Man Up! by Lora Hart

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Steven Tyler at the Dark Shadows Los Angeles Premiere, Chinese Theater, Hollywood, CA 05- 07-12 © Sbukley |

Jewelry has been an important element of male style since the first caveman threaded a seashell onto a length of sinew and tied it around his neck. Perceived as a status symbol, a show of wealth, an emblem of strength and power, or simply a decorative adornment, jewelry often defines a man’s character without a word being spoken.

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HENRY VIII IN FULL REGALIA. File: Henry_VIII_(5)_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpg
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FOULAH TRIBAL JEWELRY & DRESS. Photo: public domain. http://www.allaboutgemstones. com/jewelry_history_primitive_ethnic_tribal.html

From the elaborately bejeweled majesty of Henry VIII to the subdued sophistication of Don Draper’s elegant watches to the menacing headdresses, ankle cuffs and breastplates of an African chieftain to Dave Navarro’s and Steven Tyler’s heavy metal jewelry, men embrace the gold, silver and gemmy goodness of ritualistic adornment just as fervently as their female counterparts.

Statement jewelry for men has been on the rise since the early ‘70s and savvy designers are vying to stake their claim in this rapidly expanding market. How do you know if the men’s market is for you? Just as in any aspect of your jewelry-making career, you have to be true to yourself, your aesthetic and your inner drive. Some women have designed wonderful
pieces for men to wear, just as some men design astonishingly beautiful jewels for women. But sometimes the crossover just doesn’t ring true. Enlarging the scale of a woman’s line by using bigger beads, darker colors or heavier leather doesn’t necessarily translate into a more masculine look. It takes a certain kind of eye, a more deliberate hand and a more mindful approach for a woman to create manly adornments. But once the formula has been figured out the possibilities are endless.

We can thank Mr. T for jump-starting the hip-hop fascination with big, bold, glitzy jewels for men. Rockers have followed the trend with skull jewelry, Maltese crosses, layers of chains with pendants and knuckle rings on every finger. The younger generation of businessmen collects amusing or slyly shocking signature cuff links as a kind of inside joke. I’ve even seen men sporting lapel pins alongside their pocket squares.
We may be at the dawning of a new age of adornment. Perhaps it’s time to pump up the volume of your designs, rethink the message that your work might send and develop a new niche for the metal (clay) jewelry-wearing man of tomorrow.

MCAM 5.1_Page_13_Image_0001LORA HART is a Senior Instructor with PMC Connection. Her work has been featured in many books, magazines, and calendars. As a designer, educator, and creativity coach, Lora’s passion for the art
and business of jewelry making has taken her across the United States to help other makers explore their own passions, develop their craft and expand their skill set.Follow her blog at Class Schedule:

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