A Guide to Antique & Vintage Jewellery for Men
If you’re feeling like the women get all the fun when it comes to jewellery, then take heart. The few men’s styles made popular over the centuries have serious staying power and antique men’s jewellery is both elegant and highly collectable.
Also known as stickpins, tie pins were first worn by wealthy early Victorian gentlemen in order to keep the silky folds of their cravats in check. The trend caught on and by the time they were phased out – around 1920 – tie pins were used by both men and women to accessorise ties, neck scarves, cravats, hats.. you name it.
Since they were widely produced, really beautiful Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco tie pins are still available in a broad range of styles, materials and prices. They are an affordable, original acquisition for any stylish modern man.
Cufflinks became popular in the Victorian era, when newly stiff men’s shirt cuffs needed to be secured. The splendour and frivolity of Georgian fashioned sobered into a conservative dress code for men, of a dark suit in daytime and a dinner jacket or tailcoat in the evening. Small details like cufflinks and tie pins were an opportunity for middle and upper class men to accessorise.
The Prince of Wales – later Edward VII – made colourful and extravagant cufflinks popular and from the Edwardian era onward cufflinks became a fashion accessory rather than a functional item. Designs duly jazzed up.
Cufflinks are no longer a necessity (button cuffs have been available for ages) but it’s a testament to their style status that they are still widely worn. With their unique designs and nostalgic styles, antique cufflinks are a very elegant piece of jewellery for the discerning gentleman.
Signet rings are one of the oldest forms of men’s jewellery and are still going strong today. They were first used by ancient civilisations as a form of identification and have been used by nobility throughout history to ‘sign’ important documents.
Signet rings traditionally bear coats of arms or designs which identify a person or organisation. Still today, the head of a wealthy family will often wear a signet ring bearing the family’s coat of arms. This ring is passed down to younger generations. Freemasons also wear signet rings to help identify themselves to other members.
A signet ring is a beautiful, confident bit of jewellery for a man to own. If you know where to dig around you can even find the odd blank antique signet ring, perfectly ‘worn’ in feel and ready for a unique, personal design to be etched in.
Men’s dress sets consist of cufflinks, shirt studs and detachable buttons which are all designed to be worn together with formalwear such as a dinner jacket, evening tails or a morning coat.
These days, dress sets are a handsome, distinguished thing to own and make a great addition to a gentleman’s wardrobe.