Diamonds / Fashion / Industry

NDC’s Kristina Buckley Kayel On How Men Are Wearing Diamonds Today


Web stats don’t lie. At least that’s how Kristina Buckley Kayel (pictured), managing director of the Natural Diamond Council’s North America division, is interpreting the number of visitors to the Diamonds for Him page on the NDC site, part of its fall “For Moments Like No Other” campaign featuring actress Ana de Armas.

“The traffic, the click-through rate, it’s been extraordinary how the men’s category has been received,” says Kayel. “We’ve created a lookbook page of men’s jewelry and after the Ana de Armas page, it’s the most clicked of the campaign. Men’s jewelry is not just a talked-about trend, it’s backed up with data.”

Below, Kayel talks to JCK about specific product trends resonating with men this season, the social and cultural factors that are fueling the surge in interest in diamonds for guys, and why gender-fluid marketing is the best way to target Gen Z.

What are some important diamond jewelry trends you’re seeing for men this season?

There’s such a range, with the casualization of work attire, but also a return to dressing up again. It almost feels like for a male celebrity walking on the red carpet, a tuxedo is not enough. You have to finish the look with a bracelet or a brooch near your collar.

For casual everyday wear, bracelets are not limited to women. The chain necklaces—that trend is still exploding. These diamond-encrusted heavy metal chains, more refined in style, and pairing that with a statement pendant. This is where you’re seeing a lot of motifs—a look back or a reemergence of ’90s nostalgia. You see the dog tag pendant, the cross—there’s an interesting array of styling when it comes to men’s necklaces.

Marvin Douglas dog tag pendant
Dog tag pendant in 18k gold with diamonds, Marvin Douglas

Stud earrings are also becoming a staple in a men’s arsenal of diamond jewelry. And piercings have exploded for men, so we’re seeing more men pairing a stud with a dangling hoop earring. And of course, the signet ring—that’s been a classic. We’re seeing it modernized and worn with multiple rings.

When and how did the current renaissance in men’s jewelry begin? Was there some sort of pivotal moment that triggered the surge in interest or was it more gradual?

It’s a confluence of subcultures that have come together. If you look at all corners of culture now, there are male tastemakers coming out in a strong, confident way. And the platforms where they can express their style, there are more options than ever before.

If you look at music, at the likes of Harry Styles or at hip-hop and streetwear—look at Pharrell. Major fashion houses have all been influenced by streetwear. That look is all about your sneakers and your accessories, and the center point of your accessories is the jewelry you’re wearing. And look at sports: Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 driver, doesn’t go out without his diamonds. And all the basketball and football stars off field go around with their jewelry statements.

Jadelle Cuban necklace
Cuban chain necklace with diamonds, Jadelle Beverly Hills

Because of the pandemic, things have been a little more understated. But now, people are wanting to come back full force. Even at the Met Gala, where fashion, Hollywood, and music come together—it’s undeniable that that red carpet was dripping in diamonds. And young actors—like Timothée Chalamet—he’s always wearing his jewelry. Social media and TikTok stars have just exploded in the last couple years. We have a few Gen Z employees, so I’ve been brought up to speed on these stars that have insane followings. They’re wearing their diamond tennis bracelets. Even men’s runway shows—pretty much every designer has a look completed with jewelry. Look at Dior collaborating with Travis Scott. It’s everywhere.

What’s new about how men are wearing diamonds?

Over the last 20 or so years, the male expression of success has been limited to the wrist. Men today want more versatility and opportunities to express their individual style. And there is that talismanic and protective quality that also appeals to men. Men are feeling confident and enabled to adorn themselves with jewelry in unprecedented ways.

Marvin Douglas signet ring
Signet ring in 18k gold with diamonds, Marvin Douglas

This new expression of confidence we’re seeing is putting a stake in the ground and saying, there are no rules. And you have the younger generation; They don’t care about masculinity or femininity, they care about individuality. And they’re global luxury consumers, looking at what’s going on around the world. They don’t want to be categorized. That’s a driving force.

What’s happening in the wedding jewelry space? Are “mangagement” rings really a thing?

Going off the data to our website, there is definitely a consumer base for this. I think just because men wearing jewelry has become so mainstream, it allows for that much more of an unconventional approach when it comes to the bridal and commitment category. It goes back to people wanting to express their own individual style, their own story—and they want to do that with less conventional choices. Taking the classic wedding band but making it feel unique with the incorporation of diamonds and other precious stones. What we’ve seen is that young people care that what they invest in retains its value for the long haul. If they can express their unique style and see an engagement ring as an asset that retains its value, it makes sense that it’s becoming a more popular thing to own.

There’s so much talk about how fashion is becoming increasingly agnostic about gender. Do you think jewelry is headed there too?

Look at the recent shows or at what the major luxury maisons are doing—it’s already here. Each brand has its own positioning and heritage, but if you want to appeal to the next generation of luxury consumers, you benefit by being more fluid and less categorical about how you communicate the design of your offering.

KIL N.Y.C. Argus cuff
Argus cuff in silver with diamonds, $475; KIL N.Y.C. (photo by Little Wolf Collective)

You always look back at history. You had the French aristocrats, the first to wear jewelry in that way. It’s a renaissance. But one being met by the confluence of all these subcultural influences, which is why we’re seeing so many facets to it. I think it’s here, and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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