*** boys' jewelry: items

Boys' Jewelry: Items Trends

Figure 1.--This CDV portrait shows an unidenified Boston boy wearing a kilt suit, we think in the 1870s. He looks to be about 5 years old. Notice the ring on his middle finger.

Watches are perhaps the most common jeweley items worn by boys in the 20th century. And in the 19th century before the invention of wrist watches were worn with fobs. this changed for a time in the early-20th century until Apple introduced the I-phone. There are, however, many other items. Here age was a factor. Pendeants and lockets have also been worn, especially by younger boys. We see other boys wearing rings, more teenagers than boys, but for a time in theb mis-19th centuryb we see a lot of younger boys wearingb rings, perhaps rekated to the Califiorina Gold Rish (1848). Finger conventiins were not well established. This ring popularity seems to have passed by the 1880s. was The popularity of jewelry items have varied over time. Collar pins and cuff links which were once common, at least among teenagers when dressing up or today no longer seen. Tie clips were also common during the early- and mid-20th century. But new items such as ear rings have appeared. Bracelets have varried in popularity.


We notice boys wearing different kinds of award bages and pins. these are a little differebnt than other jewlelry items in that they have to be earned and not just purfchased. This seems especially common in America and Britain. We are not entirely sure for what these badges were awarded. Modern boys often win sports awards, but the badges we see are mostly from the late-19th and early-20th century. Boys at the time did not normally receive awards like these for sports. More likely thet were awards for perfect attendance at schools, memorizing Bible verses, or elocution awards. Perhaps readers will have a better idea about these awards. We notice numerous portraits with boys wearing awards. Unfortunately the esolution is usually not good enough to see for just what they were awards. Various groups gave these awards, including churches, fraternal societies, and schools.


Boys commonly wore ID bracelets with heavy chain links in the 1950s. POW braclets were worn beginning in the 1960s. In the 1980's boys wore friendship bracelets on the same and/or other wrist. At one time you could not fine one boy who did not have both wrists full of something. (Watches, bracelets, or both). Also sweat wristbands were really popular to always just wear. (Those are coming back lately for boys). One HBC contributor reports, "When I was about 12 years old in 1964, a number of boys wore ID bracelets inscribed with their first names.

Collar pins

A collar pin is an item of men's jewelry popular during the late-19th century and early-20th century that holds the tips of a dress shirt collar together. There was ahort-lived revival during the 1960s. Boys did not normally have collar pins at the time because boys collars were very destinctive at the time the collar pin was most in vogue. We do note teenagers wearing them. The collar pin was associated with the necktie and was designed to pass underneath the necktie knot. This was simmilat to the tabbed collar. The collar pin not only kept the collar in place by holding the collar tips together. This lifted the knot and was seen as providijg an aesthetically pleasing arc for the man's or boy's necktie at the collar. While collar pin is pribably the most common term, there were other terms used, including collar bar and collar clip. The standard collar pin was about 3-5 centimeters long. Well-to-do people had gold pins. There were three types of collar pins. There were barbell pins which had ends that screwed off. The pin then was inserted through special eyelets in the tips of the collar. There were also pins like a safety pin, that either passed through the collar eyelits or pierced the ends of the collar. There were also bars with clips that grasped the ends of the collars. The collar bar has declined in popuilarity because of the declinung use of ties, but also the popularity of the preppy favorites, the button-down collar, was an alternative method of holding the collar tips in place.

Cuff links

Dress shirts intil the 1970s usually came with French cuffs requiring cuff links. One HBC contributor remembers in the 1960s, "On more than one Christmas my brother and I received cufflinks and matching tie clasps."

Ear rings

One of the newest items of jewlery worn by boys is an earring. This has been normally a jewlry item worn by girls, but boys began wearing them in the 1990s. The general convention has been for boys to wear one rather than two like the girls wear. Boys earrings also tend to be smaller and simplier than the ones worn by girls.

Identity braclet


HBC has noted that many young children wearing dresses also wore lockets. This includes boys and girls. Interestingly, only boys not yet breeched wore lockets--at least visibly. Once a boy was breeched and began wearing knee pants or trousers, he no longer wore his locket. This as the case regardless of the outfit worn, Fauntleroy suits, sailort suits, or other outfits. Long hair is also associate with lockets. We also note boys wearing lockets with tunic suits, mostly fancy tunic suits. This is a bit of a complication. We are not entirely sure if this constitutes breeching as the boys wore bloomer knickers under their tunics. Note that tunics became very popular at the turn-of-the 20th century at the time that the convention of younger boys wearing dresses.


Necklaces have also been worn. These are particularly common with Catholic boys. Crosses and St. Christopher medals were the most common. One HBC conrtibutor believes that St. Chrispoher medals were commonly worn by both Protestanr and Catholic boys. HBC believes that they were more popular with Catholic boys, but has not data to support this assessment. The St. Christpher's medal was worn on a silver chain around the neck. Necklaces are worn a lot lately as well. Both silver/gold chains for formal occasions, and the leather chokers other times. We note lockets in many old portraits Necklaces were less common. One example is two unidentified American sisters, we think in the late 1850s. We note a younger American boy and girl wearing neckaces with a cross pendant, we think in the 1850s.


Rings are a major jewlry item. Rings are a gender neutral jewelry item, although gender may affect ring styles. Most children did not wear rings, in part because they had a tendency to lose them. We do not have a sufficent archive to assess ring trends. A problem here is that the child had to hold their hand in a certain way for the ring to show. Thus we can not see if they are wearing rings or not. The photographic record does suggest that rings were not very common for either boys or girls, but we are unable to make any valid assessment of trends. We are not yet sure of age, chronology, country, gender, and social class trends associated with rings. We notice a few boys wearing gold rings in the 19th century. It does not seem to have been very common. An example is Bert Dodge in the 1880s. Another is an unidentified American by about 1890. One HBC contributor reports that onyx rings were popular in the 1960s. Most American boys in their senior year of highschool began wearing class rings.

Tie clasps

Ties until the 1970s were almost always worn with tie clasps. The tie clasp kept the tie close to the shirt instead of flying off in all directions. Now on the rare occasions that boys wear ties, they rarely wear tie clasps.


One sign that a 19th century boy was growing up was when he received his first pocket watch and fob. Eatches were still expensive though so usually only boys from affluent families had them and they might only be worn for formal occasions, especially by younger boys. Watches have in the 20th century probably been the most common jewlry or accessory worn by boys. Boys in the 1960's began wearing wrist watches much more than before. One of the most popular bands was a Speidel "Twistoflex". A lot of boys wore those wide-band watches, that went into the 70's. Recently, watches are really back strong, I have seen some of the wide-band watches come back. But mainly they are still the black watches. (Digital and analog). Watches were rather expensive until the 1970s and only a minority of boys wore them to school or while playing after school. They were something a little special. They were often considered an excellent graduation present. A 1951 advertisement for Hamilton watches read, "At last he has graduated--to a Hamilton. Whay a proud moment. And how important in the years to come that you have given that someone you love the watch world famous for accuarcy." The ad then goes into great detail about the watch itself. I'm not sire when wrist watches first appeared or when boys started wearing them. I believe that wrist watches were initially more poular for boys than girls, but I can't substatiate that yet.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main jewelry page]
[About Us]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Garments] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Search] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 12:23 AM 12/12/2022
Last updated: 12:23 AM 12/12/2022