If there’s one trend we’re pleased to see making a comeback this season, it’s men’s jewellery. Designers as diverse as Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, Olivier Rousteing at Balmain and Mike Amiri all added a subtle set of stud earrings or a not-so-understated chain necklace to their looks – a common link between the menswear SS20 shows. Granted, guys have always worn jewellery in one form or another – from ancient-Egyptian lucky charms to, more recently, symbolic wedding bands – but this time around, it’s less a part of the uniform than a form of personal expression. Less bling-bling more you-do-you.
Spearheading the rise of men’s jewellery are four makers – All Blues, Bleue Burnham, Maria Black and Tom Wood – all of which are debuting at Harvey Nichols for SS20. We caught up with the designers behind the brands to get their take on the trend.
Geometric shapes, refined lines and understated detailing are hallmarks of Maria Black’s jewellery. Founded in 2010, the Danish brand takes a playful approach to the Scandi aesthetic, as seen in its split-hoop earrings and oxidised-finish rings.
“I spent my early twenties travelling the world, but fell in love with jewellery-making in Ibiza of all places. When I returned to Denmark, I took up a four-year goldsmith apprenticeship and moved to London in my final year with a plan to study design at Central Saint Martins. I never got around to it, so to this day I’m self-taught.
After graduating, I began selling my jewellery at weekend markets like Portobello and Shoreditch. My first collection was shaped by the pieces I sold; soon things started to take off, with stores placing orders. I officially launched the brand in 2010 – a few months after graduating – and we’ve since grown to a team of 20 people working from our Copenhagen office.
I’m a minimalist at heart, and I think of my designs as mini sculptures. I also do maximalism, but it’s always with refined details. Every piece is created in three stages that relate to different locations. In London I find inspiration from the city, and retreat to the peace and quiet of my home to begin sketching. In Copenhagen I have my bench and my team of skilled product developers. This is where we work on the ideas, create prototypes, and brainstorm how to actualize ideas. Then I work with my teams in India and Thailand to develop and finalise designs. I’m a perfectionist, so I need to be hands-on with my designs right until the end.”
SHOP MARIA BLACK
Stockholm-based jewellery brand All Blues was founded in 2010 by good friends Fredrik Nathorst and Jacob Skragge. Made from sterling silver and gold vermeil, the simple, sculptural designs introduce a minimalist mood to men’s jewellery. We spoke to Skragge about the roots and craftsmanship of the brand.
“We had no experience in jewellery design, fashion or business. To be honest, we had no experience whatsoever. It started as a hobby, with us making everything on our own using Fredrik’s mom’s kitchen table as our first ‘office’. This was shortly after we graduated from high school, so it was all done at night, running in parallel with our day jobs.
Now we have an office in an old garage-turned-studio in central Stockholm. The jewellery itself is handcrafted just outside the city at a third-generation goldsmith’s studio, so the process is very old-school and takes time.
We don’t force our designs to be unisex, but a lot of the time that’s just how they end up. Women’s jewellery has been around forever, so the market is more saturated, with thousands of pieces to choose from. For men, on the other hand, it’s the opposite, which makes it a really exciting area to explore.”
SHOP ALL BLUES
If it’s your first foray into men’s jewellery, start by keeping things simple – a signet ring or chain bracelet are easy to incorporate into your look. As confidence grows, try layering necklaces, adding earrings and wearing multiple rings.
Bleue Burnham launched his brand in 2018. Made in London, the label’s witty designs translate contemporary graphics and branding into three-dimensional form. Each piece is made from recycled gold or silver.
“I’ve always loved jewellery but struggled to find pieces for men that I liked. Everything seemed to be ruled by skulls. Then, around five years ago, a friend of mine taught me the basic principles of the wax-casting method. I spent my spare time practising to create jewellery that I felt was more in line with contemporary men’s style. Since then, my mission has been to move men away from simple jewellery and towards more stones, colour and meaning.
My studio is a mix of natural light, plants, art, books, colour and a very good set of speakers. All are important elements in my creative process. I spend a lot of time researching, considering the narrative, and developing ideas before prototyping.
I come from a background of environmental sustainability within the fashion industry, so this has naturally guided my approach to design. All Bleue Burnham jewellery is made in London using recycled precious metals. Our packaging is made from recycled foam, and we plant a tree to store carbon every time a piece of jewellery is sold.”
SHOP BLEUE BURNHAM
Mona Jensen started Tom Wood back in 2013 as a creative outlet from her busy day job as the head of a marketing agency. Named after her fictional alter-ego, the Oslo-based brand’s contemporary takes on signet rings and chain necklaces have proved a hit with cutting-edge concept stores.
“It all started with my wedding ring. I was having a hard time finding one I really liked, but then my husband found two vintage silver signet rings and I instantly fell in love. To personalise them, we engraved the date of our wedding on the top surface as a kind of secret code. Signets are traditionally worn by men, but times have changed. Our male and female customers tend to like a lot of the same pieces.
I come from a small and windy Island on the west coast of Norway where nature is rough, and the lifestyle is down to earth. I think my roots have had a major impact on the Tom Wood aesthetic, not just in terms of taking inspiration from the colour and shapes of nature but also the desire for functionality. I tend to focus mainly on quality handpicked materials, craftsmanship and how comfortable a piece is – not just whether it’s pretty.
Design and development take four to six months, and once we go into production it takes up to four weeks to make a piece. There’s a lot of craftsmanship involved, as each piece is cast individually from our moulds. Many hands and eyes are involved, from the filing and polishing to stone setting and quality control.”
SHOP TOM WOOD
MATCH YOUR METALS
Stick to one metallic at a time making sure to coordinate with your belt buckle, cufflinks and watch.