Lose the Gold Chain, Tony

The Spectator, August 27, 2016 | Go to article overview

Lose the Gold Chain, Tony


Why jewellery on men is such a terrible look

Ring a ding-ding -- here comes the he-bling. Tony Blair started it. The war, that is. On good taste. This summer he was photographed on holiday relaxing in shark-print trunks and gangsta sunglasses under a blue Mediterranean sky. The former prime minister was on a yacht off the coast of Sicily but -- uh oh! -- what in the name of sunken treasure was that monstrosity moored between his moobs?

Closer inspection revealed it to be a giant gold cross, gleaming like a gilded anchor submerged in greying seaweed. Look at the size of that thing! Perhaps it comes in useful for skewering sardines off the grill at a beach barbecue? Whatever its function, it succeeded in making him look a bit shifty, like a half-baked mafioso, a Tony Mezzo-Soprano. Perhaps, after the bruising he received from the Chilcot report last month, TB was trying to semaphore to the outside world his dearly held vision of himself as a paragon of morality; I may have been damned over the Iraq war, but check out my Jesus-loves-me neckwear.

Men have to be so very, very careful when it comes to jewellery. Be it decorative, fanciful, functional or religious, male jewellery sends out a powerful message about who you are, what commitments you have made and your standing in society. That is why men must chose with stealth from the wealth of necklaces and ornamental bling available to tempt the unwary from the path of discernment. One misstep and you are but a second away from looking like a second-hand car dealer. One chain too many and you are tortoise-necked Sir Philip Green; you are Del Boy rootling through the cut-price kettles in the back of a van.

No wonder, then, that the mark of a true gentleman is his lack of ostentation. Particularly, I might add, in his jewellery drawer. Mr Right restricts his jewellery needs to three things: a pair of good cuff links, a decent watch and, these days, a wedding ring, should he be married. Mr Wrong opts for curb chains, a St Christopher the size of a dustbin lid, assorted beads, religious symbols and/or dog tags. All, of course, displayed under a shirt with too many undone buttons. Extenuating circumstances allow for the wearing of a family signet ring (if you absolutely must), something of deep sentimental value (from your mother, never from a former lover) or a clutch of gold medals should you happen to be an Olympian. …

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