Some revolutions shatter borders with a crash and a crash; others tiptoe in and, with a whisper, change the rules forever. Until very few years ago, a guy with an Art Deco diamond brooch winking at his black tie ensemble would raise at least one eyebrow – and the guy you went to high school with who has now paired his Hanes T-shirt with a single strand of pearls would elicit — well, if not a laugh, at least a chuckle. But not anymore.
For decades, women have used masculine jewelry – the signet ring, those massive two-ton wristwatches. Nobody blinks when we string an antique pocket watch around our neck or cut a chunky ID bracelet to fit our wrist. The clean lines of men’s jewelry, along with the charm and edge of androgyny, have long appealed to women, but lately men have started to walk down the aisle as well. That’s why Tiffany & Co., for the first time in its nearly 200-year history, is launching Tiffany Lock, a bracelet the company describes as “all genders” with a “No rules” philosophy. All welcome.”
“It’s all about unity, belonging, the universal ties that bind us forever, and the open-mindedness of today’s generation,” says Alexandre Arnault, Executive Vice President of Products and Communications. at Tiffany’s. Arnault, who is only 30 himself, brought Beyoncé and Jay-Z into the Tiffany fold, a spectacular example of the brand’s commitment to a fresh perspective.
What today’s generation wants, according to Arnault, is an elegant, sleek, elongated bangle, available in yellow, white or pink gold, sometimes enhanced with diamonds. And of course, like all bracelets, the Tiffany Lock simply begs for company – why would any arm, regardless of gender, be content to wear a single example in rose gold when it could be associated , for example, to a brother in yellow gold set with diamonds?
The padlock motif of the Tiffany Lock bracelet has a long history with the house. First employed as a working latch in the late 19th century – to protect your safe’s secrets, perhaps – it reappeared in the 1950s, and since then its shape and form have shaped brooches, necklaces, money clips and those iconic keychains. The mechanism that opens the lock, meanwhile, is a bit of a technical feat: the clasp features an innovative pivot that echoes the functionality of a padlock.
When asked if he thinks all jewelry in the future will be gender neutral, Arnault disagrees. Some collections, like Tiffany’s HardWear, were originally aimed at women, “but you see a lot of men wearing it now,” he says – and he’s sure there are gentlemen showing off the bone cuff by Elsa Peretti; after all, he’s seen them sporting that designer’s Diamonds by the Yard chains before.
That said, Arnault thinks some categories may prove more difficult. Traditional diamonds and engagement rings remain mostly the prerogative of women. As Arnault, who married Géraldine Guyot, co-founder of accessories brand Destrée, explains last year, “I don’t expect our high jewelry customers to be men anytime soon, is still very feminine, and at the moment 100% of those customers are women,” he tells me. (Wait, Monsieur Arnault, I think but don’t say – any day now, a hunky movie star or a muscular athlete will show up sporting the high jewelry necklace he bought himself, and you will stand up and applaud.)
Either way, when it comes to gender-specific jewelry, even the best-laid plans can be delightfully disrupted. “Last summer we launched a line of men’s engagement rings, diamond rings that were meant to be more masculine, more suited to a man’s finger,” Arnault recalls. But
no sooner had these rings appeared than a woman in her office at Tiffany’s grabbed one. And now, he confesses, “I see it on his hand every day.”