Excuse me ma’am, does that ring come in men’s sizes?
Ever since I was little, I KNEW there was something different about me. Since a young age, I often found myself looking into the wrong glass display case. Instead of looking at stuff I thought was acceptable for a young man such as myself to wear, I spent hours staring longingly at the colorful women’s jewelry on every long, exhausting trip to the mall with my mother. As I grew older, after collecting gems for most of my formative years, I started to realize that most men were fated to end up wearing a particular style of jewelry, depending on race, sexual orientation and choice of profession. These are just a few that I’ve seen over the years:
Thick gold chains = Hairy as Hell, Fat Italians
Long white gold/platinum necklaces w/diamonds(Bling-Bling) = Rappers, Fake Thugs
Hemp & bead necklaces = Potheads or Drug Addicts
Dog-tag necklaces = Military Men
Spiky dog collars or black chokers = Punk Rocker
Dragon’s claw rings and necklaces with superhero emblems = 40-Year Old Virgin
Any jewelry with colored gemstones = Homosexual
Where did this come from?
When did man start to believe that a REAL man only wears plain metal jewelry? Looking fresh is looking fresh, regardless of what it is. Maybe a man shouldn’t wear a pearl necklace, or wearing flowers in his hair, putting glitter on his skin or wearing lipstick, but jewelry? I’ve always been a fan of antique design, a period of our history when we put time and effort and care into making hand-crafted objects to idolize and cherish. To stare at again and again and remember every detail and pattern that took hundreds of hours of hammering and carving to make.
Just as an example, take the time to actually look at a hand-forged Katana(Japanese sword)from the 18th and 19th century http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-Samurai-Sword-Katana-Signed-MINAMOTO-KIYOMARO-August-1851-AD-/230847822537?pt=Asian_Antiques&hash=item35bf9a3ac9. You can’t possibly imagine how much time went into making a sword like that one. What makes the craftsmanship so fascinating is the knowledge that this piece of forged carbon steel was just as important as food, clothing, water or shelter. During most of Japan’s history, the craftsmanship of a sword was only as good as it’s ability to hold an edge, to defend its owner from marauding bandits, rapists and worse. If your engagement ring got a crack, it wouldn’t break during battle and get you and your family killed.
This is just talking about the sword blade alone. After countless long days standing in front of a blistering hot furnace, what craftsman today would take the time to forge a beautifully made scabbard(sword sheath), wrap the hilt(handle) in stingray skin leather and engrave everything in cranes, dragons, cherry blossoms, etc., all by HAND?? Practically no one. These days, just about everything is mass-produced on factory assembly lines, stamped from huge sheets of metal into uniform shape and size. Started by machines and finished by machines. Even when human hands still cut the gems and hammer the metal, the level of skill and commitment necessary to make family heirlooms has nearly disappeared.
Rather than complain all day and do nothing about the source of the problem, I’ve decided to let my hands do the talking. I’ve begun the long and arduous process of designing my own hand-crafted jewelry. It really bothers me that the things I’m looking for in a piece of jewelry, especially MEN’S jewelry, don’t exist or exist but cost an obscene amount of money, so I’ll try to make it myself. I’m doing this or a few simple reasons:
1. Jewelry made by hand will ALWAYS be better than jewelry made by factories and assembly lines. There are simply too many techniques, passed down from master to student, that cannot be reproduced by a machine. Some things are better left to machines that can make an exact duplicate, every single time.When making parts for a stealth fighter-jet or a computer that keeps my heart ticking, I’ll take the machine every time. When selecting a piece of jewelry that symbolizes my eternal love for my wife, I’ll take the master craftsman.
2. Most jewelry made today meets far less-exacting standards. There are a lot more people living on the earth today than ever before. Instead of millions, there are billions of people, each wanting goods and services. A single machine can make countless more pieces of jewelry than even a handful of men. The jewelry they make have a lot less craftsmanship, but a combination of mass-production and lower prices can collectively earn more money. After you die and your family is auctioning off your estate, if your jewelry can only be melted down and sold as scrap metal by weight, the craftsmanship probably isn’t very good.
3. I think it’s WAY past time someone re-introduce the pleasure of enjoying colored gemstones to the modern man. There is absolutely nothing wrong with women wearing emeralds, rubies, sapphires, opals, tanzanite, garnet and topaz; I just think it would be a better world if men didn’t constantly worry someone was going to call them a homosexual every time they wear someone other than colorless diamonds. Not that chocolate or black diamonds are worthless, it’s just most of their value depends on commercials & advertising. Trust me when I tell you that wearing imperial peach topaz earrings will in no way make you less attractive to women; More likely they will shout: “Here’s a courageous man, comfortable with his masculinity and willing to show it by wearing expensive peach/pink earrings.” My jewelry will set my customers apart from the crowd.
4. It’s probably not as hard as you think to create beautiful, interesting, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that my customers will want to eventually pass down to their children and grandchildren. All it takes is a little dedication, a little creativity and a fair amount of technical skill. To me, the most important aspect of jewelry-making is that you make your items with passion, ensuring the fact that a little piece of my soul remains inside every finished work. I think that sounds like something worth sharing.
5. Go ahead and plug “Handmade Jewelry” into your favorite search engine. Look at a bunch of jewelry-selling websites. I don’t care which one, it probably won’t matter, most of them look the same anyway. The only difference are the prices, I think most of the time they are just making it up along the way. Would it be so hard to stop making the same old rings and earrings, devoid of any originality? Jewelry packed with the same generic synthetic-gemstones whether you stop by Kay, Wal-Mart or Costco. These cheap knock-offs are no replacement for the colored gems found in nature.
6. Here’s a big problem I have with men’s jewelry… especially those ugly ass wedding rings! Not only do companies push cheap, tiny, nearly worthless diamonds on us(note: they’re called Melee diamonds), they charge exorbitant prices for a piece of jewelry that sometimes isn’t worth even 10% of its retail price. A bulky, tasteless gold ring with half a carat worth of diamonds sometimes cost over $1500 on average. The tiny diamonds aren’t even usually of good quality, frequently being tinted yellow/brown and being visibly flawed. How do you get VISIBLE flaws in a diamond 1/100th of a carat( 0.02 grams)??? Especially in a ring that’s mass-produced, with barely a whisper of filigree-work, engraving or general craftsmanship.
Big jewelry store chains like Jared the Galleria, Kay, Littman, Shaw and Helzberg diamonds are fleecing the public, padding they’re collective bottom-line by selling wholesale jewelry at retail prices, taking advantage of the ignorance and stupidity of the average consumer. It’s up to me and the other small local businesses to give them a better option. By creating a market for hand-crafted goods with beautiful colored gemstones, we will be helping them save money for more important things, like honeymoon vacations or buying a car.
At least this is what I hope for, changes I will strive to bring about in the jewelry business. People are willing to shell out their hard-earned income on expensive jewelry, as long as it’s tasteful, classy and most importantly, they don’t feel instant buyer’s remorse for being duped or hoodwinked. Why pay retail price for jewelry when it’s usually not worth the metal & gemstones it’s made from.
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