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Karishma Gulyani

Karishma is an engineer turned fashion stylist and writer who loves talking about trends as much as eating desserts. Gucci, Ranveer Singh, salted caramel ice-cream and lipsticks make up four chambers of her heart. Like Karishma's story? Drop her a line in the comments section below.

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Four Indian Men Discuss Their Journey With Jewellery

Jewellery is personal, but also universal.

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Image Courtesy: The Daily Beast

While we have explored the ever-evolving ideals of beauty with the help of some of our favourite ‘Men In Beauty’, it’s time to unravel the sparkling relationship between men and jewellery. Like beauty, jewellery too has been seen as a women-only domain for the longest time. And just as was in the case of beauty, the history presents a very different and dazzling argument here as well, after all, there have been many times in history where men have dripped themselves in gold, pearls, and other jewels as much as, or maybe even more than, women – be it ancient Egyptian pharaohs, upper-class men from Elizabethan era, Indian Maharajas, or Mughal emperors. But by the 20th century, the social and cultural norms had managed to solidify a very conservative look for men with only the subtlest jewels i.e., watches and basic chains. Though the introduction of counter cultures of hip hop, grunge, punk, and rock & roll post the 60s helped loosened the knots of gender and cultural conventions with many men supporting jewels that were integral to their respective identities. This paved the way for establishing a steady association between men and jewellery wherein jewellery became much more than an adornment or a status symbol – it was now a representative of your true self.

Fast forward to today’s digital world, we have more and more men who are uninhibited in freewheeling and experimenting with jewellery to express their choices, tastes, and well, personal style. Think Harry Styles and pearls, A$AP Rocky and diamonds (and emeralds too!), and Ranveer Singh and solitaires. Well, the continuing gender blur and much more open global culture are surely causing a jewellery resurgence amongst men, with Instagram as its prime witness. And to unravel the notions of this modern jewellery renaissance, we decided to reach out to four style-forward men in the Indian fashion scene to understand their approach to jewellery and its connection to their personality.

Kaustav Dey, Vice President (Marketing) – Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein & Arrow (India)

Kaustav Dey men's jewellery

How has your relationship with jewellery evolved over the years compared to your earliest jewellery memory? 
My earliest memory of falling in love with jewellery was when as a little boy, I used to sit on the floor next to my mother’s dressing table – looking at her as she sat facing the mirror, putting on her favourite choker; the same one she’d worn the night she got married and had also belonged to her mother. My mother taught me my most important lesson in fashion which is that everything must have stories, only then will anything have meaning – how else will you fall in love with something? Today, I follow the same philosophy as I only wear what I love and mix my mother’s heirlooms with pieces that I collect when I travel. They remind me of where I come from and where I’ve been.

Do you think that designers and brands have started to cater their designs and/or campaigns to men? 
Absolutely – and the resurgence of men loving and wearing jewellery is spectacular to watch! In India, men’s jewellery has always been a part of our heritage and culture. And globally, the most storied luxury houses across the world – such as Gucci’s bejeweled robes (worn by actor Jared Leto at the 2019 MET Gala in New York) and Louis Vuitton’s glittering leather harness (seen on actor Timothée Chalamet at the 2019 Golden Globes) – are turning fine jewelry into wearable fashion itself. These jewels encrusted onto our very clothes are turning the spotlight on the modern, stylish gentlemen and their love of jewellery.

And how have people around you or on social media reacted when they see you wearing jewellery? 
With so much love! I’m touched and humbled to receive so much love from people who reach out to tell me (on social media and in-person) that it empowers them to find their voice and courage to push back against the boundaries of what we are ‘allowed’ in today’s world. Like I say in my TED Talk on Fashion, what we wear can also express who we are – and when we use that power to dissent visually, we stand up for ourselves and each one of our beautiful, unique identities.

Lastly, which are the jewellery pieces that have been a must in your jewellery box?
First, an elegant, everyday piece that is always with you – a part of who you are. So, choose a versatile piece that can be styled with everything, like my everyday piece is a diamond ring in the traditional South Indian ‘Neli’ style.
And second, a knock-out statement piece for when you want to celebrate – a manifestation of pure, unbridled joy. I wear a multi-strand choker of natural diamonds on special nights, with everything from an open-collared white shirt to a Benarasi silk Bandhgala.

Kunaal Kyhaan Seolekar, Founder & Creative Director – KOYTOY, KOY & studioHAUS

Kunaal Kyhaan Seolekar men's jewellery
Photo by Shahrukh Faquih

How has your relationship with jewellery evolved over the years compared to your earliest jewellery memory? 
Jewellery has always been in and around my life.  My earliest memory of jewellery is seeing my mother and grandmothers’ diamonds and pearls. Their collection of natural pearls and stones inspired me deeply. And now, I collect jewellery from different parts of the country and around the world during my travels. They link my memory of a place to their rare findings. I have pieces from Rajasthan to Milan, each one unique and precious to me. 

Do you think that designers and brands have started to cater their designs and/or campaigns to men? 
Well, our culture has always depicted men clad in elaborate jewellery. And it is embedded in us to adore fine jewellery, which is coming back in trend. Dapper men sporting rings, chains, and pearls is the new normal. So, yes, brands & designers are mirroring the preferences of modern men.

And how have people around you or on social media reacted when they see you wearing jewellery? 
The response has been great. Boys and girls DM me sharing pictures of their collections or admiring mine. Lately, I wear a lot of my designs from KOYTOY, and I get messages from boys who were afraid to wear jewellery, but now want to try it out! This makes me very happy, and I encourage them. 

Lastly, which are the jewellery pieces that have been a must in your jewellery box?
My affinity for energy crystals has flowed into the collection, and I wear those depending on the mood. And lately, I’ve been loving my Maharaja pearls from KOYTOY. I usually wear the big pearl choker and the Koi drops. To be honest, I find pearls super sexy!

Siddharth Yadav, Vice President (Operations) – MRS Hotels

siddharth yadav men's jewellery

How has your relationship with jewellery evolved over the years compared to your earliest jewellery memory? 
My earliest jewellery memory is of my grandmother selecting pieces for her daughters. Growing up, I had no interest in jewellery at all and considered it something that was bought for weddings and other occasions. Over the last few years, I have discovered myself enjoying and appreciating jewellery from an ornamental point of view to an exquisite art form.

Do you think that designers and brands have started to cater their designs and/or campaigns to men? 
Absolutely! A lot of men I know are taking to wearing jewellery in a big way and brands would remiss not tapping into this market.

And how have people around you or on social media reacted when they see you wearing Jewellery? 
I see that everyone is interested and very appreciative as it is something that cannot be missed when worn. Men and women alike want to know the source of the said piece.

Lastly, which are the jewellery pieces that have been a must in your jewellery box?
I don’t have a lot, but definitely the emerald earrings. I had my friend’s mother curate them for me, and the clarity is just exquisite. I am fond of bracelets. And I recently bought a silver bracelet with camels engraved on it as a representation of my land. Still, the most special to me is a David Yurman silver bracelet – which was a gift and my first foray into wearing Jewellery. And lastly, some little add-ons like an amethyst mala from the Norbulingka Institute in Himachal Pradesh.

Anurag Sharma, Managing Director – SOAK & Brand Consultant

Anurag Sharma men's jewellery
Photo by Two Much Productions

How has your relationship with jewellery evolved over the years compared to your earliest jewellery memory? 
I was never a jewellery person when I was in my teens; my interest in it developed slowly and gradually. It started with me finding a vintage silver ring in a circular maze design. And it captured my attention instantly and I ended up buying a few more things along with it. Initially, I used to wear only one or two petite rings, and that slowly changed to only oxidized silver rings in various designs. I am mainly more inclined towards big designer rings, but it has to be “silver”. 

Do you think that designers and brands have started to cater their designs and/or campaigns to men? 
Of course, and it’s much needed now. Today, Millennial metrosexual men are looking for products made for them and ready to spend a few extra bucks on those. And that’s one of the main reasons, designers and brands alike are creating campaigns/products especially for men. Therefore, we now have a range of options to choose from as compared to the early 2000s.

And how have people around you or on social media reacted when they see you wearing jewellery? 
When I started wearing jewellery, there were raised eyebrows in the family and questions like why am I wearing these, what’s the need, etc. With time, people around me and otherwise are more comfortable and have no negative reactions as such. Maybe once or twice people are interested to know the reason behind it because rings can also be associated with luck, religion, etc. But I don’t believe in that, and for me, it’s just who I am – I wear it because I like it. This reason seems to suffice most of the people I come across with, thankfully!

Lastly, which are the jewellery pieces that have been a must in your jewellery box?
Well, for me, a silver chain and some silver rings are all that I need.

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