There is a scene in the 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley, where Jude Law, as Dickie Greenleaf, heir to an enormous shipbuilding fortune; is making coffee for his - I suppose - friend Tom Ripley and girlfriend Marge Sherwood. The opening shot is filled with Dickies hand and wrist gripping the handle of the coffee machine, immediately your eyes are drawn to his roughly hewn emerald and gold ring, and they then turn to focus onto his silver Milanese mesh strapped sports watch. On the other side of the frame there is the chrome of the coffee machine and a porcelain cup beneath.
As Jewellery tends to be generally more expensive and we have less of it by comparison to clothes, we wear the same pieces more regularly or sometimes exclusively, it tends to be a big tell about a person.
There is a casual nonchalance in how Jude Law's character wears everything in the movie as if he just picked it up off the side and slipped it onto his finger or over his shoulders and they just seemed to work. Maybe this can only happen to the super rich, who don’t really have crap stuff and the best of everything is the norm. And so the highest end of the luxury market becomes “oh this old thing?”.
I digress, this article is supposed to be about man jewellery, what to choose and how not to let it wear you.
I’m personally not very keen on necklaces, unless you are from a catholic family or a Russian hitman covered in tattoos currently serving your time in some godforsaken Gulag, you should not wear one.
Rings and of course watches are a different story. Rings are great, provided they are not gigantic. I wear my great grandfathers signet ring he used to seal letters with and I truly believe that sentimentality outweighs price and material by a country fucking mile. My two favourite watches are the Oris my father gave to my mother on the day I was born, and the Fortis my dad saved up for when he was in his 20’s. On their own void of memory, they are quite unremarkable, but with stories, they carry something money cannot buy.
This is not to say you have to start making best buds with distant relatives before they kick the bucket, (but I do have my eyes on a family members 70’s Cartier tank). But the thing to remember when buying a piece is that it doesn’t have to be your story, or even anyone you have known's story, but the item itself as a piece of design may have cultural or historical value.
A boss of mine once told me about a Rolex he was thinking about buying at an auction which had been used by a British pilot to escape Colditz during the second world war. Having a bit of history on your wrist is far better than having a load of gold or silver. I had a friend at university who’s grandfather had shot down a Mitsubishi Zero and claimed the dash clock from the cockpit, strapped it to his wrist and wore it as his watch for 73 odd years. He was still wearing it the last time I saw him. Still… it Doesn’t have to be a war story although these two are; it can be about the purchase itself or why it was purchased, several clients of mine most prized watches were bought as a reward for a successful business venture or deal.
The one thing I am super jealous of is when you propose to that lucky guy or gal they get a ring, and they ain’t cheap… three months salary is the proper etiquette for an engagement ring. So what I wanna know is where’s mine? I should -we should- get and engagement Rolex or something right?
Bracelets can look great if you choose the right thing, and the wrong thing you see a lot of. Its really awful to see men and I mean fully grown, working men who can go to the bathroom on their own and everything; who wear woven or knotted bracelets. Its like the middle aged equivalent of keeping a festival pass on after the festival. Top gear dad as old fuck, no thank you. Nothing too elaborate either it still has to be classic elegant and most of all versatile a linked chain like the type Paul Newman or Marlon Brando wore.
Curating all of your pieces is just as important as what you buy in the first place, and as Dr Fraser Crane says “if you have very fine pieces of furniture it doesn’t matter if they match; they will go together”.
Words by Tom Heap