New York, NY—What do Prince Harry, music festivals, Jay-Z, Lance Armstrong and Instagram have in common?
All play a role in the growing popularity of men’s jewelry, which has seen a 31% increase in online searches in the last year alone, according to the latest research from Karus Chains. Research released last year by NPD Group shows sales of men’s accessories, including jewelry, grew by 28.7% in the USA from 2012-2014. An additional piece of research undertaken by Karus Chains using Google's Keyword Planner Tool shows that online searches for men's jewelry increased by 31% between April 2014 and March 2016.
How has men’s jewelry gone from the cringe-worthy stereotypes of the 1970s (chunky gold pinky rings and a thick chain buried in a forest of chest hair) to something cool and sought after?
Britain's Prince Harry sporting an armload of bangles. Image: Elle
Hip-hop music is credited with being the primary driver of this change. Since its emergence in the 1980s, hip-hop has transitioned from a niche musical genre to mainstream, and its influence on fashion and, consequently, men’s jewelry, has grown significantly. Hip hop artist Drake was the most streamed on Spotify in 2015 with a staggering 1.8 billion streams, while Empire was the most tweeted TV series in 2015 with 2.4 million tweets for final episode.
Here is Karus's infographic about the men's jewelry market:
Jewelry has always played a central role in hip-hop's image. Large gold chains are still important, but they have evolved from the basic chunky variety to much sleeker styles. Meanwhile, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and other artists have popularized other forms of jewelry, and fans outside the hip-hop world such as Prince Harry and Lance Armstrong have spread the influence far and wide.