Thanks to the designers at Men's Fashion Week, men's stick pins are hot again. That popularity extends to men's vintage and antique cuff links, i.d. bracelets,watches and rings.
If you follow fashion trends, you'll notice that there's a renewed interest in vintage and antique jewelry - only this time, it's jewelry for men! Men's jewelry, which, up until now, has been the step-child of jewelry collecting, is suddenly a "hot" ticket item. Older men's jewelry, according to antique experts at Kovel's, got a boost when stick pins recently showed up on Louis Vuitton's runway during Men's Fashion Week. The growing popularity might also be related to the "Downton Abbey" influence,t hanks to the numerous scenes of valets helping their employers dress. Servants like Mr. Bates, not only brush off Lord Grantham's jacket, but also insert the links into his finely tailored, custom-made shirt cuffs. And we notice.
A Wide Variety of Collectible Jewelry
Your hunt for vintage and antique men's jewelry can include cuff links, stick pins (also called lapel pins), and watches (pocket and wrist). Note that vintage I.D. bracelets (WWII and later) also are making a comeback. Perhaps the new popularity is also due to the fact fashion has been so dreary lately - so much black and grey. Sparkling cuff links or lapel pins add just the right fashion touch to the common, ordinary, suit-of-the-day.
The photo above shows a random selection of my vintage and antique men's jewelry. In the middle, a stick pin with an Art Nouveau "A". The pin is likely made of brass, and not all that valuable. (Find something similar in silver or gold, and the price will escalate dramatically). Also shown, some vintage Crown cufflinks, a small Swiss pocket watch that works (but needs a cover), antique tie bars, mother of pearl studs, (surprising) faux pearl flower petal studs and two political tie tacks: One for "IKE" (President Eisenhower circa 1950s) and one for LBJ (circa 1970s, outside the photo). Also shown, upper right in photo, is a Masonic lapel pin, featuring the Masonic symbol and a dangling star. (There is quite a lot of antique and vintage Masonic jewelry around - including men's rings and pins; you have two types of buyers who will want these - Masonic collectors and men's vintage/antique jewelry collectors).
As in all jewelry, (for men, women, children), platinum, gold and silver items are the most valuable, and the prices climb even higher if there are gems, like diamonds, encrusted in the piece. It might be easier to find the precious metal antique pieces in your family treasure chest -up in the attic or Grandpa's stud box. Most thrift stores bag up men's jewelry and mark it for one price - usually higher than what the contents deserve. Best hunting grounds will be Estate and Yard sales, where you can look at the jewelry and determine its content (.925 for sterling, for example, or 14K for gold).
Men's jewelry, also sought-after, includes I.D. bracelets (sterling will bring the high prices) and old watches. There is a wide range of values to collectible men's watches, ranging from the thousands at high-end for rare Omega and Rolex watches to the category below $100, which includes early calculator watches and Swatch watches (although some people ask in the $300-$400 range, the market is too soft to support that price). Soft market aside, I predict both early caculator watches and early men's Swatch watches (in good condition) will increase in value. They are still relatively easy to find.
I have not mentioned rings, because those may be harder to locate. Most likely to appear at a flea market or yard sale will be class rings, fraternal organization rings (like Masons), and here and there, some rare finds - say, vintage men's turquoise sterling rings from Mexico or 1940s souvenir-seller, Fred Harvey.
I generally hunt for vintage women's costume jewelry (from the 1920-80s), but the rules for collecting men's jewelry fall under the same categories. Look for signed pieces of high quality (gold or silver), unusual in design, evocative of their era (streamlined Art Deco, for example, or stainless steel for Elvis-Presley inspired 1950s I.D. bracelets).
As in all forms of collecting, pass up the damaged, dented or heavily tarnished pieces. One cuff-link will not do you much good, even if it's in the shape of the Eiffel Tower! Look for pairs; especially nice are vintage men's sets (from Swank, perhaps) including cuff links, studs, tie bar. As always, if you find these in their original box, the price goes up!
You can get a head start on collecting men's jewelry pieces that interest you by checking out what's selling on eBay. After all, not every one selling men's stick pins is aware of just how haute they are today!