Vintage gold cuff

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My view on jewellery has always been that it should be something special, certainly emotionally and probably financially too.

Men wear so little of it, and it is such a statement to do so, that it should be precious. Not a cheap leather bracelet, in other words.

My first such piece was made bespoke by Diana Maynard last year - a brass cuff with Art Deco-inspired details that we designed between us (below).

I always assumed my next would be bespoke too, but I found this vintage gold-plated cuff (above) while browsing Grays Antiques Market last month, and fell in love with it.

I think solid cuffs have a robustness that is welcome in men's jewellery, but it’s then hard to add fineness and decorative detail without being too effeminate.

This new piece does that well, I think, with just the ram’s heads at either end and plain gold in between.

I’ve looked through vintage pieces from the era for a few years, and most have precious stones for the eyes or elsewhere, which I think is too much.

Unlike that brass cuff, this piece will be for special occasions only. I only put it on with this outfit to photograph - most of the time it will be more dressed up.

(Although I do find it looks nice under heavier jackets, and chunky knitwear.)

Where the brass was beaten and used materials that will age and tarnish, this gold piece will be kept polished. Everyday versus special days.

I wore it, for example, at our event for Sartoria Ciardi a couple of months ago.

Being vintage (late Victorian) but not rare, the cuff was also good value for the metal and fineness of the work (£300).

I'm sure, as with all jewellery, this won't be to many readers' taste. But I like how this approach is slowly evolving.

Grays is often a good place to pop into, by the way. Being a collection of around 200 dealers, it is always good value for money compared to other places in Mayfair. And they have everything from jewellery to pottery, luggage to bookends.

www.graysantiques.com

Other items in the photography covered in this post.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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Bob

I am very surprised that you say that this is the one that would be worn with more formal clothing. To me at least, it isnt my style but can see it working fine with chunky knits etc but cannot see it at all in a dressed up outfit (and a little surprising you didnt have it clearly photographed in such an outfit). I agree the brass one isnt formal either but it would work better with a worsted suit and tie in my mind.

It may be just me though, I similarly don’t see big chunky diving watches working well with suits even if they cost more than my car (or house) but the number of guys you see combining the two outweighs the use of slim dress watches

Scott

Simon, you state in your comments that men wear so little jewelry which is factually true thank goodness! My view is that the only jewelry a man should wear is a wedding ring,and/or a signet type ring, and a watch, that’s it. Wearing a bracelet, multiple rings, a necklace etc makes a man look like a dandy or potentially effeminate, neither of which is a good look. This pernicious idea rears its ugly head from time to time unfortunately, but it needs to go away permanently. Of course a man can wear whatever he wants, but he’s not doing himself any favors by wearing too much jewelry.

Ken

Sorry Scott, I have to respectfully disagree – maybe you’re of an Anglo-European background which would explain your viewpoint but in my culture, men wearing some form of jewellery other than a watch, wedding ring or signet ring is most definitely NOT seen as effeminate or dandyish – at all.

Whilst I’m personally not for excessive amounts of jewellery on men, to say that “it’s not a good look” is rather myopic as you’re essentially presuming men from all cultures share this same conservative viewpoint of what is acceptable which I do find somewhat arrogant.

I’m not of European descent and while there are many elements of European mens dress that I enthusiastically embrace, I’m certainly not about to abandon my entire cultural heritage in favour of it!

Finally, I actually very much like that brass cuff Simon – it’s a shame it’s a vintage piece but I’d certainly consider commissioning something like that.

Scott

Ken, please refer to the beginning of the last sentence of my comments. As an American, I do indeed subscribe enthusiastically to the Anglo-European style of dress. There are obviously men in the West who wear more jewelry than I do, the Italians come to mind, and don’t give a hoot about my opinion on the matter. Regardless, I stand by my previous statement and don’t believe that it’s myopic or arrogant to express my opinion. You’ll find a very large majority, including women, have the same view, particularly in the U.S. If men in your culture wear more jewelry then so be it. By the way, if I was a guest in your country of origin of course I would never comment negatively about the dressing habits of the locals as that would be very rude indeed. So, I hope you’ll agree that it’s best to have a respectful discussion ,without ad hominem attacks, on this blog so that we all can learn something.

Scott

You’re welcome sir. Please forgive my absent mindedness in that I forgot to include cuff links as another form of appropriate,elegant, and masculine jewelry for men when done well.

neo

I think that this piece expresses personality and character in a way that a tailored garment never really can (no matter how fantastic the cloth or cut) – I know that many of your loyal readers will disagree. Modern menswear is maybe a little too done up and a piece of jewellery like this actually loosens things up a little – even if it is made of a precious material. It is a refreshing change from your usual posts – no matter how much I think that they are great! More of it please!

Robert

Men shouldn’t wear jewellery. We’re not pirates or savages or Southern Italians.

Anonymous

Southern Italians? But you’ll wear Neapolitan tailoring? Let’s not chuck the baby out with the bath water.

Benedetto

Being Italian I find Robert’s comment quite offensive. I believe that wearing jewellery has got nothing to do with our origins but just with our personal taste .

Mike

Personally, the only piece of ‘jewelry’ that I wear is a watch, and I consider it more of an accessory, not unlike a fountain pen, sunglasses or a business card case (all have a practical function other than being aesthetic or symbolic). However, I see nothing dandyish or wrong with men wearing a single piece of ‘pure’ jewelry if done appropriately. Clearly, what is ‘appropriate’ is left to the individual, but I guess that is why no rulebook or style guide or insane amount of money can buy a person this sensibility.

I don’t judge something’s quality based on whether or not I would wear/do/purchase it – that would be mighty arrogant of me.

I like the bracelet, and feel it fits Simon’s style quite well. It doesn’t matter if I would ever buy or wear it, or something like it.

Nick Inkster

Difficult one really.

In everyday terms, anything other than wedding band/signet ring/watch on a bloke is at the very minimum going to attract attention. I had my ear pierced in the early 70’s (when it was more a gypsy connotation than anything else) and that definitely got people talking, especially my father.

It’s then a question of degree I think; how big/weird/subtle/beautiful is it? What colour? Of what material? Does it look pretentious?

Then it’s about context; is it worn with a formal bespoke outfit? With jeans? In church? At a concert?

A good friend of mine is a rather well know musician who often wears a broach made of diamonds in the shape of a guitar on the lapel of his Row suits; he gets away with it because people see it in context.

The best question, though, is “do I like wearing it?”. If the answer is yes, then do.

Life is too short.

Charles

This makes me think of Hassan II ‘s style.
An oriental type of elegance, which suited him perfectly.
Not easy to wear though, whatever the circumstances, if you don’t have as much self-confidence as a king.
Thank you Simon for all the inspiration you bring.

Robert J.

The question of men accessorizing with jewelry – goes to sensibilities. When I see a well-dressed gentleman I take notice of the entire ensemble, noting the cut of the shoulders, the shoes, then to the left wrist. If he’s wearing a one of the Big Three +1 (Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantine, Patek Philippe or A. Lange & Sohne) then I bow to his sensibilities.

Niels

I find myself coming back to this post quite a bit. Do you have any more photos of the cuff? I really do like it.

Amman

Personally, I love wearing jewellery. I wear a watch, gold chain, signet ring and a gemstone ring everyday. I think jewellery is a perfect way of wearing something which is valuable in both a financial and sentimental way, which can always be passed on to loved ones. Furthermore, taste changes as you grow older I find, coming from a culture where 22 and 24ct gold is most prized I first found it a little too bling, however as I have grown older I have come to love the shine and richness of this purity of gold. So remember, what you may not like now, you may like after. Also, gentlemen lets not be at each other throats in the comments, we all have opinions and if someones shares a different opinion its cool just accept it and move on.

Last but not least, Simon I love the bangle and would definitely like to see a few more articles on jewellery and watches.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous

Simon,

What do you think of signet rings? Do you think it’s appropriate to wear on a ring finger?

Mike

Simon,

How do you feel about signet rings?

How would you wear them and where would you purchase one?

PaulS

It’s a stunning piece. If you ever get tired of it (unlikely I know) please let me know.

Peter

Lovely piece. I find jewellery’s main attraction in menswear comes in the warmer months, when one’s outfit is likely to be more pared back – in the absence of so many layers, and the textural interest of those different materials, jewellery can be a way to make a simple outfit (chinos and white t shirt eg) more subtly distinctive and refined.