These days, it’s become more acceptable for modern men to wear jewellery around their neck. We’ve finally moved on from the outdated associations (notably Mr T and wearable holiday souvenirs) and come to the realisation that a simple chain or pendant makes for a stylish and highly personal addition to any outfit.
Despite what sceptics might tell you, the chain necklace – when chosen and worn correctly – has long been a timeless and masculine adornment. It’s an item that allows the wearer to showcase a little individuality, as well as an appreciation of the finer details, and can even have sentimental meaning.
Here’s Ape’s handy informer highlighting the considerations and brands you need to know when it comes to picking a signature chain.
Gold is undoubtedly the luxury choice here, but with great power comes great responsibility: you need to choose wisely to avoid straying into “tacky” territory. Therefore, leave the oversized, garish chains to rappers and opt for a thinner, more understated design. It’s also wise to opt for the best-quality gold you can (think 14-karat or above) to ensure a richness and depth of colour. That said, for your first foray into necklaces, it’s perfectly acceptable to opt for a sterling silver chain that is gold plated (again, look for 14-karat or above) in order to keep cost down. When wearing, look to set gold chains against darker shades or black to create a sophisticated contrast.
Silver is an effortless, comfortable and classic option when it comes to men’s necklaces and should be considered your safe space. Whilst gold is a brighter metal that demands attention, silver is subtle and works well with a traditional menswear palette of grey, navy blue and olive green. If you value longevity, opt for solid sterling silver rather than “silver-tone” designs, which are typically cheaper to produce and of lower quality.
Size & Length
The thickness of the chain will determine just how much of a statement your new accessory will make. If you’re going for a simple design without a pendant, a thickness of around 2 – 6mm and a length between 18 and 22 inches (finishing just below the collar bone) works well for most men. Pendants, on the other hand, often look best with a slightly longer chain, somewhere between 25 to 28 inches, finishing in the middle of your chest.
To add a pendant or not to add a pendant? That is the question. Those wanting something classic and minimal will steer clear, but it does beg the question: why not? A pendant is the chance to add something personal and intriguing, allowing for a little self-expression. There’s a wide variety of icons and symbols out there, so it’s worth shopping around for something relevant to your taste and personality.
The Go To Brands For Men’s Chain Necklaces
One of world’s foremost silver jewellery brands, Thomas Sabo is a name associated with high-quality pieces with added rock and roll flair. Their iconic skull necklace epitomises this. Made with blackened 925 sterling silver and comprising a punk style lobster clasp, it’s an ideal piece for adding a little edge to your day-to-day looks.
Miami-based brand Miansai is best known for its beaded bracelets, which have become a firm favourite of the menswear cognoscenti. Yet the label’s necklaces are just as lust-worthy, offering high-quality materials and meticulous craftsmanship. Many of the pendants on offer are inspired by the sea, with lobster claws, anchors and marine links particularly prominent, yet their simple 14-karat gold chain is our pick due to its timeless simplicity.
An independent British brand founded in the north east of England, Daniella Draper rose to prominence handcrafting jewellery for the likes of Kate Moss, James Bay and Ed Sheeran. The brand’s Silver Midi Feather Necklace is a delicate pendant necklace channelling peace, wisdom and freedom.
Founded in 1980 by husband and wife team David and Sybil Yurman, their eponymous New York-based brand (featured image, top) sets out to create “wearable pieces of art”. Each piece is designed and sketched by David, with the company then sourcing the finest precious metals and rare gemstones and using some of the world’s best craftspeople to create the end product. A highlight from the current collection is the 6mm link chain in black titanium, which offers a subtle yet distinctive difference against its sterling silver counterparts.
Tateossian is a breath of fresh air in the jewellery world, partly because of its emphasis on male orientated items. They’re also innovative, offering pieces that mix classic materials like gold and diamonds with the unconventional, such as meteorite and copper nuggets. Their oxidised sterling silver fossil necklace is inspired by nature and palaeontology and would make an excellent talking point.
Innovative Japanese jewellery brand Ambush are all about creative experimentation and their pieces, not to mention their fashion world devotees, reflect this. With a range of unisex designs that channel a distinct Tokyo aesthetic, it’s little wonder that AMBUSH’s necklaces sell out so quickly. Get one whilst you can.
With pieces meticulously designed in their London Bridge studio, Alex Orso is a modern British brand that concentrates on the understated and minimal. The label’s use of brass is also inspired. Our pick is their simple, cleanly finished gold oval pendant: cast in solid sterling silver and plated in 22kt gold, its high polish is sure to get you noticed.
Another jewellery brand created solely for the gent, don’t be misled by the name (which suggests Nordic heavy metal) – Northskull’s wears are sleek, simple and at an extremely attractive price point. Dog tags and skulls feature heavily in collections, but there’s also interesting shapes and symbolism. Our pick is their Layers Necklace, available in a nice aged silver that gives this piece a lived in feel from the start.