A History of Celtic Jewlery for Men [Part 2]

In our last blog post we began to delve into the history and evolving style of celtic jewelry for men over the ages which, contrary to common belief, has often matched that of female’s jewelry with its own unique style and craftsmanship.  Emerging during the Bronze Age, men’s celtic jewelry continually evolved throughout that period and onto the Middle Ages which saw the introduction of more exotic materials and gemstones. In this blog post, the emergence of the early modern jewelry to more more contemporary styles are examined.

Early modern jewelry

Having seen the introduction of more decorative and gemstones during the Middle Ages, the techniques of jewelry making became ever more advanced from the 17th century onwards with increasingly attractive and elaborate results. Rather than just simply polishing gems, they were ornately cut to provide added sparkle in combination with the ever darker styles for men, in particular, meant that celtic jewelry  need to dazzle and stand out.

Botanics and bow designs became increasingly popular, only adding to the luxury and opulence of jewelry during the 17th & 18th centuries. The use of gemstones or, alternatively, polished enamel continued to grow which generally featured detailed artistic depictions of animals, family crests and portraits among others things. Inspiration by designers was sought from bygone eras such as the ancient Greeks, Romans, or Egyptians. Not only was inspiration garnered from these ancient dynasties but also from Renaissance art and, in particular, the immensely popular natural world.

The 18th century also saw the industrial revolution was taking place, making jewelry more affordable and accessible to a greater proportion of society at the time. The greater availability of jewelry was positively received initially but after a period of time more and more people became overly accustomed with the homogenous styles and fashions of the time, and demanded more unique pieces. As a result, hand crafted jewelry became universally popular again, initially this was restricted to the upper classes of society but soon its popularity filtered down through the other social classes. The greater accessibility to jewelry was also timely with improved working conditions which gave the middle classes greater disposable income.

From 1900 onwards, jewelry designers moved away from seeking retrospective inspiration towards creating more contemporary and unique styles using geometric patterns or influences from Asian and the far east.

Contemporary  jewelry styles for men

Men’s styles are ever changing although perhaps don’t evolve so quickly as women’s fashion. What ahas changed throughout the centuries is the manner in which men wear their jewelry. During the late 16th and throughout the 17th century, it was not uncommon for a man to wear a single earring on one ear, typically a celtic style earring. As fashion in men’s clothing continued to evolve, so their styles of decorative jewelry evolved with it.

In many cases, jewelry was practical as well as decorative. Watch chains came about when the fashion for big voluminous trousers changed to skin-tight pantaloons, and there was no folds or pockets in which to store a timepiece. Cufflinks too served to keep sleeves closed as well as looking good!

In more recent times, popular men’s jewelry includes necessary accessories such as cufflinks, tie pins, rings, pendants, and of course, watches. These have often been the perfect items to choose as Irish gifts for men throughout the years. Simple chain necklaces are also ever popular. Styles and fashions are incredibly varied depending on the place, age, profession, and personal taste of the person in question.


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