Financial Times, UK: The greatest collectors of magnificent diamonds are men but the market for male fine jewelry has always been considered a mission impossible - Sir Elton John excepted.
Sure, a Saudi Prince might set a 100-carat canary yellow as a signet ring and serious collectors are willing to pay Pounds 50,000 plus for gem-set Cartier Art Deco cuff links, but the normal high-income guy on the street? It just never seemed plausible.
Enter Harry Winston and 2006 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Thom Browne, the man otherwise famous for his shrunken, boxy 1950s jackets and suit trousers that stop on the ankle. "Ah," the cognescenti shrugged. "They're going to take the tongue-in-cheek post-modern approach."
And yet Harry Winston Men by Thom Browne is an irony-free zone. "What you see mostly for men's jewelry in diamonds is big, big, big and flashy," says Browne. "My brief was to design a collection that, if I walked into Harry Winston, I'd want to wear it. I did own an antique pair of mother-of-pearl ovals set with a single diamond that I loved very much because they were simple. But I wanted Harry Winston Men to be cool and youthful rather than nostalgic."
Hence the largest white diamond (2.04-carats) in the collection is set alone in the centre of a Class Ring and the majority are trapezoid-cut chips set in subtle regimental stripes across a square white gold cuff link, tie bar or ring.
Perhaps the most successful piece is a dumbbell design cufflink with four black pearls suspended on a bar of pave diamonds (left). "What I like about that piece is the snob appeal of using diamonds where you won't even see them," Browne says. "What I like about Tahitian pearls is that they are so unobtrusive to the untrained eye as to be insignificant."
"Diamonds worn by men have previously had the connotations of rich footballers or the Mafia; neither of who are what you'd call role models for the men I work with," says London-based personal branding consultant Louise Mowbray.
"For men in investment banking or hedge funds, anything too flashy is just not acceptable for the mainstream. At the same time, I think the luxury goods climate is right for diamond jewelry for men. I think high net worth men are ready."