Men’s jewelry is a nebulous topic for even those clued into the most obscure and insular sectors of the men’s fashion world. Archaic societal norms generally dictate that men wear little more than a wedding band and watch, and occasionally a guy will put on something like a class ring or Livestrong bracelet. Meanwhile, women are encouraged to indulge in the full gamut of accessories; necklaces, earrings, bangles, rings—for fingers, toes, noses, eyebrows, ears—there’s no limit.
Luckily, we’ve since moved beyond the point of outdated gender standards that divide men and women’s fashion—countless brands, large and small, have emerged in the past couple decades to cater to the growing men’s jewelry market. It’s no longer a realm occupied solely by well-heeled consumers seeking auspicious, gaudy displays of wealth. Rather, men coming from all walks of life and styles of clothing can choose from a wide array of brands. Of course, the large fashion houses produce jewelry lines, but there’s something to be gained from a focus on the smaller brands that exclusively produce jewelry and accessories.
Born from the desire to craft simple jewelry for men, Michael Saiger created Miansai in his Miami dorm room. After years of being turned off by men’s jewelry being gaudy, nonsensical (wooden necklaces?) and overly macho, Saiger spontaneously threaded a leather cord through an empty bullet casing in a bid to create some kind of jewelry that he could actually wear. What followed was a slow burn to success. Miansai crafts rings, bangles, watchbands, wallets, keyrings, notebook cases and more out of leather and metal, all in the aim of being the definitive accessory brand. Some jewelry and accessory labels skew towards specific styles of leather and metalcraft—like artisanal, goth-leaning brands or rugged Goro’s-inspired lines; Miansai strives to produce versatile bits and bobs that caters to anyone simply seeking out basic, quality goods.
Miansai Screw Cuff Ring Sz. 7
There are labels with pedigrees, and then there’s Goro’s. Goro Takahashi opened his now-legendary Harajuku store in 1966, after learning the art of silver engraving from Native Americans. The brand reached the height of its popularity in the late-’80s as streetwear culture began to take off in Harajuku, with rising stars like NIGO and Hiroshi Fujiwara repping the brand.
This is when the legend of the brand practically overshadows the product itself; by the mid-’90s, Goro’s was a cult brand and had the long lines to prove it. Every day, Takahashi would craft a handful of pieces, which would then be sold to the first few customers allowed in the store to buy them. Once the day’s wares were sold, the store would close—there was no backstock to speak of. Furthermore, the sales staff had the final say in who was allowed to buy each piece. Think of it as the jewelry version of an early-era Supreme drop… but daily. Since Takahashi’s passing in 2013, his children have kept the legacy intact. Goro’s product is all leather and metal, indebted to the Native American artisans who taught Takahashi their craft. Goro’s almost single-handedly created the demand for Native American craftsmanship in the Japanese market; brands like Larry Smith and Visvim owe a debt to Goro’s for both carving out a niche in Japan and defining the aesthetic for modern men.
Goros Custom Sujime eagle head belt
It’s all well and good to purchase quality silver and gold jewelry to accentuate an outfit, but what if you want to activate maximum overdrive? Chrome Hearts is perhaps one of the flashiest jewelry labels in America, with a nearly 30-year pedigree to back it up. Founded in the late-’80s in Los Angeles, the brand began as a label catering to bikers—and bikers like their jewelry lavish and loud.
No expense is spared, with large jewels nestled into massive silver and gold rings, bracelets and necklaces. On top of that, Chrome Hearts produces a variety of accessories and leather goods, all of which are studded with precious metals and stones. Overall, Chrome Hearts goods are only available at its official locations (or on aftermarket retailers like Grailed), with no online store and practically no marketing except a charity fashion show and a quarterly magazine printed in Japan. This exclusivity and recognizable aesthetic make it one of the most popular cult jewelry brands ever.
The brand also produces an entire line of clothes and accessories, ranging from semi-affordable printed tees and sweats to monstrously expensive leather jackets. Every piece receives the ostentatious treatment, from belt buckles to leather aprons. Naturally, Chrome Hearts’ notorious collaborations merit notice, with Chrome Hearts taking items like Rick Owens’ Geobaskets and embedding silver and jewels all over the shoes and customizing Levi’s 501s with leather cross patches, testing the boundaries of good taste as retail prices skyrocket.
Parts of Four
Founded in 2011, Parts of Four, this jewelry brand comes from the mind of Evan Sugerman. Originally from Los Angeles, Sugerman has established Parts of Four as a Parisian brand, with its only freestanding store based in the City of Lights (though the brand does have a space within the larger footprint of Los Angeles’ Hammer and Spear showroom).
While its offerings are more niche than bigger cult labels like Chrome Hearts, Parts of Four has built its brand off a selection of curated global stockists, and its ability to stand next to the avant-garde designs of Boris Bidjan Saberi, Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto. With everything from “Druid Rings” to embellished monkey skulls (yes, literally the skull of a primate), Parts of Four is easily one of the more abstract, avant-garde brands on this list.
Founded in 1996, Werkstatt:München is a German jewelry line emphasizing slim—yet substantial—artisanal jewelry. The designs include intricately carved bangles, dense chain bracelets and skulls… lots of skulls. Werkstatt:München has enjoyed a strong following amongst the goth set due to their quietly austere and unisex designs; crafting pieces with the aforementioned dearth of skulls certainly doesn’t hurt either. In the past, Werkstatt’s designer, Klaus Lohmeyer, collaborated with Ann Demeulemeester on a jewelry line based on their mutual appreciation for referential, timeless clothing.
Though Werkstatt:München is a luxury label, it rejects showy designs in favor of classic shapes that can be passed down from parent to child, friend to friend and relative to relative, thereby creating a tradition of inheritance. There is a lot of history and reverence packed into each piece of gold, leather, wool or silver shaped by the label; whether it designs a pair of glasses or a set of earrings, the intent is to confer a sense of personal elegance to the wearer. Much like how Comme des Garçons designs clothing purely for the pleasure of the wearer, Werkstatt:München is a brand built on the desire to accentuate personal style.
By Jake Silbert