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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
All About Jewels Dictionary
The Black Tie Guide
Fashion Columbia Study Collection
Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry
Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery
Clubs & Associations
- International Cuff Link Association
- American Society of Jewelry Historians
- Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts
- Society of Jewellery Historians
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Recent News: Cufflinks
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The Drapers Interview - Simon CarterDrapers, April 16th
Wholesale prices for West End range from £8.50 for cufflinks to £92 for a suit, while the mainline ranges from £8.50 for collar stiffeners to £155 for a suit. “We probably axed 10% to 20% [of the mainline] over the first few years of the recession,” he...Read more
Medals and cufflinks stolen from veteranHerald Scotland, April 9th
The case contained a miniature France and Germany Star and a 1939-1945 Victory Medal, along with gold cufflinks - engraved with the initials CSP - which were given to him as a wedding present 60 years ago. The train stopped at Berwick upon Tweed, ...Read more
Avakian introduces a pair of exclusive cufflinksRetail Jeweller, April 9th
Avakian introduces a pair of exclusive cufflinks. 9 April 2014. Intricately set with 184 baguette diamonds, 164 round brilliants and 4.70 cts of emeralds. Avakian cufflinks. The cufflinks took a completion time of 4 months, from the moment the centre...Read more
On The CuffRapaport, April 2nd
There's a special something about a man wearing cufflinks. He looks sophisticated and interesting, dashing and dapper. Think of the ad executives on AMC television network's “Mad Men” or Cary Grant in any of his movies. The cufflinks those men are ...Read more
Cufflinks to art yourself upThe Observer (blog), March 27th
Shirts with this make are an everyday occurrence, but what's for sure, most men shun them. Not because of the extra material, but perhaps because of the demand to be accessorised with cufflinks. Cufflinks? Well, these are [sometimes] metal studs used...Read more
Four New Trek Cufflink SetsTrek Today, March 26th
The four new sets are based on the Gold Key Star Trek comics, and feature Kirk, Spock and McCoy. They include: Captain Kirk Action Cufflinks, Spock Action Cufflinks, Spock Fascinating! Cufflinks, and Bones I'm a Doctor Cufflinks. Each officially...Read more
Underwater archaeology: Digging gold cufflinks from the watery depthsBBC News, March 19th
Underwater archaeology: Digging gold cufflinks from the watery depths. Scotland's west coast - with its islands and inlets - has hidden secrets. Beneath the crashing waves lie shipwrecks, where final voyages ended on jagged rocks. More than 40 years...Read more
WIN a pair of England Rugby cufflinksThe Rugby Paper, March 19th
The Rugby Paper has teamed up with The London Silver Company to giveaway a beautiful set of cufflinks. The London Silver Company.Com became an official licensee to England Rugby in January 2014. The England Rugby Silver Rose collection includes ...Read more