'Is Connell's chain the steamiest thing about Normal People?" posited Tatler magazine.
In a TV series stuffed to the ceiling with steamy moments, it was a big question. And now, the small silver chain worn by Connell (Paul Mescal) in the adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel now has its own Instagram fan account, with almost 27k followers (@connellschain). Billie Bhata, who created the account, has described Connell's chain as "the sexiest inanimate object to hit the screen since Elio's peach in Call Me By Your Name". Which, when you think about it, is saying something.
It's been a while since a small silver chain worn by a guy has been called an 'erotically charged prop' on TV. Vice Magazine, arbiters of all things cool, have even waded into the debate: "Though there is still a stigma about men wearing jewellery in 2020," they say, "men have been wearing necklaces since Ancient Greece, when they were used to denote wealth and status."
You do have to wonder why such an innocent, barely-there piece of silver has lit the touch paper, especially given that male celebrities have been going barmy for bling way before Connell was even a glint in Sally Rooney's eye.
On an evening when every celebrity is trying to catch their share of attention, Harry Styles managed to become the talk of the 2019 Met Gala. With a theme of 'camp', the onus is on everyone to serve a series of bold, avant-garde fashion choices, and Styles' pearl earrings did just that.
But it's not always about making an androgynous, maximalist style statement. Singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes is also a fan of a dusting of diamonds and silver, while Timothee Chalamet has shown edge with a smattering of necklaces, bangles and on the 2020 Oscars carpet, a Cartier brooch.
Even in the hyper-masculine world of rap, there have been nods to experimentation and femininity. Where Kanye and Jay-Z laid the medallions on thick and heavy, Offset and Rocky A$AP have been spotted in delicate diamonds and pearls.
It all prompts the question: with a fictional Sligo schoolboy heading the charge, is this going to be the fashion trend of the Irish summer?
Stylist and editor of Menswear In Ireland Alexander Fitzgerald has seen the trend percolating for a while.
"I do a lot of work in Virgin Media, and you'll often see a lot of the Love Island alumni there - they're all wearing chains," observes. "That has been a huge bellwether of style.
Kanye West wears a gold necklace. Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company
"Irish men can be easily led," he adds. "If they see someone in The Only Way Is Essex or in a magazine wearing something, whether it's skinny jeans or loafers, they'll go mad for it. Irish guys can and will embrace the trend. Should they? Probably not."
Given that men's dressing has long been a sober enough affair (compared to women's), it was maybe only a matter of time before stylish men became more interested in personal decoration.
"There's often been a traditional way of thinking in Ireland where a watch or a family signet ring was worn, but for younger guys, wearing bangles or necklaces or bracelets is a way of distinguishing yourself from your peers, in much the same way that women wear handbags or shoes," Fitzgerald notes.
Seamus Fahy of Voltaire Diamonds observes that Irish men are often conscious of doffing a cap to tradition.
"We sell pretty much all wedding jewellery, and what we find is that most men want to match a wedding ring to their watch," he explains.
"The odd guy wants diamonds in his wedding ring - perhaps his mother has passed away and they take a stone from her wedding ring and insert it into their own. They often want to wear something meaningful like that."
Over at Chupi jewellery, head of marketing Laura Swanton echoes this sentiment.
"Here at Chupi we don't believe in following trends - when women buy a piece from us they are doing so to mark a moment, so when it comes to men we feel it should be the same," she says. "Wearing a piece of jewellery with a personal connection is so powerful, so finding a piece that you connect with is far more important than wearing something because you think you should."
Stylist/broadcaster Darren Kennedy found himself wearing a Chupi chain recently and has begun to wear a trio of subtle bracelets from Louis Vuitton and Bugari.
"In many respects the little chains had gone out of fashion but they've made a return in the last couple of years because there's a lot of nostalgia associated with them," he says. "There' s something almost macho about these dainty chains. For a character like Connell, it's probably the one piece of jewellery he owns and he never takes it off."
Whether for sentimental or style statement reasons, it's not just the young bucks in Hollywood that accessorise with intent. Johnny Depp has long worn leather chokers, wooden beads and other rockstar accoutrements.
On which, Fitzgerald notes: "I'll put it this way. If I was in a meeting and a middle-aged guy came in wearing tons of necklaces, rings and bangles, I'd probably struggle to take him seriously."
As for the leather bangles, beads or ethnic jewellery beloved of certain style followers: "Keep it for the full-moon party and interrailing," says Fitzgerald. "What looks good in the tropics doesn't necessarily look good on Henry Street.
"To be fair, the better looking the guy, the more he can pull off a trend. But in many cases, the jewellery can wear you."
Any man thinking of taking the plunge, Kennedy advises a note of caution: "If you're going to go maximalist, you really have to own it. Someone like Ollie Proudlock (in Made In Chelsea) decidedly owns it and has made it his thing.
"Going gradual is the only way to pull it off. If you decide you're going to be Tupac overnight, you'll be a laughing stock. And as a rule of thumb, if it takes you longer to remove your jewellery than your significant other, you're probably wearing too much."