Men have been wearing jewellery throughout the course history. In ancient Egypt everyone from the lowly farmers to the god-like pharaohs sported some form of bling. After a historical hiatus — when jewellery started to be marketed to only women’s fashion and the designs became more effeminate — men’s jewellery has come back with a vengeance.

Habib, is spearheading the change here on home turf with the introduction of Stephen Webster to Malaysia. Stephen Webster, a London-based British Fine jeweller, has a reputation for producing some of the finest jewellery for men and the brand is now available exclusively with Habib. Marissa Meer has returned to Malaysia and joined her father Dato’ Sri Meer Sadik Habib in the family business, after graduating from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and the Graduate Gemologist Program at the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). Representing the third generation of Habib Jewellers, who better to turn to for some advice on men’s jewellery.

Marissa Meer

Why isn’t the men’s jewellery market bigger here in Malaysia?
Culturally, Malaysian (especially Malay) men are quite conservative. As a result, they buy jewellery that is more functional. For example, we usually sell jewellery like cufflinks or butang baju Melayu rather than the ones simply for adornment. As we move forward to become a more cosmopolitan society, we have found that slowly the market for men’s jewellery is actually growing. However, due to the fact that there was little demand for men’s jewellery in the past, not many Malaysian jewellers produce pieces specifically for men. The product offering was not very extensive or interesting, so we have identified this as a gap in the market.  The collection and designs offered by Stephen Webster’s men’s jewellery are very suitable for men in Malaysia and ever since its recent introduction to the market, we have gotten an overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Rings can really make or break a look. Wear too many and you’ll look like you’re trying too hard.  If they have too much bling on them then bid farewell to any masculine appeal. Try to avoid wearing them on both hands as it can look and feel clunky. Stick to simple designs with a single band. Rings can heighten a formal look and add bold accents to casual styles or streetwear. Finally, unless it is a wedding band and you are married or engaged, never ever wear anything on your left hand’s ring finger.

What makes Stephen Webster’s men’s jewellery so unique?
Stephen Webster, himself, is someone who is a designer with a background in jewellery-making — in fact, Webster started off on the bench as a metalsmith even before becoming a designer. As a result of this, his understanding of the technical aspects of jewellery making is incredibly unique and he has become widely renowned in the industry for his exceptional quality and attention to detail. Webster is someone who loves to experiment with new techniques, new materials and different gemstones. For example, some of his bracelet collections for men are made from ceramic instead of metal.

Bracelets give you an extra edge that can transform a simple look. However, men should never overstate their bracelet with too many gems, jewels or pendants as nothing on your arm should detract from the most important accessory all men should be armed with — a good watch. A neat metal bangle or leather band can go a long way. This Stephen Webster Half Corona Clasp with black sapphires and malachite on ceramic links. Just a hint of colour on a very masculine band, this piece is perfect to upgrade your style without being too overstated but remaining unique.

Why should men wear jewellery?
I think men should wear jewellery as a way to express themselves. The way we define masculinity often changes, and men today want to also have a unique way of conveying their personality. Wearing jewellery is a statement and it definitely shows a level of confidence!

What type of jewellery should men buy?
In my opinion, men should buy and wear jewellery that is very simple. Often, I find what works best for men is wearing jewellery that has a greater significance or meaning behind the piece — for example, a birthstone. Buying jewellery is a brilliant way for men to be able to purchase meaningful art that can simultaneously be worn!

Necklaces are probably the most effeminate of jewellery pieces but with the right balance and style, it can really add a masculine swag your look. A man’s necklace chain should always be classic and minimal — thin gold or silver chains will do. If you’re wearing a pendant then it must have some character. This Stephen Webster Switch Blade Pendant set in sterling silver with white mother of pearl is an extremely masculine design yet doesn’t scream too loud either.

What type of jewellery should men avoid?
For men, it is important to avoid jewellery that is overly flashy or too big. I think it is always important to consider the reach, especially if it is one of your first pieces of jewellery. Ask yourself the question, “how often can I wear this piece?” or, “is it functional enough to suit my daily life?”

Every man should have a good white dress shirt in their wardrobe and therefore a good set of cufflinks to go with them. Good cufflinks are a sign of sophistication and can make the difference to your formal wear. Leopard Cufflinks set in sterling silver with rose gold plates is exactly the touch of colour you’ll want to accent those cuffs protruding from your suit sleeves.

What other tips do you have for men buying jewellery? 
Jewellery, in general, is very much dependent on your own style and personality. It is always important to recognise who you are and how you can translate that into a piece of jewellery. When it comes to gemstone pieces, men prefer to go for cabochon cut stones instead of faceted stones. Similar to art, there are also gemstones that may be considered as rare collectors’ items and advisable as investment pieces.

Some Muslim men, because of religious beliefs, are not encouraged to wear gold, as gold is meant for women. Therefore, if Muslim men are particular, it is advisable for them to wear other metals such as silver, titanium or platinum. All of our Stephen Webster men’s jewellery pieces are made in silver, ceramic and leather.

 

 

Tengku Muzhaffar Petra
Watches and Culture Editor