Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Gems for the gents

Philadelphia-based dealer Brad Wilson reveals why men’s estate jewelry is becoming a big business.

By Phyllis Schiller

What’s the market like for men’s jewelry?

We’ve noticed an increase in demand, with men’s jewelry becoming more accessible. We have also noticed people becoming more comfortable purchasing online, as opposed to using traditional brick-and-mortar stores. We’re in a niche market with estate jewelry, especially when it comes to different and unique men’s pieces. Men have worn this jewelry before, so the precedent is already set for wearing it. This puts us in a good position to offer it to new owners.

What are the best eras, styles or categories to look for when stocking men’s jewelry?

People definitely have a desire to take a piece of the past with them, and our inventory inherently lends itself to that. From simple men’s bands to more elaborate Art Nouveau and Art Deco gemstone rings, we have found these pieces appeal to collectors. We’re as detail-oriented in our online descriptions as possible so that people have a good idea what they’re looking at when shopping on our website. Another positive is that we’re digitally progressive; we’re constantly updating our website to include features such as live chat, extended email hours and video requests.

Where are the best places today to source the jewelry from? Is buying direct from the public a good option?
The primary goal is to find pieces that are in exceptional condition for their age. In terms of where to find them, we’re fortunate enough to have a large dealer network to buy from, and we source globally. Our inventory turns over pretty quickly, so it would be difficult to source solely from the public. We do, however, provide our customers with the option to submit their pieces for review; we enjoy seeing jewelry from across the country, even if it’s something we might not add to our collection.

What are the most unusual, unexpected or hard-to-source men’s jewelry items that are in demand?
Unique, period, signed gemstone rings are first on that list. The demand for them is high, and they have become exceedingly rare. We try to source uncommon pieces that are expertly crafted and that are in great condition for their age. This is important, as we often find once-beautiful pieces that have become worn over time, causing the details to fade dramatically. This makes them unmarketable to retail customers.

Have men’s jewelry items become more unisex, and are women turning them into their own statement pieces?
One example that we love to stock is signet rings. They transcend time, and our customer base has really taken to them. They can be worn by anyone at any time, making them universally popular. Other items that are in high demand are fobs, specifically from the Victorian era. They are incredibly detailed and can be worn in so many different ways by both men and women. For instance, unique unisex fobs can be worn solo on a bracelet or as a collection grouped on a chain.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2021. To subscribe click here.

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