A watch or wedding band is no longer the only jewellery piece worn by Australian men…
Women are no longer the only ones lusting after items in jewellery store windows.
After years of wearing little, if any, jewellery beyond a watch or standard-issue wedding band, many Australian men are beginning to discover the joy of buying jewellery for themselves rather than their wives and/or girlfriends.
Fortunately Australian jewellery wholesalers have recognised this still small, but steadily growing, market and are meeting its wants and needs with a broad product range.
RJ Scanlan & Co is one such wholesaler. The company sells three jewellery collections aimed primarily at men – Dora, Soho and Teno Yukon.
Dora and Soho are dress and wedding ring collections while TenoYukon features bracelets, necklets and ‘beads’ called ‘elements’ made from rubber, steel, ceramics, wood and other “non-traditional jewellery materials”.
Scanlan general manager Stephen Brown believes the market for men’s jewellery is growing rapidly and that jewellery retailers must cater to its needs.
“Men are being influenced by magazines, celebrities, films, sports people and the surfing culture,” he says.
“For example David Beckham’s wedding ring was copied and sold around the world and The Lord of the Rings ring was actually sold as a piece of jewellery.”
This new daring in men’s jewellery choices is clearly reflected in RJ Scanlan’s Yukon range.
Made in Germany by Teno, Yukon is an extensive collection of bracelets and necklets that men can personalise with beads called “elements”.
There are over 100 elements incorporating a wide variety of materials such as steel, rubber, ceramics, wood and Mother of Pearl in the range.
Brown says the men buying Yukon are typically 20 to 30-year-olds although some “older men” are also purchasing the brand.
Scanlan’s Soho range is also finding an appreciative audience in the younger generation of Australian men – 20 to 30-year-old males who want to “look cool”.
Manufactured in sterling silver, steel, nine carat gold and titanium, the brand’s dress rings are round rather than flat-topped like traditional signet rings and “combine the metals in contemporary designs and patterns”.
“Traditionally most Australian men have only worn their wedding rings, or no rings at all, but many are now open to wearing more rings in bolder designs.”
Nonetheless Brown readily acknowledges that although Australian men are gradually growing more confident with wearing jewellery such as Yukon and Soho, women are still the major decision makers in the purchase of men’s wedding rings.
“We advertise Dora wedding rings in bridal magazines all around Australia as women almost always play a significant role in their purchase,” explains Brown.
And like men’s changing tastes in jewellery, the rings the women are choosing for their soon-to-be husbands are more daring than ever so the Dora range is made up of over 200 designs in 9, 14 and 18 carat gold as well as platinum and titanium.
“Ten years ago a typical men’s wedding was a nine carat half round or flat design but today it is likely to be something a lot more fancy and will often even include diamonds,” concludes Brown.
Cudworth Enterprises is another jewellery wholesaler targeting the male consumer with “modern designs”. The business, which has been selling men’s cufflinks since 1918 only began selling men’s jewellery “extensively” seven years ago but is clearly already reaping the benefits.
Director Neil McCammon says sales of the company’s Savage, Cudworth Steel, Cudworth Sterling Silver and Stahl men’s jewellery collection has grown so significantly that today it accounts for approximately 50 percent of total sales.
Featuring rings, bracelets, bangles, pendants, cufflinks and money clips. With a recommended retail price of less than $50 per item, Savage is an “inexpensive range of stainless steel jewellery for 18-25-year-old men looking for a look”.
Cudworth Sterling Silver offers cuff links, pendants, bangles, rings and bracelets in “classic and elegant designs” targeted at the mature male with retail prices between $100 and $150.
Cudworth Steel is a fashion-based range of stainless steel jewellery aimed at 25-50-year -olds in the “middle market” with individual pieces retailing for under $100 while Stahl, featuring steel and carbon fibre jewellery, is aimed at the top end of the men’s market with retail prices ranging from $299 to $399 per item.
According to McCammon, all four of Cudworth’s ranges are benefitting from men’s growing interest in jewellery.
“There has definitely been a shift in attitude towards men wearing jewellery over the years,” he says.
“The ‘metrosexual’ has made an impact.”
Nonetheless the company is still careful to select designs “that are as masculine as possible” so that they don’t “scare off the average Australian male”.
“We pick up designs that have an industrial edge to them or use high-tech materials such as carbon fibre or coloured fibre glass.”
McCammon believes the men’s jewellery buying trend is likely to continue its ascent.
“There is no reason for the trend to turn around,” he says. “Men are much more fashion-conscious now.”
Rory Cowan, the managing director of Hot Diamonds, has also witnessed the rapid ascension of men’s jewellery in the Australian market.
“When we started the company in Australia three years ago men’s jewellery only made up around five percent of our total jewellery sales but it now accounts for around 20 percent and shows no signs of abating,” he says.
“It’s not that long ago that the only jewellery most Australian men would wear was a simple chain or a ring but today many men are wearing earrings, bracelets and pendants.”
Readily acknowledging that many of the men wearing such jewellery are in the 18-35-year-old age bracket, Cowan says that he expects the age bracket to change as “the young men wearing the jewellery now continue to wear it as they grow older”.
He believes men’s jewellery growth trajectory in many ways parallels the growth in men’s watches in recent decades.
“Twenty years ago men did not spend thousands of dollars on a watch but gradually attitudes changed and men became aware of them as a fashion item and status symbol.
“I think we are now seeing that same attitude shift with men’s jewellery.”
To reflect this changing attitude, Hot Diamonds latest consumer advertising campaign featured a man and woman “wearing equal amounts of jewellery” and will be soon running a new advertisement featuring only a male model wearing jewellery.
“That would have been unthinkable to me just a few years ago,” says Cowan.
Indeed Lindsay’s sales and marketing manager Mark McNeil believes that men today are looking for jewellery in “revolutionary and fresh designs” made with materials other than gold and silver.
McNeil says that when the company began selling Morellato jewellery (stainless steel designs incorporating 18 carat gold, diamonds, enamel, carbon fibre, leather, ceramic and Swarovski crystals) in 2003, the only men’s jewellery available on the Australian market were “very traditional pieces that have been around since the 1970s” such as “gold chain and bracelets, signet rings, tie bars and cufflinks”.
“Things have changed a lot since then and the new male consumer of jewellery is looking for revolutionary and fresh designs made with different materials,” he says.
“A lot of men didn’t want to wear gold or silver jewellery so when a hard macho material like stainless steel came onto the market they embraced it.”
He says the Morellato range has recorded “another increase in sales” in the last 12 months and is confidant the growth will continue to “surge” despite the current economic climate.
Similarly, M+Y Steel is also glowing with recent sales success for its collection of men’s jewellery.
Manufactured from surgical steel with a polished or PVD coating, the range includes “everything from ring, pendants and bracelets to money clips and cuff links”.
Company co-director Steven Sher says men’s jewellery sales have been growing strongly for the last few years and “the last 12 months have been no exception”.
“The trend has been for men to consider jewellery as a normal part of their wardrobe and that stainless steel is now an acceptable material for jewellery. Neither of these facts were true 10 years ago.
“People are obviously influenced by what they read and see in the media both locally and internationally. The superstars of sport are now all wearing jewellery and the public follow their lead.”
Meanwhile Ross Paterson, the managing director of Paterson Fine Jewellery, has been experiencing steady sales of men’s jewellery in the last 12 months.
The company, which sells lined men’s rings, cufflinks and pendants in 9 carat gold and sterling silver with or without diamonds and semi-precious stones, has however noted an increase in sales of its silver items as the gold price has risen.
Paterson has also observed a move towards “trendier jewellery” featuring an array of materials beyond traditional metals and stones in the male jewellery market.
“Young men don’t value gold and silver like the older generation,” he says. “They don’t care what their jewellery is made of – they are happy to wear titanium, rubber, rope, stainless steel or plastic if they think it looks good.”
“I think they follow what sports stars like David Beckham and other idols are wearing and then copy them as much as possible.”
“They want bolder and louder types of jewellery that stands out.”
Not surprisingly, Paterson’s jewellery selection is aimed at the more conservative market of 30 plus men who value “traditional quality metals and stones”.
“Many men do like to wear quality pieces of jewellery and are very confident wearing it,” he says.
ADJ Jewellers director Aram Atakliyan agrees. He sells gold chains, bracelets and bangles to the male market.
He readily admits that many of his customers belong to distinct “ethnic groups” as many Anglo-Australian men are still “too conservative” to wear gold chains.
However despite the reluctance of some Anglo-Australians to wear gold chains Atakliyan believes that increasing numbers of Australian men are wearing jewellery.
“Twenty years ago men didn’t want to be seen wearing any jewellery – not even their wedding bands,” he recounts.
“Nowadays they are wearing more jewellery than ever and I can foresee a time when Australian men will, like European men, wear even more jewellery than women.”
He says that the trend for men, particularly younger men in the 15 to 25 age group, to wear jewellery is driven by advertising, sports stars and singers/rockstars (particularly rap stars).
Like Cowan from Hot Diamonds, Atakliyan believes men’s jewellery is becoming increasingly popular in the same way that watches became popular on the local market.
“Twenty years ago there were only about four watch brands on the Australian market as most men only owned one watch but today there are many brands to choose from and they’re all bigger, better, brighter and chunkier than ever before.”