Saturday, May 24, 2008

Frank Krementz two-tone gold cufflinks, circa 1925.

Frank, the other Krementz

Frank Krementz was a member of the Krementz jewelry dynasty. He was the brother of George Krementz, founder of the eponymous Krementz & Company. In 1910 Frank left his brother's firm after 38 years and established his own shop, Frank Krementz Company. One wonders if there was a dynastic split, artistic differences or just new opportunities best exploited in a new firm.

Frank Krementz Sapphire and gold cufflinks, circa 1925.

Frank Krementz cufflinks are wonderful examples of Art Deco design. They capture the fun exuberance of the Jazz Age and reflect it in light, imaginative designs. Sometimes set with small vibrant gemstones or accented with enamel work, the cufflinks were designed to dance and sparkle on the cuff. Frank Krementz links are a nice counterpoint to the bolder, heftier designs that were popular during the late Art Deco period.

Frank Krementz white gold cufflinks, circa 1925.

The white gold or two-tone tops were engraved with intricate linear or floral patterns. The prevalent use of white gold and style of the cufflinks suggests that the firm began manufacturing cufflinks in the early 1920s.

Frank Krementz Co. specialized in creating 14kt white and yellow gold jewelry. Over the years the firm produced a glittering array of cufflinks, bar pins, pendants and lorgnettes. After World War II, the firm's focus shifted to eyeglass frames and accessories. In the late 1960s the firm returned to the fold when it was acquired by the original Krementz & Company.

The maker’s mark for Frank Krementz Company is a reversed "F" joined with a "K". The mark is preceded by "14" for the purity of the gold. The maker's mark is most often found stamped on the cross bars of cufflinks. Because the cross bars are rounded the mark is sometimes obscured or only partially rendered.

Frank Krementz Company 14kt white gold cufflinks, circa 1925.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Carter, Howe Moss Agate Cufflinks, circa 1900.

Moss Agate

Diamonds are dandy and Sapphires swell, but when it comes to antique cufflinks Moss Agates have an inescapable charm. A beautiful variety of quartz, fine Moss Agate has the appearance of a watery forest of seaweed floating in a crystal, clear pool. Like fingerprints, each specimen of Moss Agate is unique. It is little wonder that this intriguing gemstone was a favorite among cufflink and jewelry makers during the early 1900s.

Carter, Howe Cufflinks, circa 1900.

One of the firms that embraced Moss Agate was Carter, Howe & Company. Carter, Howe created beautiful cufflinks and dress sets with Moss Agate set in 14kt gold. The firm often backed the transparent Agates with mother of pearl to highlight the beauty of the green inclusions. Carter, Howe was a predecessor of Carter, Gough & Co. which created beautiful platinum and gold cufflinks during the 1920s.

Carter, Howe Moss Agate Vest Buttons, circa 1900.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ziething & Co. Cufflinks

Ziething & Co. Octagonal gold cufflinks, circ 1925.

Ziething & Company is one of the lesser known makers of fine cufflinks from the first half of the last century. The firm created intricately engraved cufflinks with beautifully engine-turned centers surrounded by bold white gold borders. The brightly engraved links literally sparkle and dance on the cuff.

Ziething & Co. Starburst gold cufflink, crca 1925

Ziething & Co. was based in Newark, New Jersey and specialized in manufacturing 10kt and 14kt gold jewelry. Based on the style and construction of the cufflinks, Ziething appears to have created jewelry (or at least cufflinks) during the 1920s and early 1930s. I suspect the firm did not survive the Great Depression, like a number of the cufflink makers from the early 20th century.

The maker's mark for Ziething is a "Z" in a diamond-shape cartouche. The maker's mark is usually found in the middle of the connecting bridge. The other side of the bridge is stamped with the gold karate mark, "10K". The Ziething mark is sometimes misidentified as an elongated "N".

Ziething & Co. "Spider Web" gold cufflinks, circa 1925.

If you would like to view more elegant cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Surand & Co. cufflinks.Durand & Co. platinum and gold cufflinks, circa 1910
Durand was one of the many jewelry makers
based in Newark, New Jersey

Three Books and a Museum

As the temperature climbed above 80 degrees last week, my thoughts turned to summer. Two of my favorite summertime activities are reading by the lake and visiting the air conditioned confines of museums. So here is a list of several of my favorite cufflink-related books and one of my favorite museums.

The Glitter & The Gold: Fashioning America's Jewelry by Ulysses Grant Dietz, et al

During the decades from 1850 to 1950, Newark, New Jersey was the center of fine jewelry manufacture in the United States. The majority of the cufflinks featured in the Antique Cufflinks gallery and this blog were designed and manufactured by Newark jewelry makers. In 1997 an exhibition at the Newark Museum explored the history and evolution of the Newark jewelry trade and the stunning jewels created. The Glitter & the Gold documents the exhibition and offers many wonderful pictures and informative essays. If you are interested in American cufflinks and jewelry this book is indispensable.

Cufflinks by Susan Jonas and Marilyn Nissenson

This is a fun book. It tells the story of gorgeous cufflinks and the fabulous people, le beau monde, who wore them. The book presents a sampling of fine links from the early 1700s through 1990 with an emphasis on early 20th century and Art Deco examples. The book is beautifully illustrated with wonderful photographs. This is a great read for an afternoon at the beach.

Cuff Jewelry: A Historical Account for Collectors and Antiques Dealers by Howard L. Bell

While the Jonas book samples the history of fine cufflinks, this book goes into greater depth on a narrower range. Howard Bell illustrates cufflinks from the Victorian era to the 1960s with over 1000 images. He covers diverse topics such as historical periods, materials, methods of manufacture, gemstones and makers' makers. His Chronology of Linkages is particulary interesting. Published in 1994, the book's price estimates provide a useful benchmark for how antique cufflinks have appreciated over the past 15 years. This book is a useful resource for the aspiring cufflink collector.

The Newark Museum Newark, New Jersey

An opportunity to visit The Newark Museum should never be passed up. The museum has a wonderful collection of American jewelry and decorative arts from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Museum's Curator of Decorative Arts, Ulysses Grant Dietz, has organized a number exemplary exhibitions on jewelry and related arts. Mr. Dietz is also the lead author of the first book listed above. You should visit the museum's web site to learn of current exhibitions and special events ( ).