Is men’s jewelry set to take off in China?

    As high-profile celebrities embrace traditionally feminine adornments, the growing demand for men’s fine jewelry is reshaping the global luxury landscape, particularly in China.
    Chinese actor Xiao Zhan was named a global brand ambassador for Boucheron in 2023. Image: Boucheron
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    Growing demand for men’s fine jewelry is changing the global hard luxury landscape, particularly in China, as cultural norms evolve and high-profile celebrities and KOLs opt for traditionally feminine adornments at high-profile events.

    Globally as well as in China, this trend is largely powered by prominent figures in sports and entertainment. In recent years, athletes like Odell Beckham Jr. and Patrick Mahomes and celebrities like Harry Styles have redefined male jewelry and challenged traditional notions of masculinity by wearing bold necklaces or bracelets and diamond brooches at high-profile events.

    This trend is mirrored in China, where male celebrities have frequently appeared on magazine covers wearing feminine-looking jewelry over the past several years. This trend stretches back to even before April 2020, when pop star Wang Yibo appeared on T Magazine China's cover sporting Givenchy pearl earrings, garnering critical acclaim and topping Weibo’s trending charts.

    Wang Yibo's groundbreaking T Magazine cover in 2020. Image: New York Times
    Wang Yibo's groundbreaking T Magazine cover in 2020. Image: New York Times

    One month later, Elle China showcased pop idol Jackson Yee adorned in Tiffany rose gold bracelets and rings, typically associated with women. These appearances spurred a broader acceptance of gender-fluid fashion in the years that followed, encouraging young Chinese men to experiment with their style. More recently, popular actor and singer Xiao Zhan was named a global brand ambassador for Boucheron, helping the French jewelry house expand its visibility among Xiao’s vast fanbase.

    Recognizing the potential of the men’s jewelry market, brands like Louis Vuitton, David Yurman, and John Hardy have introduced dedicated collections. Louis Vuitton’s Les Gastons Vuitton collection, launched in January this year, includes a range of necklaces, rings, and earrings crafted from gold, platinum, and diamonds. The collection, with prices ranging from $2,080 to $42,500, caters to both new and seasoned jewelry collectors.

    Globally, the men’s fine jewelry market is poised for significant growth. While the $7.3 billion men's luxury fine jewelry market is dwarfed by the $44 billion women's segment, its annual growth rate of 7.3% surpasses the 4.6% growth seen in the women's sector.

    Embracing gender-fluid fashion#

    The rise of gender-fluid fashion is a significant factor driving the growth of the men’s jewelry market in China. For the past several years, young Chinese consumers, especially millennials and Gen Zers, have shown themselves to be more open to androgynous styles than their older counterparts. This shift is evident in the popularity of male celebrities wearing traditionally feminine or more androgynous jewelry.

    As Pooky Lee, a prominent fashion critic and founder of the Shanghai-based curator studio ExhibitingFashion, told Jing Daily, contemporary jewelry brands prioritizing fun concepts over traditional materials are gaining traction in China. Brands like Cough in Vain, which produces genderless statement pieces, have developed solid fan communities, reflecting a growing market for innovative and experimental jewelry designs.

    In China, luxury brands must recognize and destigmatize long-standing male accessory stereotypes to capitalize on this burgeoning market. Take the diamond, for example. While traditionally seen in the West as a symbol of "forever love," Chinese millennials and Gen Zers view diamonds more as fashion symbols than commitment pieces. In China, millennials comprise the biggest demographic of diamond buyers, purchasing around two-thirds of all diamond jewelery by value.

    Cough in Vain makes gender-neutral jewelry that has won fans globally. Image: Cough in Vain
    Cough in Vain makes gender-neutral jewelry that has won fans globally. Image: Cough in Vain

    Meanwhile, the younger Gen Z cohort is emerging as a pivotal force in shaping the future of the diamond industry. This cultural detachment allows young Chinese men to buy diamonds for fashion statements rather than romantic gestures.

    On social media platform Xiaohongshu, the hashtag #MensJewelry (男士珠宝) has more than 430,000 posts, where male fashion KOLs share their tips on navigating luxury’s limited men’s offerings. Underserved by dedicated male collections – or interested in more unisex styles – many Chinese men are now buying women's luxury jewelry with gender-neutral designs from brands like Chanel, Piaget, and Bulgari, further highlighting the demand for more versatile pieces.

    Home-field advantage#

    Despite the promising outlook, global brands may face challenges in capturing the full potential of China’s men’s fine jewelry market. Local brands, with their nuanced understanding of Chinese culture and consumer behavior, might be better positioned to lead this market transformation.

    Local brands excel in digital strategies, crucial in a market where e-commerce plays a significant role. In 2022, China’s online jewelry sales jumped 27% to 235 billion RMB ($33 billion), with significant contributions from platforms like and Douyin. Domestic brands’ agility in digital marketing and e-commerce gives them an edge in reaching tech-savvy younger consumers.

    Furthermore, local brands are stepping up with innovative designs and unique product offerings that resonate with the modern Chinese consumer. The number of local jewelry patents increased by over 20% in 2022, showcasing a commitment to creativity and innovation. The question, as global brands invest in their men’s collections, is whether they’ll be too late to cash in as the mainland China market grows, evolves, and powers ahead at its own speed.

    • The global men's luxury fine jewelry market reached $7.3 billion in 2023, with a notable annual growth rate of 7.3%, surpassing the 4.6% growth of the women's segment.
    • Brands like Louis Vuitton, David Yurman, and John Hardy are launching dedicated men's collections to tap into this growing market, recognizing the potential to attract both new and seasoned jewelry collectors.
    • In China, pop stars such as Wang Yibo and Jackson Yee have driven the trend towards gender-fluid fashion, normalizing traditionally feminine jewelry for men.
    • Local Chinese brands are excelling with aggressive digital strategies and innovative designs, achieving a 27% increase in online jewelry sales in 2022, positioning them advantageously in the tech-savvy market.
    • Understanding local consumer behavior and cultural nuances, local brands like Chow Tai Fook and Cough in Vain are better positioned to lead the market transformation, showcasing a commitment to creativity with over 20% increase in jewelry patents in 2022.
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