Because these tiny pieces of metal and stone can have a big effect on the opinions of people we’re trying to work with or get to know, you want to make sure you’re sending the right visual message.
When in doubt, keep it simple. Start with a classic leather-strapped silver watch; if you regularly wear a watch and can afford it, consider a sportier diving watch with a stainless steel band as well.
Your next step should be branching out to tie accessories and cufflinks.
Once you’re comfortable wearing these generally accepted pieces, then you can start to introduce other jewelry pieces like necklaces if you choose. Most men’s jewelry is metallic. Gold and silver tones are the most common. Your outfits should only feature one metal tone at a time.
Gold is a warmer color and reads, predictably, like a yellow accent in terms of the color wheel. It goes well with browns and other earth tones, as well as with deep hues like royal blue or hunter green. Silver and silver-tone metals like polished stainless steel or chrome are neutral. They read as grays, functionally outside the color wheel, falling instead on the black-to-white gradient.
Copper and bronze are orange-hued metals and should be treated as such. They’re bolder than gold or silver and need to be worn with restraint. You’ll see copper-tone jewelry in more casual outfits, and an heirloom copper ring or shirt buttons/rivets can add to a plain trouser and shirt.
Precious stones need to be kept to a minimum. They’re like purses–no matter how egalitarian you want to get about it, they’re still feminine to most.
Leather is touchy for anyone who isn’t in high school or a rebel. If you’re going to wear it, make sure it’s in natural earth-tones, not dyed black, and never with ostentatious metal studs.
To further complicate the matter, people can interpret the meaning of the same piece of jewelry very differently. To some, ornamental rings symbolize success and wealth; to others they signal organized crime affiliation.
That means a man has to be careful when wearing jewelry pieces outside the norm. It’s easy to appear flashy when you start including nondescript jewelry in your daily getup.
In the business world, company dress codes can severely restrict male jewelry. Often phrased in a politically correct tone such as, “Men should only wear tasteful pieces of jewelry,” you’ll find in practice that this means not rocking the boat and conforming to the status quo. So if you’re hired at AT&T corporate, be careful about trying to wear as many necklaces as Mr. T.