A History of Men's Jewelry
Going back as far as 10000 BC, people used things like teeth, claws, fangs, and other natural materials to make jewelry, and often adorned by men as a status symbol. As time progressed, Some of these pieces displayed a specific significance to the wearer or even held more symbolic meaning. Even with today's more modern take on men's jewelry, you can still feel the aura of thousands of years of men's fashion and an array of unique customs.
The Ancient Jewelry of Men
Ancient Kings wore luminescent pearls around their necks. Renaissance men and sailors often displayed fashionable earrings. Pirates even were known to wear hoop earrings navigating the rough waters of the sea. Hundreds of years ago, gold, pearls, and gemstones were highly respected and considered signs of prosperity and wealth. In fact, on average, men have put on a considerable amount more jewelry in the past than they do now.
King Tut was buried with six pairs of earrings and hundreds of precious gemstones. Imagine a 16th-century monarch covered with shining crimson rubies, sparkling necklaces, and golden rings on every finger.
Picture a proud native Cherokee chief shielded in colorful, elaborate beads, turquoise, and garnets. In Asia, India, Africa, and worldwide, men have and continue to accessorize whether to display some significant meaning or be a new trendy fashion choice.
Men's jewelry has a long and elaborate history, a history that continues to grow and evolve as time passes.
The Role of Male Jewelry and Accessories
Archaeological studies and historical finds have helped us map out the history of men's jewelry worldwide. But there is still a lot that can be learned about its role. All that can be said is that the more civilized society becomes and the more resources available to them, the more importance is vested in the need to accessorize. In the past, Animal bones and stones served as totems or indicators of tribes and clans.
Some men in these clans wore claws and fangs from their hunts as a sign of being a strong warrior. Shamans, priests, and even royalty were covered in jewelry all over from their heads to their feet.
Servants of the Gods actually had a belief that certain forms and materials contribute to the connection with some form of a higher power. This connection then progressed into the wealthiest people of ancient states having the most expensive jewelry. Still today, men's jewelry displays wealth and prosperity.
Jewelry can also be used as a fashion opportunity or to express one's true individual self. The successful rapper and musician Rick Ross has a gold chain worth over 1 million dollars.
Related: Ways to Wear Jewelry Like a Celebrity
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Men's Jewelry Worn around the Neck and Head
Nowadays, traditional men dress in necklaces and bracelets according to practicality, relevance, and personal choice. Days of the over-the-top jewel-encrusted crown status symbol and elaborate headdresses are about extinct.
However, necklaces have not lessened in popularity with males. In ancient Egypt, a pharaoh would have pendants in the form of the sun or scarab beetle. Vikings with their runes, animal and ax-shaped medallions.
Today, the more modern male might prefer a simpler gold chain or pendant around their neck. Necklaces with natural stones are also trending, which is jewelry everyone can enjoy and benefit from.
Jewelers in the olden days were not capable of using mass-production machines, so each piece was always hand-made and one-of-a-kind. This unique quality was reflected by utilizing "signets" as a personal seal for every piece.
On occasion, archers would protect their fingers with rings when shooting a bow in battle or hunt. Royalties would wear numerous amounts of expensive hand jewelry to represent their wealth. Then, of course, there is the tradition of the wedding ring that continues today. Or giving out as a gesture of thanks and gratitude for your service.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Men’s Wedding Bands
Men Also Wear Earrings
Earrings haven't lessened in popularity with men. Today, there are gauges of all sizes, studs, and hoops for men to choose from. Of course, now it is more served as a decorative item or trendy accessory. Our ancestors used earrings as more of a symbol or award like when:
- A new sailor had the privilege to put on a ring after he first crossed over the equator.
- Middle Eastern men pierced their ears because they believed that it could help to improve vision.
- Riflemen and soldiers have used earrings to save their hearing in battle. They attached wax plugs to the earrings.
- If a pirate was to shore and passed away, earrings served as a funeral fee on the land.
- Rings today are given as awards or for winning sports championships. Even in careers and schooling, rings are given as mementos.
Men's Jewelry Today
No matter who you are, adding some accessories can amp up your style while both serving a meaning and a purpose. There are really no set rules in jewelry, and you are in no way limited by anything other than your imagination.
While Vikings and Spartans might have protected their bodies with bracelet-like bands, men today wear bracelets for other reasons. To keep that honor and culture with us and embrace the memories of times long gone.
Men also wear symbolic or engraved jewelry to show a significant other they care, and ornamenting your body meant so much in the past and is still relevant today.
Related: Choosing the Right Anniversary Jewelry
When Did Guys Start Wearing Chains?
Men started wearing chains as early as 2,500 BC. Egyptians were some of the first to thread gold and silver together as a symbol of the upper class. In 300 BC, men wore chains with gemstone pendants to communicate their status.
What Does It Mean When a Guy wears a Gold chain?
Anciently, men wore gold chains to show service and allegiance to their religion or god. But in modern society, men wear gold chains for several reasons. Guys mainly wear gold chains today for status, cultural norms, and wealth.
For fashionable men, a gold chain is a great accessory for creating a statement and completing their looks. It adds that bling factor that draws the eye and communicates a lot about a man’s personality and social status.
The most common types of gold chains for men are:
- Ropes: Ropes tend to command more attention.
- Cables: Cables are your classic everyday chain.
- Herringbone: Herringbone chains are thicker weaves, so they are rarely worn with pendants.
- Box: The box chain is thicker, exuding masculinity and strength.
- Franco: The v-shaped franco chain is more trendy and unique.
Did Men Wear Jewelry in the Medieval Times?
Yes. Even in the Middle Ages, men wore several types of jewelry:
Mostly worn by kings, princes, and noblemen, jewelry was the ultimate status symbol. Gemstones were very popular. It was during the Middle Ages that the diamond became the most expensive and valuable. Emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and pearls were also valuable.
Did Men Wear Rings in the 18th Century?
Yes, men and women wore rings in the 18th century to symbolize wealth and status. The style during this time was to wear multiple rings on many fingers. Stacking rings has been a common styling technique for a long time.
If you were in the upper classes, you wore several rings, mixing metals and gems to communicate status. Wealthy men were often seen wearing diamond rings.
Why Did Men Start Wearing Wedding Rings?
Before the 1900s, men didn’t wear wedding rings. Slavemasters often made their slaves wear rings, identifying the enslaved person as property. Similarly, men gave women a wedding ring to show that the woman was his.
But during World War I, men fighting on the front lines started wearing wedding bands to remember their wives and families. This tradition continued through World War II. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that men’s wedding rings became a common practice.
Who was the First Man to Wear Earrings?
According to archeologists, Persian men were the first to wear earrings in the Achaemenid Empire capital city of Persepolis in 550-330 BCE. They commonly wore silver earrings with Ibex as a symbol of wealth.
Ancient Egyptian men may have worn earrings as early as the 19th Dynasty in 1200 BC. But it is unclear if it was a common practice. Earrings were mostly found with child kings.
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We are an empty canvas. When we live, when we dress, we can show a bit of ourselves in every piece. Like jewelry, we are unique and diverse, especially men. And men spanning the age of time have expressed themselves by wearing it.
Okay, men, there are no rules. Go natural! Be simplistic or go crazy. Keep it casual or elegant! Be strong and fierce! Wear jewelry that serves your purpose and makes you feel good.
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