Manly jewellery, or the delicate art of gendered marketing

Recently, I have started making cufflinks. I had wanted for a while now to try making jewellery for men. I did not expect to stumble upon the very type of obstacle I hate most, which made me question my design choices a lot more than usual.

jewellery for men

 

Jewellery is for girls

This notion, as sexist and moronic as it is, is everywhere. Real men don’t wear accessories, they are not interested in fashion, and if they do there must be something wrong with them. I will not rant too long on this matter because there is so much to say and I don’t feel qualified enough for it. But there is something furiously unhealthy in our society.

 

Manly designs

When you look up “jewellery for men” on the internet, you get very simple things made with leather, metal, chain. The designs have lots of angles and straight lines, dark colours, wide seams or links, rough looks.

It would seem the 21st century man is supposed to be a suit-clad caveman with everything about him very large and very sturdy (there was so much potential for a joke about size and/or hardness here, be thankful I’m a classy person).

So here I come, all about round shapes and lively colours, ready to conquer the manly market. I would love to make things in leather but it’s not something one can improvise; I have too much to learn before starting and now is not the time. Metal is coming, but slowly. This was not looking very promising…

 

Go old or go funny

After a time of reflexion, the first easy-to-make accessories I decided to try were cufflinks. I liked this idea because I could keep using the materials I enjoy: metal and gemstones.

But cufflinks are either old school or a joke: as far as I know, nowadays, people only buy it for occasions such as weddings or to make a silly gift. I guess it says a lot about how masculinity in fashion has changed over time. Accessories for men, I find, are very limited, just like styles of clothes. Professional wear? Nothing much there except suits. Formal event? Suits again, or maybe a tuxedo if it is really formal.

For women, on any day and any occasion, tons of options are available! Who said that men don’t like diversity in their clothing and women do? Why is it considered effeminate for a man to like jewellery? And why would something ‘effeminate’ on a man be such a bad thing anyway?

 

Marketing outside of the box

We are all influenced by the buttloads of images and sounds we receive daily, that spread all the dumbest clichés. I look at what I make and keep wondering: ‘Is it too girly?’. And then I get pissed off at myself for falling into that trap again.

I have yet to find the delicate balance needed to try to make things that get out of those stupid constraints while also trying to sell them. It is not easy to reconcile your deepest convictions with… well, marketing.

 

In the end, I still finished my cufflinks. I made them in my own style and I’m happy with them. I am not one to be discouraged by ideas I despise, however prevalent they may be.

jewellery for men

Does this look girly to you? I don’t know anymore. I have decided to stop caring.

 

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Berber jewellery

I’m lucky enough that my father’s better half is the kindest Moroccan lady in the world. On their last visit to her family, they bought me loads of beautiful typical beads. Of course, I had to honour it.

The beads typically have an irregular look that give them a lively handcrafted charm. It’s a real pleasure to work with it.

Basma berber jewellery
Necklace ‘Basma’ – Turquoise gemstones

Lamis berber jewellery

Earrings ‘Lamis’ – Turquoise gemstones

Alina berber jewellery

Earrings ‘Alina’ – Traditional Berber enamelled beads

Nassim berber jewellery

Earrings ‘Nassim’ – Traditional Berber beads

More to come soon!

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The Infernal Cycle

Jewellery making cycle

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Sketching #3

Jewellery sketching

Handmade scales earrings

Earrings ‘Servane’ – Anodized aluminium and wire
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Scales galore

I finally received my last Ring Lord order! It came on a sloooooow boat and was then nearly lost by the stupid French Post. But now it’s here, and it’s mine! So many thing to make with it!

Ring lord scales

Link to The Ring Lord website for those interested.

And here is an example of scalemaille jewellery in my shop:

Scalemaille necklace Adelaide

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Creations #7

Basilie-earrings3

Basilie – Sodalite chips and silvertone beads

Cendrine-earrings5

Cendrine – Czech glass beads and silvertone metal caps

Elvire-earrings3

Elvire – Garnet chips and silvertone rings

Estelle-earrings3

Estelle – Hematite chips

Frida-necklace3

Frida – Blue agate beads and silvertone chain
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Thea, multistrand necklace

Here is the final result from last time’s post about a Viking-inspired multistrand necklace! I’m quite happy about it. It does not have much in common with Viking jewellery in the end, but that hardly matters.

Thea - multistrand necklace

Thea - multistrand necklace

Thea - multistrand necklace

Thea, multistrand necklace, amazonite and blue agate gemstones. 

Now for sale in the shop (click on the pictures)!

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Work in progress #2

I’ve recently been inspired by Viking jewellery. I love the turtle brooches with several strands of beads. I’m trying to make something close with the materials I have laying around.

A word of warning: making jewellery is not my main activity. Therefore, I never took the time and money to put together a good working space. I work on my cluttered living room table, with terrible lighting and even worse seating. I don’t give much of a damn about my comfort, so let it be known I’m quite a bad example.

WIP-viking1

Yes, I put my beads in a tin box that once contained cheese crackers… The computer is for picture reference and music.

WIP-viking2

Even after sketching, I prefer to lay down all the beads and pieces. What I have in mind and what is possible or better looking are often different. Plus, it makes me check if I actually have enough material to make the whole necklace.

WIP-viking3

I mixed amazonite and blue agate with silver-coloured chandeliers that can hold three strands of beads. Their style is rather victorian(ish) than Viking, but nevermind, it’s still pretty. I’m adding some metal beads and caps here and there.

Final result coming soon!

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Sketching #2

Preliminary sketches…

Fanette-sketch1low Fanette-sketch2low

Final result:

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Happy New Year 2016

Voeux2016-1

This year will be jewelled.

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