Men can do many things easier than women can: make money, edit Wikipedia, even cook. But women have us beat in the jewelry department. It’s hard for a necklace around a lady’s neck to turn her into a tool, but for us men, necklaces are a minefield. There are just so many ways it can go wrong. Even a simple chain can be too long or too short, too thick or too dainty. And think of a charm or a medallion. If a man is religious he can always fall back on the symbol of his faith—cross, star, crescent, a host of saints, whatever—but if he recognizes no higher power, as I do not, what icon must he cling to?
There are many things to be wary of when it comes to mewelry. Skulls, for instance, firmly plant one in the leather-cuff-wearing bro set. Razor blades are a bit try-hardy and ’90s. And dog tags are cool—if you’ve been in the military, but they’re manifestly uncool if you haven’t.
Then there’s the fundamental issue of whether the medallion is meant to mean something or not. I’ve been trying not to be a tool wearing a rose gold anchor from the Miami-based men’s jewelry maker Miansai. I’m no sailor, soldier, tinker nor spy. But an anchor is suitably generic and graphic that I don’t feel like I’m posing as a pirate or claiming a false history at sea. It’s just a fun, graphic, classy shape.
Length of chain and its thickness, choice of charm and its meaning—these are the secrets to remaining untool-like whilst still claiming our inherent right to wear a necklace. For each man is a tool, or not a tool, in his own way. What might seem dainty on one fellow will be hefty on another. What might ring false around the neck of one man might be the truest thing for another. Far be it from this humble non-believer to decry the use of religious imagery in necklace, but it is surely wise advice not to wear one if if you aren’t truly among the faithful.
These seven necklaces fall firmly within the sweet spot of beauty, manliness, heft and craft. You don’t have to believe in anything but the power of taste to enjoy them. And you have our permission to wear any of them. Just not all at once.
Miansai Rose Gold Anchor Necklace
Sufficiently graphic, this anchor necklace transcends the maritime professions.
John Hardy Lion Head Pendant Necklace
The angular features of this silver Bali-made necklace take it out of the Rasta world into a more elegant design ecosystem.
Philip Crangi Lined Ring on Continuous Chain
Only cheating assholes or the fat-fingered wear wedding rings on their necklace. But Crangi’s stainess steel and 24K gold ring gets the point across.
Dean Harris Black Tourmaline Pendant on Chain
This is the acceptable male version of a crystal, a necklace that should only be worn by drug dealers at Phish concerts.
Venessa Arizaga Death in the Tropics Necklace
Though generally taboo, this skull is acceptable for its nod to the Mexican Day of the Dead. It’s part of the first men’s collection from Puerto Rican designer Venessa Arizaga.
Giles & Brother Embedded Dagger Necklace
A nice compromise between a simple chain and a dagger pendant. See, the dagger is IN the chain!
Saint Laurent Dice Necklace
It’s not a skull or a razor blade, but this sterling-silver die is a nod to a illicit hobby while the serpent chain elevates the necklace from your garden bro variety.