Have you been wondering about a few things to do with men’s necklaces? Here are a few FAQs to answer some of your questions.
Men have worn necklaces throughout history for all kinds of reasons. For protection, for religious or cultural reasons, and for style. Traditional artisans preserve these early meanings by hand-crafting men’s necklaces in the style of their ancestors. In Peru, men wore human and divine symbols, integrating animals (like snakes and felines) into their necklace designs, flaps, diadems, and bracelets. In Bali, necklaces were worn for special occasions, such as traditional ceremonies or to honor tribal chiefs or important healers. Across Central America, men’s necklaces revealed the rank, social position, and personal beliefs of the wearer. Leaders often wore large necklaces across their necks and chests, and fur, metal, feathers, shells, bone, and other natural stones were used to decorate their jewelry. In India, royal families wore precious and semi-precious gemstones to show off their wealth and status. While these original meanings may have faded with time, traditional artisans keep this history alive by creating new, unique pieces using techniques of old.
Gorgeous handcrafted men’s jewelry captures our undying passion for symbols and meaning through a variety of designs, emblems, and carvings. In ancient Peru, men wore necklaces adorned with pendants of human, animal, and divine characters. A common symbol that has withstood the test of time is the Andean Chakana, or the staggered cross, that attests to the relationship between humankind and the cosmos. In Bali, men’s jewelry integrated the cross, the sign of freedom, and Ongkara symbol for oneness and spirituality. In Central America, carved glyphs were commonly used. Animal figures and bird feathers (like the quetzal and macaw) had special significance, as did natural stones. In India, Om and Ganesha symbols are used for protection, prosperity, and purity. In West Africa, Gye nyame, symbolizing God’s deep power and infinite knowledge, is still used on necklaces.
Like many things, when it comes to great craftsmanship, the evidence is in the details. We asked artisans what they look for in a good necklace, and here’s what they told us. Keep your eye out for the smooth functioning of the lock. It should clasp easily and cleanly. Examine the weldings of the chain joints, and pay attention to the surface of the jewelry. Is it finished in high polish? Are handcrafted details evident? Are engravings handmade? Artisans also look for uniqueness in design, integrity of workmanship, and high-quality materials. Necklaces should be free from dents, and beads should stay fastened in place. No chips in the gemstones, no cuts in the bezel, and no obvious glue marks of any kind. While these standards may seem high, we believe that artisan jewelry should aim for the stars.
The materials that comprise handmade artisan necklaces are as varied as the makers themselves. Craftspeople all over the world use metals, like sterling silver, gold, copper and brass, to perfect their designs. Cotton or nylon cord and leather are also common materials used in traditional men’s jewelry. Wooden beads, cow bones, coconut shells, bamboo, and gemstones all adorn men’s necklaces from across the globe.
Many traditional artisans employ the handcrafted techniques of their ancestors, which favored a slow, methodical approach in a small workshop, as opposed to mass production. Today, they preserve these methodologies while intentionally distinguishing their approaches from those of large factories. Respect for the environment, and for animal and human life drive the artwork itself. Natural materials are often a sign that a product is eco-friendly. Additionally, many artisans look for ways to reuse or recycle in their artwork. Some choose to repurpose old wood or fabric. Some recycle glass beads or up-cycle plastic and discarded paper. Others follow practices that conserve resources, like water and energy, and are mindful of the pollutants they release into the environment. Shopping from organizations that promote eco-friendly products is the best way to ensure that you are receiving a unique item that does not damage the world through its making.