How Do Male Celebs Rock Pendant Necklaces?

Lester Fangonilo - October 5, 2021


Many male celebrities are touting the merits of jewelry as the perfect accent to any man’s wardrobe. But we have to ask: is there a right or even a wrong way for men to wear jewelry


Whenever the words “men” and “jewelry” are mentioned in the same sentence, most of us think of big bad butch-types who would head out with layers of gold chains and pendant necklaces looped around their necks. 

If you want to be a little more au courant about it, you could also think of Johnny Depp or Mickey Rourke. Remember the time they played up the wild gypsy aesthetic with strings of beads and an assortment of chains and earrings. Or maybe even consider the hardcore urban vibe of rappers like Li’l Wayne with their massive gold chain pendant necklace hanging around their necks.

Specifically, pendant necklaces have taken a bad rap over the years for being too outre, effeminate, or just plain weird. (We still shudder at the way wall clocks have been worn as outsize pendants; it’s a fashion nightmare!)

There are actually several types of pendants that are acceptable as jewelry for men: classic military dog tags hanging from a thin ball-chain, religious imagery or iconography, conventional pendants, and avant-garde pendants that reflect how lively or edgy its wearer’s personality is.

The Case for Religious Ornamentation

Actor and rapper Mark Wahlberg is a practicing Roman Catholic and, for him, wearing a cross around his neck isn’t just a way to spruce up an outfit, but an outward expression of his faith


In the early '80s, Madonna and designer Jean-Paul Gaultier transformed the cross from a religious symbol of redemption and sacrifice into a banging accessory: oversized (as big as a Catholic bishop's pectoral cross pendant), blinged out, and anything but simple.


In these more socially sensitive days, however, religious pendants have returned to their original purpose as an expression of one's faith, though they are more tastefully made these days. In general, cross (plain) or crucifix (bearing the likeness of the martyred Christ) pendants are made considerably smaller and crafted from either pure gold or silver. These usually hang on shorter chains and tend to rest on one's chest just where the breastbone and collarbones intersect. 


While staunch Catholics Mark Wahlberg and the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant wore plain crosses, Christian stars like Guardians of the Galaxy's Chris Pratt have likewise followed suit. If you're Catholic, a protective Saint Benedict's Medal, the Virgin Mary's Miraculous Medal, or the Carmelite scapular rendered in precious metals are suitable alternatives.

British actor Christian Bale may not be Jewish, but his character was in American Splendor, hence the golden Mogen David around his neck.


Jewish celebs like Canadian R&B star Drake have their own way of expressing their faith through their bling, sporting the Mogen David - Star of David - on a chain around their neck. As with their Christian counterparts, these pendant necklaces are worn with great respect and regard for their faith, albeit in a suave and stylish manner.

Rocking the Dog Tags

You know you're in good company when Thor himself hangs dog tags around his neck. Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth rocks the look by keeping it simple, using dog tags on a longish ball chain to emphasize the rugged look of jeans and a plain white tee


Dog tags are, in essence, a functional pendant. In standard military attire, these are worn in pairs as an identification device. Both of the tags are stamped with the wearer's name, rank, basic medical information, and even religious affiliation (in case you need to, God forbid, call in a minister of the faith.)

As an accessory, however, these exude machismo: a masculine charm that adds a touch of ruggedness to simple outfits, but especially the classic combination of jeans and a crewneck (or V-necked) white tee. Moreover, while standard-issue dog tags are made of stamped aluminum, more bespoke ones made by jewelry artisans are pressed or cut from sheets of gold, silver, or platinum. They may also be embellished with filigree as opposed to plain stamping.

Dog tags are normally worn on a thin stainless steel ball-chain, and the tags are usually positioned in the center of one’s chest. Some jewelers can replace the chain with a finer-textured one made with silver or a cord made with braided leather or fabric to add to the ruggedness. 

It is also common to have one tab paired with a pendant in a different shape, and this second tag is also a functional pendant in its own right.

The late screen legend Paul Newman was a fan of functional pendants himself. In this promotional still from the film Cool Hand Luke, Newman sports a pendant that doubles as a bottle opener - an edgy yet useful accessory to have about one’s person


Functional pendants run the gamut from keys to bottle openers such as those worn by Paul Newman in the film Cool Hand Luke, or even small screwdrivers for emergencies.

But going back to dog tags, keep in mind that these must be worn with respect to actual armed forces members. This is as opposed to a quirky bijou worn by Justin Bieber or one of the guys from Jersey Shore. A little less testosterone and a little more dignity, please.

The Case for Creative Pendants

Actor Johnny Depp sports a pendant reminiscent of a ship’s anchor - possibly a throwback to his iconic role as the whimsical Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise


Pendants can be wrought in numerous forms and can look like anything from simple medallions embossed with the wearer's initial or a unique design, to more elaborate forms such as carefully etched feathers like the pendant worn by actor Robert Downey Jr., to exceptionally edgy pieces such as the skull pendants worn by former Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell. 


Frankly speaking, pendants can take on any form, provided that these are small enough to, again, rest on your chest where your collarbones and sternum intersect.


Rule of thumb: while pendants can be worn outside plain casual shirts, they usually need to be tucked under the shirt if you're wearing a button-down with a turn-down collar or a dress shirt. If you're the type, however, who has a good enough physique to show off some chest, pairing these with a V-necked tee is a great way to style.