06 October 2014

Jewel History: Men Wear Hidden Jewels (1901)

King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, ca. 1903

"Men Wear Hidden Jewels"
(originally appeared in the New York Times on 6 Oct 1901)

The theft of Lord Angelsey's £40,000 worth of jewelry [1], used in his personal adornment alone, has brought out much talk in ultra-fashionable society regarding men who wear unseen jewels. Investigations among West End jewelers disclose the fact that there is an extensive trade in curios and costly articles, worn beneath ordinary clothing, such as snakes around waists, necks, and legs, bangles, chains, and amulets of various, singular designs.

The Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, ca. 1900

Besides this extraordinary vogue, the fashion among men of wearing jewelry increased enormously this year, many using two pairs of links in each cuff and jeweled buttons with evening waistcoats.

Lord Brampton, ca. 1877

It is recalled in this connection that King Edward occasionally wears a bangle on his wrist, the the late Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha wore a heavy gold bracelet for years, and that Lord Brampton (better known as Justice Hawkins of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice), even when sitting on the bench, wore a number of such ornaments.

1. The jewels of the extravagant, flamboyant 5th Marquess of Angelsey were stolen by his valet, a man named Julian Gault, in September 1901. Gault claimed that he was only a middleman, and that the jewels had been delivered to a woman in France, but he was convicted in late October 1901 and sentenced to five years in prison. The jewels were never recovered. (To give you an idea of the magnitude of the theft, £40,000 in today's money would be worth nearly four million pounds.)