American Eagle Outfitters
I’ve long considered men’s jewelry tacky. But my friend Justin needed help: After finally ditching his worn-out leather necklace, he wanted something a little classier. I had recently seen some bracelets in the window at American Eagle Outfitters. Feeling out of place amid the sea of teenage boys and girls, I found a leather bracelet with a rough-hewn metal cross. The adjustable strap and weathered metal had a nice antique look that would fit Justin’s laid-back style—and you would never know that it cost under $10! 485 Fifth Ave., nr. 42nd St.; 212-542-4900.
But maybe Justin needed to stretch a little more, so I hit the opposite end of the jewelry spectrum next: David Yurman, which carries diamond and precious-metal pieces. I was shown the newest collection by the boutique’s extremely helpful staff, including silver dog tags which hang on a thick, ropelike chain. The tags—encrusted with black-diamond DY logos—were well crafted and have a nice, heavy feel but were just too over-the-top for Justin, or anyone else not starring in a rap video this week. 729 Madison Ave., nr. 63rd St.; 212-752-4255.
Did you know that there’s a pristine, all-white jewelry store in this unmarked downstairs basement on Elizabeth Street? World’s Fair just opened a few weeks ago and carries sports-themed earrings and pendants. The basketball fan in me immediately took to the Gabriel Urist necklaces—displayed in snow-globe-shaped cases—which feature various NBA logos. My favorite piece was a miniature replica of the NBA Finals Trophy in plated gold. The super-shiny finish and the 3D proportions of the trophy made it the wrong choice for Justin’s understated aesthetic, but it was perfect for a B-ball fanatic—or one of the Gotti boys. 204 Elizabeth St., nr, Spring St.; 212-219-9580.
Me & Ro
Across the street from World’s Fair, Me & Ro specializes in small, hip pieces for girls (my best friend once gave me a little skull pendant necklace from the store that remains my favorite piece of jewelry to this day). But they have men’s items too. I asked the salesman to model a large two-skull bracelet on a tan leather band. Though the double leather straps were rugged and manly, the pink-eyed skulls (real rubies) looked tacky and kind of girlie. And the price was too high for something that looked like you bought it on St. Marks Place. 241 Elizabeth St., nr. Prince St.; 917-237-9215.
At Paul Smith, the jewelry pickings were slim, but I did notice another ruby-eyed creation: an enormous lion’s-head ring. The massive piece—about the diameter of a silver dollar and with some serious weight—had a very detailed mane and terrifying open-mouthed stare. Though I can imagine it’d be fun to rock a lion’s head as a cocktail ring, it hardly represents the laid-back masculinity I was requested to find—quite the opposite in fact. This ring is for the man whose closet is brimming with Versace and velvet. 142 Greene St., nr. W. Houston St.; 212-613-3060.
Taking a break, I popped into Nave on Mercer to check out a Richard Chai dress, where I spotted a glass case full of rings and necklaces by Barking Irons. The jewelry is crafted from antique silver spoons and forged with New York icons like the Brooklyn Bridge. My favorite was the Liberty necklace—two spoons on a beautiful, slightly knotted, thin chain. There was an image of the Statue of Liberty on the larger spoon and old subway tracks on the smaller. It’s the perfect anti-jewelry jewelry. 159 Mercer St., nr. Houston St.; 212-274-1255.
Black Sheep and Prodigal Son
After my earlier discoveries at American Eagle Outfitters and Nave, Justin decided to check out some stores with me. So during a long afternoon in the meatpacking district, we stopped at An Earnest Cut & Sew. In the glass display case in the back, we found pins by Black Sheep and Prodigal Son. One simple piece featured a lone whale made from blackened wood atop a straight pin. Justin liked how the pin looked on the lapel of his jacket, but except for the exquisitely worn Bible case that it came in, neither of us could figure out why the pin was so expensive. So we left, both a little annoyed by the prices. 821 Washington St., nr. Gansevoort St.; 212-242-3414.
Finally, I suggested we swing by Yoyamart, a half-kid, half-grown-up store that often stocks Dinh Van jewelry. Next to the wide assortment of adorable children’s sneakers and tees, we looked through the men’s bracelets. Justin tried on a silver handcuff bracelet on a black cord, which, though masculine-looking in the display case, looked delicate and feminine on. The handcuffs were also too shiny for his liking, and the bracelet as a whole was just too dainty for him to pull off. Also … they were handcuffs. 15 Gansevoort St., nr. 13th St.; 212-242-5511.