x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Jewellery is not a man's best friend

What's the verdict on men wearing jewellery?

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s meant I saw the extremes when it came to pop icons and their jewellery. In the 1970s, it was the television star Lee Majors (Farrah Fawcett's first husband, who starred in the 1974-78 show The Six Million Dollar Man) and his open shirt sans necklaces. On the big screen, it was Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, two men who defined cool and wore very little jewellery. The most you saw either man wearing was a watch and perhaps a chain. Thirty-five years ago, the sporting world's stars had yet to express any interest in earrings and only a few wore their championship rings.

Then in the 1980s, men and their jewellery went on a mission to make up for lost time and nothing personified this quest better than Mr T, the star of Rocky III (1982) and The A-Team (1983-87) and the emerging stars of the rap world. Jewellery quickly became acceptable for men. Rappers were not shy about donning thick, rope-like gold necklaces (think of the guys from Run-DMC). Earrings became popular for more mainstream musicians as well, such as Bruce Springsteen, who at one point was sporting at least eight earrings in his left ear and another four in his right. In the 1980s, there was a new look in town, and its name was bling.

Today's fashionable man continues to be bombarded with images of Hollywood, Bollywood and sports stars wearing watches, bracelets, necklaces and every kind of ring through just about anything that can be pierced: Johnny Depp adorns his neck and wrists with bandannas, leather straps, string and chains; Salman Khan wears an earring in each ear that most 65-year-old women would find gaudy; the triple-jumper Phillips Idowu has a small arrow through his eyebrow; the ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash has a nose ring; and the former NBA player Dennis Rodman has his bottom lip, belly button and nipples pierced. What men need to accept is that the bling must be kept to a minimum. No one is Mr T anymore - not even Mr T.

When it comes to jewellery on men, less is more, to steal a phrase from the English poet Robert Browning. A wedding ring is acceptable and so is a watch and that, I'm afraid, is it. No university rings or championship rings. If Wayne Gretzky doesn't wear any of the four Stanley Cup rings he won with the Edmonton Oilers and if Joe DiMaggio only wore his 1936 rookie-season World Series ring (and he ended up winning nine), then none of us mere mortals should wear them.

Still, a championship ring is not the worst a man can do. That honour goes to the dreaded pinkie ring. The former ABC news anchorman and Canadian Peter Jennings wore one and Prince Charles wears one. The former is deceased and the latter is the future king of England and neither one can change my opinion about its appeal. It would be better to be a member of the yakuza and lose the entire pinkie - and then the pinkie ring could do no damage.


Ÿ Michael Jabri-Pickett is the news editor at The National.