Shirts with French cuffs—which are cuffs with two buttonholes instead of one buttonhole plus a button—are designed for cufflinks (or cuff links, as they are sometimes spelled). Some cufflinks feature straps that wrap around the outside edges of a shirt’s cuffs, but most cufflinks feature an embellished surface that is worn facing out, as well as a pivoting post that discreetly secures the decorative side of the cufflink to the cuff.
In the late 19th century, as Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts vied with Edwardian sensibilities for style supremacy, cufflinks were often made of 14-karat gold and set with everything from onyx to agates. Lion heads were popular designs, as were cufflinks made from Roman coins. At the turn of the 20th century, a manufacturer called Fenwick and Sailor made numerous styles of cufflinks that resembled charms on a charm bracelet.
By the 1920s and ’30s, enameling techniques common to other types of jewelry—from rings to bracelets to brooches—had found their way to cufflinks. South of the U.S. border, Mexican silversmiths in Taxco created cufflinks in the shapes of tropical birds and other animals. And at some point, Royal Copenhagen and Wedgwood got into the act, the former creating pillow-like porcelain cufflinks in the firm’s trademark blue, the latter producing cameo cufflinks out of Jasperware.
The functional design of these cufflinks was as varied as their decorations. Instead of a pivoting post, some so-called “dumbbell” or shank-style cufflinks would feature a backing piece that was just small enough to squeeze through the cuff’s buttonholes. Small lengths of slender chain were substituted for posts in some designs, while double-face cufflinks (also referred to as double-side or double-panel cufflinks) had no “good” or “bad” side since both faces were richly detailed.
Cufflinks achieved a cachet of cool after World War II, when the sophisticated man about town kept a collection of cufflinks on hand that rivaled his array of neckties. In the 1960s in particular, a company called Swank was making 12-million pair a year, most of them big and brassy as costume jewelry. Crown shapes were a popular Swank design, as were cufflinks that showed off large chunks of topaz, smoky quartz, and other semi-precious stones. Swank also made cufflinks for Masons and other fraternal orders, while Hugh Hefner sold his devotees square black cufflinks with a white bunny at their centers.
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Clubs & Associations
- International Cuff Link Association
- American Society of Jewelry Historians
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Recent News: Cufflinks
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Cuff Links That Open BottlesHamletHub, July 17th
"The French Cuff Bottle Openers appear to be classic, formal cufflinks suitable for accessorizing a business suit but once they are removed from cuffs they fit around caps and can be used to pry bottles open," explained Fred Berns, Hammacher Schlemmer...Read more
Fox News Just Loves These Rape Joke CufflinksSlate Magazine (blog), July 14th
"All I'm trying to say is that I am intimidated by you guys and I had to overcompensate, and I snuck the cufflinks out of the house without my wife knowing," Payne said, because it's not an episode of Outnumbered without the male guest pretending that...Read more
Poppy cufflinks made from WW1 shells to raise cash for veteransExpress.co.uk, July 13th
The Royal British Legion is using the poppy cufflinks and lapel-pins to mark next month's centenary of the 1914-1918 conflict. The accessories are made of solid brass from artillery shell cases found on battlefields across the Channel. An RBL spokesman...Read more
Outnumbered Guest Wears Cufflinks Depicting Caveman Clubbing WomanMediaite, July 11th
At the end of a segment on today's Outnumbered, host Sandra Smith suddenly noticed that guest dude and Fox host Charles Payne had some, uh, interesting cufflinks. “This is a, this is a caveman dragging a woman by the hair with one club in one hand and ...Read more
Just for Men: 5 Pairs of Cool New CufflinksJCK (blog), July 10th
Between Crumbs closing and the oppressive heat (and all the colorful odors that come with it), New York City is kind of an awkward place to be right now. And in this crazy heat, I feel particularly bad for the guys who have to wear long sleeves. Add a...Read more
Want to get to the top? Wear a skirt suit or cufflinksThe Australian Financial Review, July 8th
A switch from buttoned shirt cuffs to cuff links can signal a man's intention to rise to management level. When I was starting out, I overcame my nervousness with a pair of big, electric blue glasses, which I thought made me look older. The principal...Read more
TF Est. 1968 Create Cufflinks with Flying TourbillonsSuperyachts.com, July 1st
The tourbillon, which is housed in a steel cage, is powered by the movements of the wearer's wrist and is encased beneath a sapphire-treated crystal for added resistance. Only 1968 sets of each coloured cufflinks will be produced. Founded in...Read more
Cufflink Aficionado Reveals Line of Groomsmen CufflinksDigitalJournal.com, June 30th
To help make a statement at weddings and create a memorabilia to cherish, Cufflink Aficionado includes Groomsman Cufflinks in its broad range of men's cufflinks, to meet the customer's personal interests. Morgan Hill, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/30/2014...Read more