Man jewellery. If the very thought of it makes you cringe, you are not alone. Despite being the subject of derision for years, global sales of fine jewellery for men have been on the rise. Forget Liberace, Mr T, sleazy pickup artists circa 1995, pirates and/or Johnny Depp. Instead think of Harry Styles at the camp-themed 2019 Met Gala . Outfitted by Gucci designer Alessandro Michele, the former One Direction heartthrob’s gender-bending, modern renaissance look was accessorised with a pearl-drop earring and multiple finger rings. Model Henry Kitcher and men’s fashion editors such as Ben Schofield had been rocking the pearl-drop earring for some time already, so Styles might not have been the first to wear an earring, but he was the most publicised. In an era of gender fluidity, men are exploring jewellery like never before. It started with bracelets, an easy entry point for those who wore sailing rope around their wrists as teens. Now, every major brand sells them, from chunky chains to commercialised prayer beads. Jewellers such as Tom Wood, Vita Fede, Natural Instinct and Shaun Leane are opening our eyes to new possibilities. Rings were a major trend last year and continue to be the top-selling category. But necklaces with pendants are forecast to be the next big thing, as seen at Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Dior Men. Most guys, however, still adhere to the rigid rules of traditional dressing, not daring to go beyond a watch and a wedding ring. To many, cufflinks can be dandyish while pinky rings are reserved for the nobility or the affected. Millennials and Generation Z, though, are embracing jewellery in a way we haven’t seen in decades, if not centuries. Pearls were symbols of wealth prized by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Portraits dating back to the 16th century depict famous men wearing one pearl earring, such as the 1588 painting of Sir Walter Raleigh by an unknown artist. Henry VIII was portrayed with bedazzling jewellery by Hans Holbein (1536-37) and the 1610 Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare, by John Taylor, shows the playwright with a hoop earring. Camp pioneer Elton John has been wearing an earring of one sort or another for decades. Men have, in fact, worn jewellery since prehistoric times to signify their position in society, wealth and religious or spiritual beliefs. The Mughal maharajas were bedecked in jewels and 18th century dandies didn’t need an excuse to embellish, favouring elaborate watch chains and tie pins, for example. Rappers and hip hop artists have famously draped themselves in gold and diamonds, but the current trend is different. As codes of masculinity change, jewellery is becoming a form of self-expression across gender boundaries. Actor Chadwick Boseman, macho Black Panther himself, wore floral Tiffany & Co brooches, sorry “lapel pins”, on his suit at the 2019 SAG Awards without irony. Men’s collections at Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Fendi and Celine all have them, too. Does this mean we will start to see men walking down the street in their own pearl earrings and brooches? Probably not yet, sadly. But jewellery can be a fun expression of style in a sea of blue, grey and black, so I say, go for it.