The Revival of the Cufflink

Cuno van der Feltz, Curator and Co-Founder Gallerease
Cuno van der Feltz
Curator and Co-Founder
31 Articles1 Curated artwork

Cufflinks are making a comeback! The second half of the 20th century was all about innovation; we experienced the rise and fall of disco, punk, even bubblegum pop, with all of these movements translating directly into fashion trends. But the designers and influencers of the 2000’s are taking an incline towards costume traditions and retro styles, re-enter: cufflinks.

Did you know that cufflinks first appeared in the 1600’s? After the Middle Ages, noblemen started wearing woven shirts of which the visible parts were embellished with lots of frills, ruffs and embroidery. The cuffs would be held together with ribbons. This trend evolved into the 17th century, when the elite added a cufflink to their official costumes to declare a certain status.

Antique French Victorian Mask Cufflinks
Antique French Victorian Mask Cufflinks, ca. 1890, 18K yellow gold.

Adding a changement to the sleeves of a shirt really caught on in the 18th century, introducing cufflinks to a much broader public. Men would secure the sleeves of their everyday shirts with a simple yet effective button.

Boucheron "emaille cloissonée on gold" cufflinks, 20th century.

By the middle of the 19th century, the modern cufflink had become a popular and even fashionable item, both middle and upper class gentlemen could be seen wearing them on a regular basis. Shirt fashion had also transformed, making it even more practical to use cufflinks. Following the industrial revolution, cufflinks too became mass produced items and were made available in different price categories.

14K yellow gold cufflinks with a brilliant cut diamond
14K yellow gold cufflinks with a brilliant cut diamond

The Prince of Wales, later known as Edward VII (1841-1910), popularized cufflinks as jewellery items when he stepped out wearing colourful Fabergé cufflinks. From then onwards, the business of cufflink-making expanded into a wholly new territory. As of the 20th century, cufflinks were designed in all kinds of forms, using different materials such as gold, copper, glass and iron combined with precious gemstones and enamel.

Van Cleef & Arpels Onyx Gold Cufflinks
Van Cleef & Arpels Onyx Gold Cufflinks, ca. 1890.

After World War II, men’s fashion evolved rapidly and cufflinks became a thing of the past, with the exception of business and formal wear. Thankfully, cufflinks were introduced back into everyday style during the 1990’s and have by now become wholly re-integrated into the wardrobes of fashionable and stylish men.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at the rest of this wonderful selection of cufflinks on Gallerease.

Header image: golfer cufflinks.

Written by Cuno van der Feltz on 09 Nov 2020, 12:00 Category EducationalTagged Buying Art, Collecting Art