Men and women have both been wearing jewelry for millennia. Although jewelry is more associated with women nowadays, it has been incredibly important to both genders as symbols of status and wealth. From rings to armbands and necklaces to crowns, museums are filled with amazing artifacts that show just how obsessed we are with bling. Here are some interesting jewelry facts to expand your horizons.
Producing Enough for Almost Everyone
Although jewelry has been around for a very long time, ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians were the first to produce jewelry on a massive scale. But not everyone could afford it, only wealthy men and women possessed and wore jewelry; usually made from gold, silver, and precious stones.
Jewelry Is Far Older Than You Might Think
The oldest piece of jewelry that has ever been found by archeologists is more than 100,000 years old. It was carved from bone and worn by Neanderthals. It is unclear whether the jewelry was meant for men or women, but some historians believe males have worn it as status symbols.
Groovy Men’s Trends
The Smiths started a trend in the 1980s of wearing jewelry. Although men wore jewelry during the Hippie era of the 1960s, most men did not wear jewelry in the very gender-biased 1980s Britain. The Smiths changed all that, bringing about long beaded necklaces and even florals for men.
World’s Most Expensive Pocket Watch
The world’s most expensive jewels were mostly worn by women, but in 2015, a Patek Philippe men’s gold watch sold at auction for $24.4 million. The watch was made in 1933 and is said to be one of the most sophisticated pocket watches in existence.
Ribbons, Buttons, and Cufflinks
Sleeve buttons and cufflinks were not always around. Before these indispensable inventions, men wore ribbons around the wrists of their shirts to keep them in place. Can you believe that, ribbons! It was only after the 1600s that small jeweled sleeve buttons replaced the fabric ribbons. And soon after came the cufflinks, not exactly as we know them today, they were a lot simpler and less polished. Cufflinks, as we know them now, weren’t invented until 1924.
What Jewelry for Men Is Made of Has Changed With Modern Technology
Gold has always been the most popular jewelry material because of how soft and easy is to work with it. Silver was also a favorite. But modern machines have made working with harder metals easier, giving rise to platinum, titanium, wood, and even recycled plastic and aluminum.
Engagement Rings Not Always Meant Diamond Rings
The first engagement ring was created in 1477 for Mary of Burgundy from her husband-to-be Maxamillion the First. The ring was made with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.” Nonetheless, diamond engagement rings didn’t become the norm until the 20th century, because of an ad campaign by the De Beers Diamond company.
Pinky Rings Are a Big Thing for Men
For many years, men wore pinky rings (also known as signet rings) for a very practical reason. Signet rings were used to make an impression into sealing wax on a letter. These made documents official and made it much harder for someone to read your private, sealed correspondence. Men now wear pinky rings as a fashion statement or as proof of affiliation with a group. Some mafia groups, for example, are said to have unique signet rings; this association of crime with this style jewelry was accentuated by movies such as The Godfather and Little Caesar.
Men’s Jewelry Has Traditionally Been for a Purpose and Not Just Decoration
Cecil B. Hartley, author of the Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette in 1860, said that men should never wear jewelry as “mere ornament.” Men’s jewelry, therefore, should always “have some use.” Since then, most male jewelry has served a purpose rather than just being decorative. For example, rings wore by modern men usually has a particular purpose; some reflect their school accomplishments others their marital status.
Roman Soldiers Also Wore Bling
Roman soldiers wore iron rings to distinguish themselves from civilians. And those who performed great deeds in battle were given gold rings symbolizing status and power over their fellow’s soldiers.
Men’s Jewelry Is More Than Meets the Eyes
Many pieces of men’s jewelry from historical times weren’t just for show; lots of Roman, Native American worn jewels for protection or good luck. Starting in the 1600s, many men, for example, wore small swords not only to show how rich they were but also as a means of defense. These highly decorated short sword remained popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, giving rise to the saying “a man is not dressed without his sword.” Other jewelry used was Amulets, Talismans, and Good Luck Charms; worn to protect from harm and evil, and bring luck for those who believe in its power.
Male Jewelry Is Still Very Popular
Jewelry has been around for longer than written history has, and we can’t get enough of it. From rappers to modern businessmen all the way back to pharaohs in Egypt and emperors in Asia, men have been wearing jewelry since forever. And nowadays, male jewelry is out there, celebrities use it all the time, what makes it more common by the minute. So maybe you should give it a try too. Who knows, you might fall in love with it.