Is There Ever Anything Suave About A Man Wearing Jewelry?

Flaunt it, baby!
Flaunt it, baby!
Clark Parkin

At the very mention of the words “male jewelry,” scary images come to mind: super loaded pizzeria owner, rings gleaming on fat fingers, shirt open down to here, gold chain nestling in a dense forest of dark chest hair.

But you could also imagine a turbo-tanned pimp on Hamburg’s red-light district, or German reality-show star Robert Geiss (think Jersey Shore but with a German nouveau-riche family moving to Monaco). Whatever image you choose, you’re into the total turn-off vibe male jewelry can conjure up.

But that also means that many stylish men turn away from considering the idea of wearing even the most discreet gold adornment. And as a male fashion critic, how can I write male jewelry off without ever having worn any?

The real question is what kind of jewelry. I’m not a rocker type, which means that the whole Heavy Metal category of silver jewelry is out. On the other hand, the Karl Lagerfeld thing – a major offensive combining silver Chrome Hearts (the American luxury brand created by motorcycle buff Richard Stark) pieces with diamond-studded vintage jewelry -- also doesn’t do it for me. Nor does rapper bling.

But I’m not giving up -- so I take myself off to a high-end purveyor: the Berlin branch of French jeweler Cartier.

The operative rule as regards male jewelry has always been that, cuff links and watches (and black tie studs, and perhaps a tie bar) aside, it is quite simply not the done thing. As a consequence, any man with a taste for a little more personal adornment ended up focusing that taste on his watch – and watches became larger, heavily charged, and flashy. Faced with watches like that, to say today that men can’t wear jewelry borders on the ridiculous.

Disreputable bourgeois

So all that’s missing, really, are the right role models. How else is a man to know just how much or how little jewelry to wear? When a recognized authority like Carine Roitfeld, the former editor in chief of French Vogue, says that she finds men who wear jewelry sexy, it has to be possible to pull it off without looking like a grade-A idiot.

The best model for how gold jewelry can look good on a guy may well be the French 1970s style, half bourgeois, half disreputable (which is how Roitfeld describes herself).

Worn discreetly, in the very best of cases it may come across the way it did on the young Alain Delon, the French actor. In Purple Noon (1960), he wears a gold chain with cross pendant, and in private photographs of the actor from the 1970s he’s seen wearing a Cartier Trinity ring on his pinky finger.

Cartier knows a trend in the making when they see one, and this year revived two jewelry lines from the ‘70s by deceased designer Aldo Cipullo. One of these is the Love Bracelet, which comes with a special screwdriver to close it -- and with designer Tom Ford wearing it, it has become a sought-after piece of male jewelry.

I try on the pavé diamond version of the bracelet (cost: €35,000, or $45,000), and it makes me look less like a rapper than I would have thought. In fact, wearing it in Monaco I’d still seem almost underdressed, although I wouldn’t dare wear it on the streets of Berlin.

Cartier lets me take the gold version of the Love Bracelet and another Cipullo bracelet from the "Juste un clou" line home for a test trial over the weekend. The latter is shaped like a bent nail, and looks better on the wrist than I would have thought. It also doesn’t scream “Cartier” as loudly as the Love Bracelet. It just sort of twists naturally around my wrist and is unexpectedly comfortable. It’s what you would call a “grower” in American fashion slang: it gets ever better with time.

Some of my women friends recognize the design, but the most recognition comes from other men: they notice the bracelet immediately and the fact that it’s gold interests them less than that they find the design cool. But what makes all my prejudices finally melt definitively is bringing the bracelets back to Cartier on Monday -- when I realize just how the “Juste un clou” bracelet has actually come to feel like it’s part of me.

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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