2023 feels like the end of something as much as it feels like the beginning. It is a year of transition, as the world moves on from the pandemic and into something new. Few of the things that were broken in the plague years will be put back together the same; this is largely for the better. The only constant may be change, but many of us were stuck in our old ways and felt as if it would go on forever. But hegemony has broken, and the globe is topsy-turvy. Men and women are searching for something tangible to hold onto. Billions-of-years-old diamonds and precious metals that were birthed in supernovas can feel like a talisman or a bulwark against the chaos beyond our doors and between our ears.
Generations are changing. Millennial and Gen Z men have a different attitude towards fashion, style, consumption and gender norms than their predecessors. How all this plays out is yet to be determined, but we know a few things to be true. First is that social media has changed everything—but invented nothing. We have reached an inflection point where pretty much anything that has ever been in style is all on trend now. Images that are pulled together from different decades, regions and subcultures are all in our feeds right now. The lack of context can lead some to choose their own style adventure and give us some very interesting new combinations. It can lead others into existential paralysis without any grip on what’s appropriate to wear and when. Jewelry suffers from neither of these problems; it is inherently less trend-driven and meant to feel personal. The personal can still feel universal: everyone can recognize the chicness of a diamond pendant or tennis bracelet—both of which are enjoying a glinting moment in the sun.
Secondly, many men wear the same jewelry (or a small rotation) daily and it becomes part of their essential character. In choosing jewelry, men choose to enhance their individuality no matter what clothing “style” they tend to favor. A monochrome man may love colorful stones; a fully patchworked and mohaired dude might love a simple Figaro link bracelet.
Speaking of Figaro links, they are more popular than ever, in addition to Cuban Links and even Herringbone, as they speak to a simpler time and are as universally loved as anything in men’s jewelry could be. Adorning the wrists and necks of men from every walk of life, demographic set and style inclination, they are enjoying a resurgence that borders on being trendy.
This means that, thirdly, even though trends are dead, there are still trends. Many of them are encompassed in the most significant macro shift in many generations. This is the breakdown of gender norms in jewelry. Led by athletes, musicians, actors and folks on the street the refreshing result is multitudes of adornment choices open to men that would previously have been scorned. Look to Michael B. Jordan draped in Tiffany & Co. pearls for February’s Rolling Stone. Rappers such as Tyler, the Creator, and designers such as Charaf Tajer of Casablanca are similarly and regularly festooned. Actors like Timothée Chalamet and “regular” fashion show attendees have opted for diamond broaches (Chamalet most notably on the steps of the Met Gala) creating moments of inspiration and acceptance. Bad Bunny’s dangly earring and advanced fashion choices haven’t hurt his rise to be the highest charting Spanish language artist in history.
These guys are unafraid to use sex appeal, and the trickle down can be seen in the louche ‘70s aesthetic percolating through youth culture. It’s empowering to men to be able to present their sex appeal more broadly, especially in atmospheres that have traditionally been focused on ultra (and many times toxic) masculinity. Case in point: Paul Mescal’s swingin’ dinner jacket/broach combo at this year’s Oscars. A similar trend towards smaller and more delicate timepieces has overtaken the fine watch world only recently dominated by pieces more reminiscent of a heavyweight title belt than complicated wristwear.
Lastly, whether they ascribe to a minimalist or maximalist philosophy for their jewelry, men look at their pieces as an investment. Natural diamonds are indeed forever, and that feels reassuring at a time when we are constantly reminded of our impermanence. Be it a locked bangle (like Tiffany & Co.’s hugely successful launch), a tennis bracelet or a stack of both, the idea of having something solid and precious with you—and to you—at all times is reassuring.