Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History

Gentlemen's Jewellery Through the Ages

Men jewellery

Over the course of history gentlemen have adorned themselves with an array of jewels.

In the Roman Empire, jewellery was worn by men as a means of declaring their status, wealth or rank. One of the most prominent pieces of jewellery were rings, often displaying their family crest, seal or initials. In Ancient Rome, the complexity of the engraved designs meant that seals couldn’t be copied and used by other people without the owner’s permission. These rings remain very wearable today and are a popular alternative to the traditional wedding band.

Likewise, rings created by the Vikings also make for a very wearable piece of jewellery and were handcrafted in an array of styles featuring twists, knots and stamped patterns. Jewellery also functioned as a form of portable bullion and sections would be hacked off when needed to pay for goods or services.

The wearing of jewellery was also prevalent among men in the Byzantine Empire. From tradesmen right through to the Emperor himself it was common for most households to own at least a couple of gold rings. Names and monograms were often engraved onto signet rings and pectoral ornaments based on coinage were worn by the military as a form of decoration.

In the Medieval era rings remained a favourite accessory of gentlemen. In particular amethysts can be seen in many rings and were worn by religious leaders as the colour purple was associated with penitence. Amethyst was also a popular choice with kings, featuring in the crown jewels. Due to the rarity and cost of coloured gemstones and diamonds at this time, they were worn only by the upper echelons of society as a way of displaying their wealth.

Whilst signet style rings continued to be popular among gentlemen, the widespread use of cufflinks dates to the eighteenth century, when examples of joined pairs of cuff buttons begin to regularly appear, replacing ribbon ties. Cufflinks have remained a key accessory and moving into the twentieth century, world renowned jewellery houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier began creating cufflinks, alongside other accessories such as tie pins and dress sets.

Today there are infinite possibilities. Whether you are looking for jewellery to make a statement, symbolise a special union, or to accompany an outfit, look no further than our collection of ancient, antique and vintage men’s jewellery. Our entire collection is available to view online, in our Hatton Garden showroom or via zoom appointment. We are open Monday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm.

Byzantine silver niello ring berganza hatton garden
Byzantine silver and niello guilloche ring, circa 12th-14th century AD.
Ref: 26396
Cartier ruby and diamond winning post pin, berganza hatton garden
Cartier ruby and diamond winning post pin, French, circa 1910.
Ref: 25364
art deco sapphire diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Art Deco diamond and sapphire ring, circa 1935.
Ref: 18086
front view Onyx and diamond gentleman's dress set, English, circa 1955.
Onyx and diamond gentleman's dress set, English, circa 1955.
Ref: 25493
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Updated 19/05/2024 at 1:34PM

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