Cufflinks are the accessory of choice for any discerning gentleman, as well as making a great gift for the man in your life. But, how did they come into fashion and what should you look out for when buying a pair of cufflinks?
Read our definitive guide to cufflinks, and find out everything you need to know about these tiny pieces of men’s jewellery, what styles are available and the investment potential they can provide.
From just £105
A history of cufflinks
It was King Charles II who popularised wearing cufflinks and brought them into the consciousness of the masses. Tailors had started using stitched buttonholes in shirt cuffs and affixing them with coloured buttons attached with a chain in the 17th Century. But it was due to the stylish King wearing them in public that they became part of a gentleman’s regular dress, and were often given as gifts leading into the 18th Century.
During the Victorian period, jewellery became more ostentatious and it wasn’t unusual for highly polished gold or silver cufflinks adorned with gemstones or intricate designs to be worn on a daily basis.
Now, most cuffs have buttons already sewn on, as mass-produced shirts are the norm, but the resurgence of the French double cuff in recent years has seen cufflinks come back into fashion. They are seen as a status symbol in many, but with designs ranging from sensible and sedate to the weird and wacky, they are just as much a fashion statement as anything else.
When should cufflinks be worn?
Cufflinks provide the finishing touch to any suit and can be worn to reflect the personality of the wearer, giving men an adornment that can be used to portray their own style and tastes.
Most cufflinks are worn with a suit jacket or blazer, with the cuffs sticking out of the bottom of the sleeve to show off the jewellery. But, they are now just as often seen on standard shirts in a more casual setting, making them a highly versatile addition to any man’s wardrobe.
Cufflinks are pretty much always worn at weddings, both by the groom and his groomsmen. In fact, cufflinks are often given to the wedding party as a gift on the day and worn there and then so that they all match, or are personalised with each person’s initials as a keepsake memento of the day.
|Silver Oval T Bar||Silver Onyx & Diamond||9ct Gold Antique Round|
Function v design
The function of a cufflink, as you might expect from the name, is to link the cuff of a shirtsleeve together. As long as they achieve that and don’t fall out because they are too loose or the clasp is faulty, or are too tight so that movement is restricted or they pop off the sleeve, then they are doing what they are supposed to do.
More often than not, it is the design of a cufflink that draws someone to them, rather than the practicalities. If you need a pair of cufflinks for a particular shirt or outfit, then choosing ones that complement it nicely or suit your own style is likely to be of even more importance than whether they are going to stand up to the rigours of your daily life.
Mechanics of cufflinks
There are several different types of backs you can get for cufflinks, with various clasps available to affix them to your sleeves. One of the most popular types is the bullet back, which just slides straight through the hole and then locks horizontally, much like a treasury tag.
For something more fancy, a whale tale is a more obvious and flashy back to a cufflink, looking exactly as the name suggests, like the tale of a whale, which flips back to secure the cufflink in place.
A chain link is very traditional, but can sometimes mean that the cufflinks are not as tightly secured as some of the other more modern clasps which are generally quite substantial. The same is true of a fixed back cufflink, where there are no moving parts and it just gets slotted through the whole and then the bulbous back acts as a stopper.
Enamel cufflinks grew in popularity in the early 20th Century, and are still very much en vogue in vintage and antique jewellery selections. The enamel can be coloured in any shade and style making them a versatile choice. These smart oval striped gold enamelled cufflinks are some of our favourites.
Because cufflinks have been in fashion for many years, there are lots of vintage examples available, in various shapes, sizes and materials. The flat surface of many cufflinks makes them ideal for engraving too, perfect for giving as a truly unique gift.
|18ct Gold Chain Link||9ct Gold Double Link||White Gold Lapis Lazuli & Diamond|
Famous auction house Sotheby’s has long included cufflinks in their sale catalogue, with prices regularly reaching in excess of the £2,000 mark, with those in solid gold and studded with jewels going for even more. Who could believe something so tiny could be so valuable?
Since they are only worn occasionally, cufflinks tend to keep their lustre and remain in excellent condition, making their resale worth higher than many other kinds of jewellery. Make sure to keep them in their box when they are not being worn, and you could find yourself, or your descendants, sitting on a gold mine in years to come.
We have a lovely selection of cufflinks in stock in our Guildford showroom, in different shapes and colours and styles, so there is bound to be something that suits your requirements.