiver will stay on the right path, avoid trouble more often than escaping it and take moments to pause and reflect. It’s been said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and keeping a little (symbolic) armor near your heart will remind the wearer they are prepared.


Sydney Evan,
Jacob & Co, 

What do you get for the guy who has everything? Something he already has—but way more precious. Taking something mundane or commonplace and elevating it to an heirloom is not a new concept; it happens all the time in food, fashion, jewelry and accessories. These things can be practical—something that you’d carry every day anyway—so why not carry the best possible version? This logic applies to Good Art’s Model 22 Clip, which acts as foolproof carabiner-like key chain, or Mr. Leight’s sunglasses with superior lenses and platinum or gold hinges that rank them the last pair you’ll leave in a taxi. 

Tiffany & Co;

Just as fun is a cheeky (and luxurious) take on something you see every day. The late Virgil Abloh’s first foray into jewelry (in conjunction with Jacob & Co) was bracelets and necklaces that looked like paper clips—the kind of thing Pharrell Williams, his friend and successor at Louis Vuitton, would get a kick out of. (Williams recently auctioned off many of his personal goods, including a solid gold BlackBerry.) Or try not to smile when you look at Sydney Evan’s multi-color jewel-encrusted happy face bracelet. Besides, even those who have everything could use another smile.


 Luis Morais; 
Uniform Object;

For many guys, the first experience they have buying or receiving jewelry comes down to a simple chain. Whether it’s a Figaro link, a Cuban or a herringbone, and whether it was purchased at the mall, 47th Street or Canal, the experience was likely formative. It’s also true that for many guys, finding something that is one or two standard deviations better than those nostalgic pieces is all they ever dream about.

David Yurman;

Happily, we’ve entered a new era of links—one that combines timeless appeal with a new school flair. At this scale, seamlessly embedding natural diamonds seems like magic, imbuing the bracelets and necklaces with a magical shimmer that doesn’t overpower or feel ostentatious. Updating (and upgrading) such a staple of men’s adornment could be hazardous in less capable hands than David Yurman or Luis Morais (to name a few), but done right, it makes a classic shine with new light.