The Ring Cycle

Our reporter makes the rounds of men's jewelry.

Aside from perhaps a select few well-groomed homeboys and Italian gangsters, your average Joe looks like a bit of a jackass in jewelry. Doesn't stop some of them from wearing it, of course, but most men seem to stick with a wristwatch and, when applicable, a wedding band. Of course, there will always be the Hacky Sack set with their beaded hemp bracelets and the malnourished indie rockers in plumber's chain chokers, but as far as real jewelry goes, most men are basically, well, relegated to the basics. Diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but most guys don't even have a cubic zirconia to call on in times of trouble, so I figured I'd hit a few jewelry stores to discover what's out there.

At Michael Wm. Farrell (324 15th Ave. E., 206-324-1582), sales associate Solveig Myrseth says they actually have a lot of male customers, and not just a few of them are gay couples shopping for rings. Although the store has a large selection of estate jewelry for menantique watches, gemstone rings, tie clips, and cuff links figure prominentlyMyrseth says that these days custom-made titanium rings are the thing. The same material that's used to make tennis rackets and airplanes, titanium is an incredibly lightweight metal that's about equal to white gold in terms of value, and Farrell's has a selection of really handsome rings made with the stuff.

Something Silver (2662 University Village N.E., 206-523-7626) features a selection of silver designers from all over the world. They seem to also specialize in chunky, contemporary styles. Although there's just one case reserved for gentlemen, it has some very pretty stuff in it. A thick and industrial-looking toggle-clasp Figaro link bracelet goes for $119and I'm sure its bold, unique design has gotten more than a few guys the digits they were after. Similarly, several larger-than-life sterling chainsmost around $175are, according to the sales associate, "popular with guys who go for the thug look."

The same associate shows me a display featuring the designs of Australian jeweler Rodney De Gruchy. I've already got my eye on a substantially sized, pebble-textured ring sprinkled with tiny garnets ($89), so when she tells me it's a unisex design, I slip it on my finger and take it for a test drive. For a moment, I feel like I might be a little bit in love with it; I'm having trouble imagining the type of guy who could pull it off. When the associate slips the ring back in the case, she tells me that although a lot of their customers are older guys with suspicious winter tans, a lot of younger women come in and buy stuff for their boyfriends (smart college women who are betting their guys will sharethat's what I'm thinking).

Two small cases house the men's wares at Porter Jensen Studio (2661 University Village N.E., 206-522-7050). They deal mostly with new, original designs here, so there aren't any strange, one-of-a-kind antique heirloom pieces crying for just the right vintage jacket. They do, however, have a rather dazzling selection of heavy, Mr. T-style gold chains and equally hefty bracelets. It'll cost you about $450 just to get started, but if you can bring that A-Team look back, I say more power to you: Rare is the dude who can make a gold necklace look good, but then again, rarity is what beauty is all about.

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