*** boys' jewelry

Boys' Jewelry

boys' jewelry
Figure 1.--This advertisement for Hamilton watches appeared in a February 1951 American magazine. Watches were considered appropriate graduation presents.

Boys until the 1990s were not know for wearing jewelry when earings became common for a short period. This caused us to have a closer look at the topic and we have found more jewlry items than we expected in thevphotographic record. While girls are more associated with jewelry, boys have also worn a variety of jewelry accessories. Younger boys might wear pendants and lockets. There were several items associated with the necktie. Rings have varied in popularity. Boys have even before earrings became a vogue worn a variety of jewelry. Watches have been the most common, but a varriety of other pieces of jewlry have also been worn. The popularity of the various items have varied over time. There have also been age variations.


We notice a rnge of jewlet items in the old photographs we have archived on HBC. At first we did not give any attention to jewlrt, but as HBC has developed we have come to pay more attention to the small details. Our archive is till fairly limited to draw any firm chronological assessments converning jewlry items. We note short-term fads like earings. Actual rings seem more constant over time. Warches are popular over time, but affected chronologically by stylistic and technological trends affecting the watches. Lockets seem affected by both age and chronological trends. There have been a variety of jewlry items associted with neckties which have varied over time along with the popularity of ties.

The 1850s

We notice boys waringh rings in a number of Daguerreotypes. Sometimes gold color was even added. Thus boys were wearing rings in the 1850s. And as we have ctrouble differentiating 1840s anfd 50s Dags, presumably the 1840s as well. We know rings were worn in the 50s because we see them in Ambros as well. A good example is Elisha Dickerman, an American boy about 1850, who wears a large gold ring. We note a younger American boy and girl wearing neckaces with a cross pendant, we think in the 1850s. As almost all our Dags and Anbros are American, these are American trends. We are less sure about Europe.

The 1880s

We notice a very young American boy, Bert Dodge wearing a gold ring (1880s). An unidentified American boy who looks to be about 6 years old wears a locket and ring (1885).

The 1900s

We notice younger boys in the late-19th and early-20th century wearing lockets. A good examole is 2-year old Bert Cross about 1905.

The 1930s

We notice an unidentified American boy wearing a plain ring about 1930.

The 1950s

ID bracelets with heavy links were very popular in the 1950s. Girls would wear matching bracelets with smaller links. Wrist watches were popular graduation gifts.

The 1960s

Boys in the 1960's a lot of boys wore those wide-band watches.

The 1970s

Wide band watches continued to be popular in the 1970's, and some times with an ID bracelet. Some extreme Punk jewelry fashions appeared in the 1970s. We notice English boys wearing rings in a clothing ad.

The 1980s

Boys in the 1980's wore at least TWO watches at once (remember?) and a bunch of 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). From about 1981-82, a new fashion craze hit the UK, called " New Romantics" or Trendies.Trendies was probably the more local and mainly used term for this group of fashion concious people. Boys used to wear earrings in thier left ear, and only the left ear. A year or so later, tie pins came into fashion with chrome plated digital watches that played various chimes,rings and necklaces were also the order of the day as well. At about 1983, the tiepins progressed slightly with a small chain that hung from each end,these chains would dangle across you tie, although in my school days these only lasted a week as they were consisded dangerous incase boys had a fight and they strangled themselves (I still even now think it was ridiculious as they were thinner that a piece of string and wouldn't hold the weight of a catapiller). Half gold sovereign rings became the rage in the mid eighties, but that was in you later years as soon as you left school and got a job.

The 1990s

The major development in the 1990s was that boys began wearing earings. By the end of the decade it had becomne quite common--although still only a minoritybof boys wore them.


Watches are perhaps the most common jeweley items worn by boys in thev20th 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.


Country Trends

We have noted destinctive trends associated with jewlry in different countries. Identity braclets for boys were popular in America during the 1950s. Ear rings became the in thing among American boys in the 1990s. We also see them in Europe. A French reader tells us, "In France, it is traditional that the godmother provude a necklace chain with birth date engraved for the Baptism. In the past times babies had a gold pin on his bib." A British reader remembers regulations about jewelry at his schools. He writes, "I noted the Trutex schoolwear ad and was surprised to see one of th boys wearing a ring. It just reminded me that jewellry was banned in our school -- even for girls and that included watches.It made me laugh to recall that one boy was showing off a watch his dad had bought him as a reward for passing the eleven plus and out teacher noticed and took it off him until going home time. We spent the rest of the day asking him the time. I notice that all of the boys in the picture on the main English personal experinces page have watches, so the policy must have different in different types of school. My mate Michael told me that his sisters were allowed to wear cruxifixes to their school but he was not allowed to wear a St Christopher that he'd been given at his Christening so at his school it was different for girls and boys. They gave the same reason as our school -- that it was dangerous to wear them round the neck when playing. He was not allowed to wear it to play out either -- only to mass on Sunday but he did keep it in his room and showed it to me. It was silver and he once considered selling it when we were going to run off together after some incident had got us into trouble but, of course, it all came to nothing."

Mother's Jewelry

We nother jewekry for mothers with rememerances of their children. Our information here is still quite limited.Some of the most common were lockets. Such lockets might hold a lock of the child's hair, which is why they are called lockets. They also held minature painted portraits and after the develiopment of photography (1840s), photographic portraits. Children also wore lockets, but generally only younger boys. We note photographic pins in the late 19th century which were worn by mothers.


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Created: March 7, 2000
Last updated: 12:32 AM 12/12/2022