Diamonds, with their dazzling allure, have always been, as Marilyn Monroe once stated, a girl’s best friend. But throughout history, men have been equally dazzled by this sacred and precious gemstone. In fact, it may have been men who, throughout history, have been attracted more to bling than women.
Let’s take a look at men’s relationship with diamonds through the ages from Tutankhamon to Kayne West and all the lords, pirates, and villains in-between.
Nowadays diamond earrings for men are considered a recent fashion trend and designs are innovative and cutting edge, but mens diamond earrings have been around a lot longer than we may think. Jewellery for men was de rigueur as far back as written records go, and way beyond this. In North Africa, a shell necklace was recently discovered that was thought to date back 82,000 years.
Although ancient civilisation jewellery typically featured precious metals such as gold, silver, and semi-precious stones such as turquoise and lazuli, both Assyrians and Egyptian men reportedly wore diamond ear studs as a symbol of wealth, power, and divine connections. The Egyptians were ahead of their game in beauty and fashion, and being excellent craftsmen mounted the stones to metal with remarkable precision creating some of the most impressive trinkets of all time.
The Middle Ages and Royalty
Leading up to the Roman period (when earrings switched association from the ruling class to slaves) men’s earrings were popular among the nobility. By the middle-age period, European slaves were a distant memory and the trend returned. While diamond, ruby, and emerald earrings were reserved for royalty middle-class gentlemen would typically wear gold, pearl, and semi-precious stones as earrings.
Regency dandies had more than a touch of class about them. Both Shakespeare and King Charles 1 wore earrings. The resurgence of art, culture, and fashion in The Renaissance period brought along increasingly ornate jewellery symbolic of refined affluence worn by aristocrats and noblemen across the Western world.
The Golden Age of Piracy
The 17th and 18th-century pirates, privateers, and buccaneers certainly had an eye for a rock or two. These rugged and fearless men of the sea plundered precious and semi-precious stones (usually from the ships of state-sponsored thievery) by the chest-load. Captain Bartholomew Roberts was known to wear a diamond stud while boarding Spanish gallons and relieving them of their spoiled riches.
The elegant and sophisticated 20th-century Hollywood era brought diamonds to another level. Not only adorned by female starlets, male lead actors such as Clark Cable and Cary Grant also sported diamond ear studs. Diamonds were used as central plot devices in films such as 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.
Fast forward to the 1980s and 90s and the hip-hop world of fashion has taken over. Artists such as Run DMC and LL Cool J are embracing overside diamond studs and hoops. Moving into the 21st century we saw diamond-encrusted sportswear, and diamond mobile phone covers, and recently Kayne West took it one step further by having his entire bottom row of teeth replaced with a set of dazzling diamond choppers. So, there you have it, a history of diamonds and then men who worshipped them.