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
Other Great Reference Sites
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Recent News: Cufflinks
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Brad wore cufflinks designed by AngelinaThe Asian Age, March 4th
Actor Brad Pitt's dapper look in a tuxedo at this year's Academy Awards also owes to his creative fiancee Angelina Jolie, who designed his cufflinks. Pitt's tuxedo buttons and cufflinks were designed by Style of Jolie jewellery line with Robert Procop...Read more
Brad Pitt Wore Diamond Buttons and Cufflinks Designed by Angelina Jolie to the ...iWantPop, March 3rd
So what better way to showcase her designs than on the biggest style stage in the world: the Oscars? Sunday night, Pitt could be seen sporting tuxedo buttons and cufflinks from Jolie's Style of Jolie jewelry line with Robert Procop, consisting of...Read more
When Should You Wear Cufflinks?The Los Angeles Fashion, February 26th
It's often said that women are much luckier than men, when it comes to things like fashion and formal clothing. Whilst an awful lot of women would argue that it's a small reward for several centuries of oppression, it is true that men don't have the...Read more
Classic-Cufflinks Online Store LaunchesPR Newswire (press release), February 25th
With a style to suit every occasion, Classic-Cufflinks.co.uk launches today with a huge range of stylish merchandise to suit every gentlemen's fashion need. Covering everything from classically styled cufflinks that are fantastic for the office, to...Read more
One Lap of the Web: Cool cufflinks in your Crown CoupeAutoWeek, February 19th
Want to be the coolest person at your next event "celebrating lifestyle and automotive achievement that will embody the realization of automotive aspiration"? (Note: this was part of a real invitation we received.) You can do no better than buying...Read more
Now you can wear a little Frank Underwood on your sleeveWashington Post (blog), February 19th
Just days after fans got their first peek at the bespoke skeletons in Congressman Frank Underwood's closet, men are already clamoring for a sartorial taste of the corrupt life. And now thanks to Paul Song, owner of Cufflinks.com, they can sport their ...Read more
Unleash Your Inner Frank Underwood With House of Cards-Inspired CufflinksGQ Magazine (blog), February 18th
These Frank Underwood-inspired cufflinks are fashioned after the ones he wears in the series. Of course, they work for him because they're his initials, but if you're a "damn the man" type, the "F U" cufflinks could take on another meaning. Snag 'em...Read more
'House of Cards' premiere react: Blood on the TracksEntertainment Weekly (blog), February 14th
“You should return the cufflinks.” I love Doug, which probably makes me a sicko. Claire was in full spider mode from the get, coolly manipulative and controlling of every situation. So much of the character's menace comes from simple moments, like when ...Read more