What images do pop in your head when you hear the words ‘biker jewellery”? Heavy necklace chains and chunky rings resting on burly hands? It’s true that biker bling is massive and hefty but are these features alone don’t fully identify it. Jewellery for bikers has everything – the history, significance, and the look. Stay with us and you’ll learn more about every building block that makes up this unique jewellery style.
Biker Jewellery History
The history of biker jewellery and accessories starts long before the first motorcycle clubs occurred. Early motorcycle enthusiasts did not wear any trinkets and even protective gears were scarce.
Many of those who were at the forefront of the biker movement fought on the battlefields of the Second World War. There, they fell in love with two-wheelers. They drew scary images of death and skulls on their vehicles to intimidate the enemy. Later, those images found new life in biker jewellery. The enemies who were defeated left behind trophies and the allies soldiers picked them up as a keepsake.
After they returned home and saw a completely new way of life, the former soldiers did not find anything more interesting than saddling a motorcycle and moving away from an alien society. To express their displeasure, they began to put on trophies brought from the war, in particular the Iron Cross, the highest award of the Nazi army. Thus, bikers got first signature piece of jewellery.
However, the Iron Crosses were not pieces of jewellery per se. The first more or less full-fledged baubles with a virtual biker label on them appeared only in the 1950s. Mexican immigrants, who flooded the states bordering Mexico, sold crafts made of melted centavo coins. Large rings featuring images of Aztec gods, horses, Indians, skulls, etc. were especially popular among shoppers on motorcyclists. Soon enough, the hands of every self-respecting biker were adorned with a dozen rings. Mexican designs are still popular in the biker community, only the yellowish colour of the melted down coins has been replaced by the flawless whiteness of silver or steel.
Biker Jewellery Symbols
If you read the previous paragraph carefully, you already know some of the much-beloved biker symbols – the Iron Cross, skulls, and Mexican ornaments. The first two are of special importance for guys on motorcycles as they represent the very spirit of the biker movement.
You shouldn’t think that the Iron Cross forged by the hands of the Nazis certainly denotes Nazi ideology. In fact, this image was popular with the German (more precisely, the Prussian) army long before Adolf came to power. The Iron Cross personified courage, bravery, masculinity, feat, i.e. those qualities every daredevil on a motorcycle wants to have. Today, if you see the Iron Cross on a ring or pendant of a motorcycle rider, you will hardly associate it with Nazism. Instead, it became a symbol of freedom, brotherhood, and independence, the main ideas of the biker movement.
Another misunderstood symbol of biker jewellery is the skull. Once upon a time, American soldiers drew skulls on tanks and aircraft to intimidate their enemies. Later, they came across skulls carved on Mexican rings. It seems like it was their destiny to be accompanied by death. However, motorcyclists came up with a different legend for the skull. They believe that the skull is, in fact, salvation from death. If a Grim Reaper sees its mark (the skull), it will think that its work has already been done and will leave a poor guy alone. So, it turns out that bikers are superstitious folks who are unlikely to get behind the wheel without their talismans.
Biker jewellery carries many other symbols. Mexican motifs such as Aztecs, Indians, axes, etc. are still popular in the 21st century. Animals embodying courage and strength (lions, bears, wolves) and freedom (eagles) are another category of sought-after biker symbols. Religious motifs didn’t spare bikers either, so it’s not uncommon to see a cross on a motorcyclist’s neck. Other common images are motorcycles and their parts, numbers with hidden messages, heroes of films and myths, as well as stylized images of bikers themselves.
The Look and The Feel
Biker jewellery doesn’t have to be huge. However, riding a motorcycle comes with certain rigours, so the sturdier the jewellery, the better. This concerns rings specifically because they are involved in everything that biker hands do. That being said, necklaces and earrings can be quite modest, especially if their sentimental value prevails over visual impact.
When it comes to metals, bikers basically gave up on gold. First and foremost, non-gold trinkets are cheaper. On top of that, gold is too pretentious for rather down-to-earth guys. Finally, gold doesn’t go well with chrome motorcycle parts. Silver and steel look much better stylistically. That being said, vintage biker Mexican rings were made yellow-ish because their core is nickel, bronze, and copper. They might blend worse with motorcycle parts but they manage to create an old school image attractive both to bikers and those who admire them from afar.
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