“I’ve never really been a jewelry guy.” That was the first sentence I started typing when I set out to write this story. Halfway through it, a skeptical voice in my head chimed in: “If that’s true, then how do you explain your eighth-grade school picture?”
I am aware that many people do not look back fondly on their middle school selves. I can’t relate; eighth grade was my absolute peak. I could run fast for a long time, I could solve for x, and I could wear the hell out of a puka shell necklace. Oh, and my hair poofed out one morning after gym class so I kept doing that.
The hair thing was all my idea – if I remember correctly, the puka shell necklace was a widespread trend that I opted into. Seeing other people do something and then trying it out for yourself is a perfectly fine way to figure out what you like. But following the pack was not how I first discovered a love of finery: no, my jewelry affinity sprouted from spending time with my grandmother.
Grammy and Granddad had a wholesale jewelry side hustle. They would load their wares into a modified white Dodge caravan and tour the country, setting up their stall at various conventions and bazaars to sling cubic zirconia and 925 sterling silver pieces. While still in my single digit years, I would help Grammy polish and price the jewelry.
They had a big storage closet full of bins and boxes – it was like the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin but with polystyrene and bubble wrap. I knew that Grammy’s diamond engagement ring was not something I was allowed to play with – so why was it okay for me to handle and fiddle with all these enormous “diamonds” they sold at their shows?
This was when I learned that you can wear cubic zirconia for a bit, but it will scratch and cloud. You can wear a natural diamond for a million years and it will still shine as brightly as it did the day your beloved bequeathed it to you. I fantasized that out of all the jewelry they had stored away, there must be one piece they overlooked, one precious stone that had been misclassified as replicable when it was in fact an Eternal Gem. I never found one, but I do treasure my memories of that time.
You can wear a natural diamond for a million years and it will still shine as brightly as it did the day your beloved bequeathed it to you.
Somewhere along my teen years I looked back at some of my jewelry choices and decided it was best I stay out of that arena entirely. Out of fear of embarrassment, I decided I ‘wasn’t a jewelry guy.’ The path of cowardice, though well trodden, leads nowhere worth going. I’m so happy that in my adult years, I’ve become good friends with Frank Everett, the Vice Chairman of Jewelry for Sotheby’s.
Late in 2023, Frank assembled an exhibition titled “For The Boys,” a celebration of men’s jewelry featuring over 100 pieces ranging from the mid-18th century to the present day. One of Frank’s missions here on Earth, in addition to one day becoming a shopkeep, is to break down gender barriers and encourage more men to embrace the fact that it kicks ass to wear finely crafted natural diamond jewelry. I was lucky enough to go on a personal see’n’touch tour of his collection the day before the grand unveiling party and, of course, to the party itself.
I wear three pieces of jewelry, but they’re all wife-related. I wear a gold heart pendant with our initials engraved on it that was a gift from a group of our friends when we got engaged. I wear a beautiful Rolex that she gave me for my thirtieth birthday. And of course, I’ve got my rose gold wedding ring. Are you seeing the problem here? There’s nothing sparkly! Eighth-grade me would be ashamed of the mild mannered adult I’ve become.
The day before the party, I tried on a couple of million dollars worth of jewelry to find something suitable for the big event.
This Bulgari Serpenti necklace featuring 20 carats of natural diamonds and 2.5 carats of rubies would have been my first choice but unfortunately Frank insisted it was earmarked for the display case. But I do particularly love the articulated gold necklace links and the snake’s snazzy diamond hairdo.
I also loved this David Webb panther brooch, mostly because it looks like how I hold my cat when I wake her up from a nap to bother her. The emerald eyes feel a bit judgmental to me – I think this panther is not the victim of a trophy hunt but was wounded in the line of duty and has been sedated and transported for veterinary care.
I was surprisingly into this combo of the silver topped gold and diamond necklace paired with gold, coral, and enamel pendant from 1865 but in the end, it felt a bit too much of a “Young Pope” vibe. But still – it’s funny how you can look at something and think, “Oh, never.” And then you try it on and think, “Well, actually…”
This David Yurman gold and diamond angular curb link bracelet had an extremely comforting heft to it. But only 3.8 carats of diamonds? I was entranced by the design but if it was for one night only, I was going to need a bit more dazzle.
This felt much more appropriate: a Van Cleef & Arpels gold and diamond bracelet sporting 18 carats. But Frank said no; another one for the display case. Can you believe the cruelty of this man?
This NN by NGHI ensemble featuring the “Can Beauty Conquer Fear” spider ring felt very Captain Jack Sparrow. And I love the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise but I don’t love spiders. I mean, I love the necessary role they play in nature, but I don’t want my heart to skip a beat every time I catch a glimpse of my own hand. This time, fear won.
How cool are these Verdura ‘Nut and Bolt’ cufflinks? It’s giving ‘Frankenstein alternate ending where he’s accepted into high society.’ Alas – the shirt I planned on wearing came with its own unremarkable plastic buttons.
I would have opted for this Cartier ensemble of dueling gold and enamel necklaces with a gold and black opal ring, but I think if I had, they would have asked me to DJ the party and I guarantee my musical taste would not match the vibe. But still – I think these three pieces have a lot to say to each other. At least, when I gazed into the opal for what could have been three seconds or a thousand years, I did hear voices from beyond space and time.
In the end, we went with a simple but flashy necklace and ring combo. “My” necklace is an Evan Yurman for David Yurman white gold and diamond pave piece with 52.82 carats of diamonds – because 52.79 just wouldn’t quite feel right. And on my finger is an unsigned gold ring iced with 2 carats of natural diamonds. Frank is sporting a platinum and diamond David Webb brooch and a very proud smile.
Now, I need to tell you what happened when he put the necklace on me. We’ve all heard someone describe something as a “tremendous weight off my shoulders,” and we all know that feeling. Well, this was the opposite of that feeling, but in a good way. It was a tremendous weight placed onto my shoulders, a weight that said: There you go, sir. You have such strong shoulders, capable of bearing so much.