Guys, This Pearl Jewelry Is for You
Simon Greatwich, Anton del Rosario and Emilio Caligdong, who play for Philippines soccer team the Azkals, model Jewelmer necklaces.
Do real men wear pearls?
Jewelmer International, a French-Filipino jewelry company, hopes to convince consumers that the answer is yes. The rare golden Palawan South Sea pearls it sells are plenty cool for tough guys — and it launched a new men’s line last year to prove it, employing actor Piolo Pascual for the ad campaign.
“It is true today that the majority of pearl-wearers are women,” says Mia Macapagal, Jewelmer’s marketing manager. But when worn the right way, she adds, “men can also use pearls to add a subtle touch of elegance.”
In the past, men sought pearls for their symbolic power and value. Whether to wear them now has stirred up some debate among Filipino men. For the fans — and there are some — design, rather than power, is the selling point.
“The stereotypical image that people think of when you mention pearls is that long necklace that goes perfectly with a woman’s flowing white dress,” says Vincent Golangco, a local TV personality and editor in chief of WheninManila.com. “In today’s new age though, the designs and styles of the pearls are very different and unique. I have a single pearl type of necklace that looks great with my jeans and T-shirt.”
He also likes what pearls represent, he says. “It’s something organic, made by Mother Nature herself. Wearing a pearl shows my support for our oceans and that I want to find ways to protect and save them.”
T.J. Manotoc, an anchor at local network ANC News, says he, too, thinks guys can wear pearls. “It is interesting because we are known as the Pearl of the Orient and it is one of our major export products. It would be a nice touch for men to be open to wearing pearls.”
“It is just a matter of how it is designed,” he adds. “If it carries a statement that I am a Filipino, and I am wearing one of our natural resources that we are proud of, why not?”
Presidential spokesman Ricky Carandang thinks otherwise. “I’m conservative,” he says. “I’ve never worn them myself. Whoever wants to wear them, that’s great. Traditionally, wearing pearls for men is being viewed as feminine, but I understand men are beginning to do that. That’s good for them.”
For all the guys who are willing to go pearl, Jewelmer offers single pearls on leather necklaces that retail for about $2,500, as well as single-pearl stud earrings, pearl cufflinks and pearl tie pins. Recently, it even enlisted the Philippines national football team to promote wearing golden pearls. Emilio “Chiefy” Caligdong, Anton del Rosario and Simon Greatwich posed in Jewelmer necklaces.
“At first they were a bit hesitant about it,” Ms. Macapagal says, “but now that they have it, they don’t seem to want to take it off.”
So what about the bottom line: Are customers responding? Ms. Macapagal demurs. “It is still a modest portion of our sales, but sales have been very steady,” she says.