BAND OF BROTHERS; as High Achievers Wear Their Success on Their Wrists, Nick Foulkes Probes the Semiotics of Man-Bracelets

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Foulkes

LOOK at almost any prominent male wrist these days and there is a good chance that it will be wreathed and festooned with a pleasingly eclectic set of bangles, bracelets, ribbons and other decorations. The obvious examples are the likes of Johnny Depp, Russell Brand and Colin Farrell; men who flaunt a piratical, Byronic aesthetic, an integral component of which is a jingly-jangly wrist.

However, what is interesting about this incarnation of male jewellery is that it is not restricted to those whose professional persona requires some edginess. I remember a time when men who moved money about for a living were almost laughably conservative: striped suits, striped shirts, striped ties and maybe, if they were really daring, a pair of primarycolour braces. Not any more -- Arki Busson, the super-smooth philanthropist and hedge fund manager, is a committed bracelet wearer. At his annual fundraiser for children's charity ARK earlier this month, his jewellery was a hot topic of conversation. Indeed, if you are looking for a way to identify socially significant male Londoners, you could do worse than pull up their right shirt cuff (the left one will usually hide an important wristwatch) and count the number of bracelets: racing driver Lewis Hamilton, gallerist Tim Jefferies, Cartier chief Arnaud Bamberger and photographer Dave Benett are just a few of the committed bracelet wearers that I have bumped into recently.

I suppose at this point I ought to own up to possessing a well-furnished forearm myself. Among the stuff that will be found at the junction of my arm and hand are an elephant-hair bracelet that I picked up in a south London junk shop, a blue woollen bangle made for me by my younger son, a set of silver skulls bought for me by my family and sundry other mementoes.

It is this sentimental connection with each piece that often signals the difference between male and female bracelets. Arm candy may not be the most obvious fault line dividing Mars from Venus, but it is an important one. Women tend to buy jewellery to go with certain outfits, whereas men wear theirs all the time irrespective of whether they are on the beach or in white tie. …

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