MILAN – Jewelry has always held a special place in defining the position, power and attributes of men throughout history. In ancient times and during the founding of civilizations, they were associated with strength and mysticism, often imbued with magical powers and linked with religious beliefs.
But what is the statement male consumers are now making in tapping into the burgeoning category of men’s jewelry?
While pre-pandemic men still tended to avoid bold pieces and embrace more understated jewelry – think sterling silver rings and chain link necklaces, or tag charms hanging from understated bracelets – close two years after the COVID-19 health emergency, things have changed.
The pandemic seems to have sparked a new appetite for daring, experimental and personalized pieces, with a boom in fine jewelry.
According to market research firm Euromonitor International, the men’s jewelry industry is valued at $ 6.5 billion in 2021, up 17% from 2020 and almost 4% from 2019. The The sector has grown steadily over the period 2015-21 – except for the fallout from the pandemic – at a compound annual growth rate of over 3%.
While the direct-to-consumer business model has paved the way for affordable brands that tap into the burgeoning men’s market, online retailers say fine jewelry is the unexpected booming segment.
Case in point: Mr Porter has increased his men’s offering by 200% this year to satisfy “the deeper customer intrigue and engagement in the category,” as Maxim De Turckheim, senior watch buyer and jewelry. He attributed the significant increase to customers who “choose to invest in high quality parts with craftsmanship at heart, which will last the test of time.”
Admittedly, the fine jewelry segment is on a growth path despite the pandemic, with sales in 2021 up 7% year-on-year to reach 22 billion euros, according to the 20th edition of the “Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study “conducted by consultancy firm Bain & Co. in collaboration with the Italian luxury goods association Altagamma.
Men drew a parallel with the luxury watch segment, a traditionally strong category among male customers with products often viewed as an investment. Likewise, rare gemstones are increasingly in demand, as pointed out by Min Lee, jewelry manager at Farfetch.
âMale customers really look at both metals and minerals and buy diamonds, pearls and gemstones in sterling silver, gold and platinum. It’s really nice to see colorful gemstones also being bought by men right now, âshe said.
According to Damien Paul, Head of Men’s Clothing at Matchesfashion, âMany customers favor bullion pieces when adding to their wardrobe and jewelry is no different. Whether a piece of jewelry is timeless and understated or makes a bold statement, men of different tastes and styles experience it, confident they’ll wear it well beyond a season or two.
He attributed a renewed focus on self-expression to the wider access to sportsmen, musicians and social media stars sporting bold jewelry. This was the case for London-based brand Otiumberg, which saw its men’s category skyrocket by 337% in 2020 after Irish actor Paul Mescal was seen wearing the brand’s engraved oval pendant.
This was not an unexpected result as the chain necklace Mescal wore in the hit Amazon Prime Video series “Normal People” sparked a frenzy and dedicated fan Instagram accounts were launched.
Over the past year, “there has been a lot of male self-gift shopping and I think this has coincided with conversations around men’s jewelry, in part thanks to ‘Normal People’,” he said. said Otiumberg co-founder Christie Wollenberg. âWe’ve also seen our customers buy from men’s chains, which I’m sure was a direct result of this series. Everyone wanted their partners to look a bit like Paul, âshe joked.
Building on this momentum, the brand expanded its unisex offer and explored personalization to make its chains, engraved pendants and earrings even more attractive to male customers looking for timeless pieces.
On top of that, retailers agreed that the rise of new notions of masculinity has prompted men to be more experimental and embrace bold pieces, such as Shay’s Cuban Link Pave Necklaces; avant-garde rings, including a rainbow baguette style with diamonds and sapphires by Suzanne Kalan, and pieces by David Yurman blending solid 18k gold with white gold and diamonds.
âI would definitely say that men are turning to more unusual and beautifully designed pieces by talented jewelry designers rather than just focusing on big, established brands,â said Paul of Matchesfashion, who noted that jewelry that stands out âindividualâ feel is booming.
For example, at Farfetch there’s a mix of established names and young designers, with men tapping into Chopard and Boucheron, as well as Joy BC, Foundrae and Shay. âThe pieces are bolder, more voluminous and much more assertive [making]Lee said, emphasizing how eager men are to support new names.
âI think post-pandemic people who go out, get dressed and want to customize their look have benefited the fine jewelry category. We are seeing more statements and unique pieces being sold, âshe argued.
As such, the category of men’s jewelry is reaching maturity and gearing up for a new chapter.
The âboundaries between men and women continue to blur and with this category of jewelry they will continue to evolve,â said Yasmin Lane, Browns assistant buyer for fashion and fine jewelry.
The London-based retailer has expanded its offering to include 25 new brands, such as Pyrrha-conscious jewelry, rock and roll pieces by Luis Morais and 70s-inspired designs by Hoorsenbuhs. The pandemic, Lane said, “has encouraged men to take more risks, especially with their accessories, and those who never considered themselves jewelry wearers before are really starting to explore this category.”
âAs we see a shift in attitudes towards masculinity, men have pushed to be more daring in their choice of style and expression and to be much more experimental with jewelry,â added De Turckheim of Mr Porter. .
âThere is a greater appetite for anything but simple or traditional, as our customers become more adventurous with colors and textures, while also being experimental and less intimidated by new trends such as pearls, pearls, enamel. and colored gems, âLane said.
As men buy more jewelry, Lee of Farfetch said it âwill have a big impact on the entire fine jewelry industry which has primarily focused on women. I can’t wait to see more unisex and men’s jewelry created and offered, and more men wearing beautiful jewelry in everyday life and for special occasions.
Chris Kyvetos, menswear purchasing manager at Mytheresa, has seen consistent performance for the online retailer’s menswear section, regardless of the style changes brought on by the pandemic.
âOur men’s clothing department has always focused on men’s clothing before and after the lockdown. Jewelry fits into this well as a staple part of the male wardrobe, âKyvetos said.
He also didn’t seem to recognize this as an emerging trend. âFashion doesn’t always recognize generational changes for what they are, it all seems to be cast in the prism of a ‘new trend’,â he said.
The Munich-based company has mainly focused on mid-fine jewelry and is just starting to embrace hard luxury with the exclusive introduction of the Copenhagen brand Elhanati and a deal with bespoke jeweler Duffy already underway. âFine jewelry, we are looking more for the future as demand continues to grow for this category,â he said.
According to De Turckheim, the increase in demand will keep the momentum going, as “men have found fine jewelry as a way of expressing themselves and are not about to give up any time soon.”