When you build a jewelry collection, it’s hard to know where to start. Although you should follow your style instinct and buy things you love, it’s a good idea to make sure you have all the essentials in your collection. This list of seven timeless pieces will never go out of style and are worth investing in.
Wearing gold neck chains is said to have first been fashionable in ancient Egypt, though it may go back even further than that. Men around the globe continue to wear necklaces today, often with a meaningful pendant, and no jewelry enthusiast’s collection would be complete without several gold chains for men in key styles.
1. A Cuban Link Chain
Cuban link chains are one of the most popular styles of chain available and can often be seen on rappers, hip-hop artists, and ballplayers. Jay-Z is a big fan of the Cuban link, so much so that he dropped $200,000 on an 11-pound solid gold piece that’s one of the most expensive chains in the music industry.
These chains have thick links that are connected so that the thickness is emphasized, making them eye-catching and durable. Their wide links are also ideal for diamonds, which is perfect if you love iced-out jewelry. If you’re building a jewelry collection, a gold Cuban link chain should be top of your list.
For a classic look, opt for yellow gold, or add a unique vintage spin to your collection with a rose or white gold model. Cuban links look equally good at all chain widths, from delicate 2.5 mm to imposing 20 mm. Heavy pendants work well with this kind of necklace as the thick links are strong enough to hold their weight, particularly if you opt for a solid, rather than a hollow, chain.
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2. A Figaro Chain
Figaro chains are said to have been named after lead characters in the operas The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. The design, which comprises two or three small links followed by one long oval link, originates from Italy, and the best examples are still manufactured there.
This attractive design means they stand out without a pendant, although they are commonly worn with crosses or religious medallions. For a timeless Figaro look, opt for a thin link in yellow gold.
3. A Rope Chain
Unlike Cuban and Figaro links, which call attention to the shape of their links, rope chains are made from many thin, unassuming links that, together, create a striking twisted pattern which looks similar to a real rope.
Small, delicate rope chains are popular with men and women alike and are often used to display pendants. Heavier rope chains, however, look extremely dramatic with their twisted design and are typically worn alone. The rope chain was ubiquitous in the hip-hop culture of the late 80s and early 90s and is still frequently seen today.
4. A Gold Chain Bracelet
There’s a wide variety of men’s bracelets on the market, from bangles to diamond tennis bracelets, but every jewelry collector should have a gold chain bracelet. The most popular bracelet chain styles are the same as neck chains: Cuban link, Figaro, rope, curb, and Franco, to name a few. If you want to add some bling to your chain bracelet, opt for a nice thick Cuban link. For a personal touch, get an ID bracelet with an engraved message.
Once you’ve collected a few high-quality gold chains, you can have fun shopping around for some pendants to match. If you’re buying your pendant separately from your chain, make sure you let your jeweler know the style and thickness of your necklace so they can ensure your pendant is fitted with a suitable bail.
5. A Dog Tag
There are many theories about where the name “dog tag” came from, with one hypothesis claiming that they look like the identifying tags seen on dog collars. This theory suggests that they were first worn in the American Civil War by soldiers who were afraid that nobody could identify their bodies if they died, and they would consequently be buried in unmarked graves. By WWII, dog tags were an official part of the army’s uniform, and their design remains relatively unchanged today.
Since the 90s, when rappers and hip-hop artists wore them, dog tags have been a staple of jewelry fashion. Jewelry enthusiasts express their identity through their tags, as did soldiers back in the 19th century, customizing them with images, text, diamonds, and even photos.
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6. An Iced-Out Pendant
These days, pendants come in virtually any design and are a great way to add a bit of personality to your jewelry box. Whether you love religious iconographies, such as a cross or Star of David, an animal like a snake or tiger, or a fun design that expresses your personality and interests, such as a pack of cards or basketball hoop, you can always make it better with a sprinkle of ice.
Every jewelry collection should have some bling, even if it’s not something you wear every day. Diamonds never go out of style, and wearing them is an experience everyone should have.
7. A Signet Ring
Signet rings were originally decorated with a family crest, and people used them to sign or stamp documents by pressing them into wax. They have remained popular long after their use as an identifier, and many families pass them from generation to generation.
Signet rings are often used to express identity, with people engraving them with their initials or a meaningful logo. There are huge variations in style, including the shape, size, and decoration, so you’re sure to find a look that suits your aesthetic. Signet rings are a bold statement piece that is ideal for everyday wear, or you can opt for a more dramatic look and wear multiple signet rings in different designs on each of your fingers.
Rings are high-impact pieces and prone to dents and scratches. When choosing a signet ring, opt for 10k gold over 14k, as the metal is harder and more scratch-resistant.
Express Yourself When Choosing Jewelry
One thing jewelry enthusiasts enjoy about collecting and wearing fine jewelry is how it allows you to express yourself. Every choice you make about your jewelry style, even among staple pieces such as signet rings and Cuban link neck chains, speaks to who you are and your taste. Starting a collection with the pieces in this list can give you a solid foundation from which you can have fun with more experimental models.