Even wearing a simple chain can be a minefield for men – The Telegraph

While some men avoid all jewellery, others adorn themselves. Old hand Christopher Howse and young gun Guy Kelly have the measure of treasure
There is plenty about modern life to cause celebration and aggravation in equal measure…but it is never safe to make an assumption about how the different generations feel about anything, from vegans to scented candles. 
This week Christopher Howse and Guy Kelly assess the value of jewellery for gents.
A couple of celebrities of whom I had never heard – which happens more and more frequently – got married in secret the other day. Their secret was obviously safe with me.
But then Milo Ventimiglia (best known, it’s said, from a television drama series called This Is Us) and Jarah Mariano (a swimming-costume model) hung about in a bar in Los Angeles, each wearing a wedding ring. Well, yes, that would be something of a giveaway.
Except, I’m not sure I’d notice even that. I know that men of bad character sometimes take off their wedding rings to misbehave. But plenty of honest men never wear them in the first place, and others, like many women, can’t take off their wedding rings because they are sunken in the flesh like a park railing in a growing plane tree.
That seems good, and such a ring hardly comes into the category of jewellery. It’s more like a non-fungible token. But I think I can say here, without much danger of it reaching Milo and Jarah, that for more than 40 years I wore a gold chain.
It was not the sort that goes round the neck, like Mr T’s. I had a pocket watch and the chain usually connected it to the buttonhole of my lapel. For much of the time few noticed it, because I took my coat off in the office and hung it up.
I suppose I was lucky no one stole it in the street, especially when I went abroad, though most people abroad are less given to theft than some people in England. In Soho, most of the burglars, shoplifters and petty gangsters I rubbed shoulders with three or four decades ago didn’t regard theft as wrong. That was a matter of convention. But they didn’t steal at home – in the pubs where they drank.
I left off wearing the chain when the watch stopped. Ordinarily I’d have taken it to be mended at Jenkins in Rochester Row. But Jenkins, with its black-painted shutters, put up each night and taken down each morning, closed, in favour of a much-needed estate agent. Now, with the watchless of the world I am united: we have lost our chains.
I cannot be the only person who read Christopher’s admission that ‘for more than 40 years I wore a gold chain’ and immediately imagined him playing Connell, Paul Mescal’s brooding lothario in the tremendously horny BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People. What a different show that would have been. A better show, in many respects. Alas, pocket watch.
As a man under 40 who was alive in the Western hemisphere during 2020, I was almost lassoed by Connell’s chain myself. There was Mescal: tough but sensitive, muscular but supple – like a T-rex hewn from Kerrygold – and often wearing nothing but a cheap, thin necklace. ‘I could look like that,’ we men said to our partners, while covered in banana-bread crumbs and sprawled on a sofa made from stockpiled Andrex. ‘You couldn’t,’ came the response. But we didn’t hear it, because we were already busy reading the results of the Google query ‘connell normal ppl chain thing buy now cheap sexy’.
I never did buy the chain. In the end, the possibility of being transformed into Paul Mescal by a £20 necklace was not enough to override the guarantee that somebody would, at some stage, go, ‘Huh, is that a… Connell chain?’ and I’d be forced to deny it, saying I’d worn it for years actually, and who is Connell anyway, and oh, I don’t own a TV or computer and in fact cannot read or see or hear at all, so there’s no way I could have known, and…
Easier just not to buy it. Which means besides my newish wedding ring and, I suppose, the elaborate network of semi-permanent nipple clamps and light-up genital piercings I’ve had for years, I wear no jewellery. I’d like to, but what?
My dad wears a signet ring, but he’s always used it like a gavel on the table when really making a point, so the advice of my therapist is that I should give that one a miss. Other finger furniture is also an option – I know some Gen Z men who wear a ring on every finger. Unfortunately the line between ‘cool, rebellious’ and ‘Bobby George’ is too thin for me. A bracelet? Bit Prince Harry. A brooch?
Bit Princess Michael of Kent. I need something Normal People wear. The search continues.