So what does this have to do with bench work? Well, there’s a lot to be said about creating a custom piece that is unique, fashionable, challenging to produce, and strikes the right chord with a demographic that appreciates the techie things in life. Some of my recent designs for men’s jewellery include cufflinks with interchangeable components, appealing to that breed of man who has a collection of interesting links. Using German-made bayonet clasp findings, I designed a basic link component that can be worn with a simple logo back and a variety of fronts or used with complementary decorative fronts and backs.
The pictures on page 3 are links set with ancient Roman silver coins (depicting an emperor and an empress) and a collection of four different colours of South Sea pearls that can be worn in any combination. It is important to pay attention to the orientation of the cufflink in relation to the shirt cuff. The finding that goes through the buttonholes must match their direction (i.e. perpendicular to the length of the arm), while the decorative component typically looks best with the long axis (if there is one) running parallel with the sleeve.
The ‘Green Arrow’ cufflinks in white gold seen above are set with black jade and meteorite, round bezel-set tsavorite garnets, and a sweep of bead-set black diamonds. The 2014 Spectrum Award-winning ‘HEXactly’ cufflinks seen on the bottom of page 40 are double-sided—one side with slices of emerald accented by yellow diamonds in yellow gold, while the reverse is white gold set with blue sapphire slices. The ‘Orleans’ links seen above them are set with German-carved druzy black agate fleur-de-lis accented with white gold and diamonds, and are complemented by carved moonstones for more dressy wear.
Since cufflinks are subject to potential wear and tear, especially when worn on a regular basis, the metals and gemstones used should be durable. For dress wear, consider using materials that may be more delicate and decorative.
Men that wear suits can be persuaded to don lapel pins. These can be simple gold or silver designs or more elaborate, such as ‘Kryptonite’ seen above. Generally, lapel pins are longer than wide to sit comfortably on a gentleman’s jacket. As such, they shouldn’t be too bulky and the pin finding must be aligned to provide secure and balanced attachment.
Of course, wedding bands are the most common men’s jewellery. Due to workplace restrictions, some gents cannot wear rings. For those who can and who are adventurous enough to wear more than a simple gold band, an offset design like the one seen above may be an option. In this set, the ladies’ ring includes a line of pavé white diamonds, while the men’s ring is embellished by a similar line of black diamonds. More simple is a plain gold offset band with sleek polished bevelled surfaces, while another has one half paved with tiny black diamonds. Offset rings fit many hands better than rings that are straight across. Their shape makes it possible to wear a wider band without bumping the knuckle of the adjacent pinkie finger. This design detail is also a more efficient use of the joint of the finger where it is worn. However, even though clients typically find the ring very comfortable, some individuals (particularly engineers and accountants) simply prefer not to wear one—the offset design upsets their sense of ‘balance.’
My request to my fellow jewellery designers and retailers is do your part to take advantage of the current trend, especially among your younger clientele, for interesting and varied jewellery for men. If we offer options beyond the traditional pedestrian selection that is likely sitting in your showcases, you will find there is a market to tap. Men are much more adventurous than they have ever been and their sense of personal style is strong. And don’t forget to appeal to the women in their lives—they buy pieces for their partners, if only to ‘justify’ more jewellery for themselves in exchange! Men may not again be the peacocks of past centuries, but deep down that impulse still lives on.
Llyn L. Strelau is the owner of Jewels by Design, a designer-goldsmith studio in Calgary established in 1984. His firm specializes in custom jewellery design for a local and international clientele. Strelau has received numerous design awards, including the American Gem Trade Association’s (AGTA’s) Spectrum Awards and De Beers’ Beyond Tradition—A Celebration of Canadian Craft. His work has also been published in Masters: Gemstones, Major Works by Leading Jewelers. Strelau can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.