At More Affordable Retailers, Men’s Jewelry Is Booming

Men’s jewelry has been a growing category for several years now, as more men embrace fashion-forward styles beyond the traditional wedding band, watch and cuff links.

The growing interest has been seen among higher-end brands and specialty retailers for some time, and now the trend has trickled down to larger retailers such as Kay Jewelers, Jared, Zales and Helzberg Diamonds, which are meeting demand by continuing to expand their men’s jewelry assortments. Retailers have expanded their offerings with more styles created with 10- to 14-karat gold and with diamonds, with many pieces retailing for under $1,000.

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“In the last three years our focus and our efforts have grown exponentially in this category,” said Lisa Freeman, vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Zales. “We’ve taken this business back from a basic band and chain assortment to a full fashion assortment specifically designed for him. We’ve been in [the men’s jewelry] business all along, but it truly was just basic wedding bands and gold chains, so we have fully reinvented that category.”

Gender fluidity, experimentation and celebrities have been some of the main influences behind men embracing jewelry across the board, and jewelers are seeing shoppers interpret these influences in myriad ways.

“The trend really started to pick up in 2021,” said Ann Grimmett, vice president of merchandising at Jared. “That’s when you started seeing jewelry show up in a lot more places on celebrities and athletes. You started seeing guys wearing pearls and guys wearing tennis necklaces, bangle bracelets and things like that. You see people at red carpet movie premieres wearing a bunch of jewelry, musicians wearing a bunch of jewelry and it wasn’t just a ring or a watch or a gold chain — it was a lot more layering, stacking and mixing things together.”

Men's jewelry is growing in popularity at mass market retailers
A men’s tennis bracelet and necklace from Zales.

These larger retailers said they are experiencing growth across all styles within the men’s jewelry category, including with items that have long been bestsellers for women, such as tennis bracelets and necklaces, which are now bestsellers for men, too.

The companies said the styles are selling in high volumes both with natural diamonds and lab-created diamonds, as well as in alternative styles with black or brown diamonds.

At Kay Jewelers, standout sellers have also been in the earring category, with diamond studs and dangling styles gaining in popularity. Brooches are a more nascent trend, according to the retailer’s vice president of merchandising Stephanie Lawler, who explained customers are becoming more interested in the pieces thanks to celebrities wearing them on red carpets like Timothée Chalamet, Michael B. Jordan, Paul Mescal and others.

Zales, Jared and Helzberg Diamonds are additionally seeing growth within mixed metals, gold chains and alternative metals like dinosaur bone or titanium. Retailers are seeing the trend of stacking and layering jewelry, a long-standing practice for women, enter the men’s category.

“What we think is going to continue to happen is growth in men building their jewelry wardrobe to cover different aspects of their life,” Grimmett said. “So it’s not just one piece that you wear from morning until night. It’s that office style, that sort of rugged weekend style and the nighttime style, and really building options so it’s not just wearing the same piece all the time — although some people will do that. It’s building those options that are going to fit a variety of lifestyles for different men.”

Men's jewelry is growing in popularity at mass market retailers
A men’s ring from Kay Jewelers.

Retailers said they are marketing more to men as they build out jewelry collections with them in mind.

“Kay is known for its storytelling and we are showing [male customers] how to put looks together,” Lawler said. “It makes them more comfortable when they see it, whether it’s on our website or it’s in print — seeing a lot of layering and things that they may not have been comfortable with in the past.”

Helzberg Diamonds expanded its assortment in stores for men after the business saw high rates of self purchase.

“We saw that the male customer actually behaves differently than the female customer,” said Julie Yoakum, president and chief merchandising officer at Helzberg Diamonds. “The female customer comes in and self purchase is much harder for her at a higher ticket. But men were buying very expensive gold chains, so we said there’s something here for sure to expand. I would say we started in not all doors, but very quickly moved and the business has continued to go up since we’ve expanded.”

Going forward, the retailers anticipate that interest in men’s jewelry will continue to increase, and that the overall jewelry market will gravitate toward more gender-neutral marketing.

“It’s a continuation of sort of that fluidity in jewelry where it doesn’t have to be specifically made for a man or specifically made for a woman,” Grimmett said. “It’s jewelry that people love and they can wear it how they want.”

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