Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

With the end of the year rapidly approaching Judi and I would like to thank everyone with whom we have shared, researched, traded and, most importantly, admired vintage cufflinks. Over the past year we have had the pleasure of working with friends, clients and cufflink lovers throughout the United States and in many countries around the world.

In fact, we recently passed an milestone of sorts. With a flurry of business from Australia, we have now worked with clients on every continent except Antarctica. If only the penguins would adorn their feathery tuxedos with vintage dress sets! We would have every continent covered!

Over the past few days I have made several attempts to organize my perpetually cluttered desk. In so doing I came across notes I made several years ago about a house Charles Carrington built in the 1880s. Since the holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy beautiful Victorian homes, I will finish the year with ....

The House Carrington Built

Locating and researching antique cufflinks takes you in many directions. Often you follow an unpromising lead or stray clue with surprising results. The following architect's rendering is one such discovery.

Please click the above rendering for a larger view.

The rendering is of a house built by Charles L. Carrington in 1885. I believe, but have not substantiated, that this is the same Charles Carrington who in 1891 formed a partnership with Alfred Mayhew for the manufacture and sale of fine jewelry. In 1900 this firm became Carrington & Company. As faithful readers of this blog and visitors to the Antique Cufflink Gallery are aware I have a great fondness for the cufflinks and dress sets created by Carrington & Company.

The plan was published in the August, 1885 edition of the American Architects and Building News. An accompanying paragraph notes:

House for Mr. Charles L. Carrington, Newark, N.J.
Mr. Van Campen Taylor Architect

The house is now in course of erection on one of the principal residence streets of the city. The first story will be built of North River brick, laid in red mortar, with Belleville stone trimmings. The second story, etc., will be of frame shingled with cedar shingles. The roof will be slated. The interior will be finished with painted walls, tiled fireplaces and hard-wood stairs and mantels. The cost will be about $12,000.

It is clear Mr. Carrington was quite successful even before the founding of Carrington & Company. The care and quality that he brought to making Carrington cufflinks is also evident in the house he built.

Judi and I hope everyone enjoys a peaceful and joyous New Year!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Art Deco white gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

Snowflake Cufflinks

Several nights ago a few isolated snowflakes fell as I was walking the dog. Meanwhile, the constellation Orion was peaking up over the horizon. All signs of winter. It is once again time to celebrate the coming season with a flurry of snowflake cufflinks.

The term "snowflake" is commonly used to describe white gold or platinum cufflinks that shimmer with exuberantly engraved designs. Particularly popular in the decades around 1920, these sparkling cuff jewels capture the light hearted, optimistic spirit of the age. The variety of intricately engraved patterns that decorate snowflake cufflinks is phenomenal, almost as varied and unique as natural snowflakes. The dramatic white gold Art Deco cufflinks pictured above are a nice example.

Here are a few more snowflakes that recently blew into the gallery ...

WAB jazzy spiral and scroll cufflinks, circa 1920.

Wordley, Allsop & Bliss was one of the more prolific makers of fine cufflinks from the firm's founding in 1907 until the 1930s. WAB and its successor firms created cufflinks ranging in style from late Victorian to late Art Deco Moderne. These white gold cufflinks from the early 1920s feature jagged spiral centers surrounded by richly scrolling borders. They reflect the early Art Deco preoccupation with leaving no surface undecorated.

Link & Angell barley turned cufflinks, circa 1920.

Link & Angell was another maker of fine cufflinks during the early decades of the last century. These beautifully engine turned cufflinks are decorated in a pattern known as "barleycorn". The repeated, petal-like design and the frostiness of the white gold, inspired us to nickname these cufflinks "Winter Rose". Crafted in 14kt gold around 1920.

Wintry Art Deco diamond cufflinks, circa 1925.

These frosty white gold cufflinks always remind me of a field of freshly fallen snow in the winter moonlight. The shimmering white of the the gold and richly detailed engraving give the cufflinks a sparkling, almost crystalline appearance. A small diamond set in a navette setting adds to the wintery brilliance. Crafted in 14kt white gold around 1925.

Ziething "Radiating Wave" cufflinks, circa 1925.

The word "pizazz" could have been invented to describe the jazzy cufflinks created by Ziething & Co. during the 1920s. The firm excelled at creating dramatically engraved cufflinks that seem to radiate, not just reflect, light. This pair with radiating wave-like centers surrounded by dramatic track borders is a beautiful example. Crafted in 10kt gold, circa 1925.

To view these snowflake cufflinks and other elegant cufflinks,
please visit the Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Friday, October 30, 2009

George O. Street Cufflinks

George W. Street, circa 1900

A great variety of fine cufflinks were created in the decades near 1900. Styles ranged from Victorian to Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts to Art Deco. One of the firms contributing to the melange of miniature cuff masterpieces was George O. Street & Sons.

In 1837 George Street established one of the first jewelry manufacturers in the United States. Located in lower Manhattan the firm created gold rings, seals, watch fobs and other jewels for the carriage-trade jewelers of the day, including Tiffany & Company. In 1892 George Street retired to the family manse in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and passed leadership of the firm to his son George W. Street (pictured above). The firm remained in business until about 1950. Of particular interest are the beautiful gold cufflinks created under the leadership of the founder's son in the years around 1900.

George O. Street Celtic Revival cufflinks, circa 1900.

George O. Street cufflinks are miniature works of art finely crafted in gold. The firm's artists and craftsmen excelled at exploiting golds sculptural potential, creating gold cufflinks with dramatic shapes, intricate designs, and subtle textures. The gold was an integral part of the design - not just a bright setting for gemstones or a shiny surface to be elaborately engraved.

The above Celtic Revival cufflinks featuring intricately interwoven knotwork (plaits) are a wonderful example. The endless knots fill the inner borders of the cufflinks and encircle raised oblong centers of brightly polished gold. The subtle texture of the plaits and the natural patina of the precious metal throw the design into dramatic relief. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

George O. Street Art Nouveau Cufflinks, circa 1900

The Puritan settlers of the New Haven Colony were among the Street family's ancestors. No doubt their rigid sense of probity would have been offended by these Art Nouveau cufflinks created 250 years later by George O. Street & Sons. America had come a long way since the 1600s.

Close-up of "Nymph in Waves" cufflink.

Ocean nymphs enveloped in crashing waves and frothy seas were a classic Art Nouveau theme. Sometimes referred to as "Nymph in the Waves" or on the west coast "Surfs up, Nude", the risque scene was favored by makers and wearers of gentlemen's jewelry and accesories. These dramatic cufflinks beautifully illustrate the firm's ability to work with gold to create richly detailed miniature works of sculpture. The result is astounding when you consider that the cufflinks measure less than an inch across.

George O. Street Onyx and Gold Cufflinks, circa 1900

An example of the free flowing, organic forms of American Art Nouveau, the above cufflinks mysteriously glow with dark Onyx centers surrounded by undulating, spiraling gold borders. The upper surface of the gold is engraved with a subtle bark or snakeskin-like pattern. The contrast between the dark Onyx and warmth of the gold is heightened by the natural patination of the gold. For some reason, these cufflinks always remind me of a dark night sky lit by a few sparkling stars.

American Art Nouveau design was strongly influenced by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the founder of Tiffany & Company (another firm founded in 1837). George O. Street & Sons was a provider of gold rings and other jewels to Tiffany & Company. Although Tiffany & Company created its own cufflinks, the firm also retailed cufflinks from other noted makers of the day - including Carrington and Krementz. I suspect that George O. Street & Sons also provided cufflinks to Tiffany & Company. An interesting area of further research is the shared history of the two firms and possible interactions between the sons of the founders.

Reverse of George O. Street Cufflinks, circa 1900

George O. Street & Sons created beautiful jewelry and cufflinks from 1837 to about 1950. During that period the maker's mark of the firm was an "S" encircled in an oval. Found on the reverse of the cufflinks, the maker's mark preceded, or sometimes split, the gold purity mark.

George Street Maker's Mark.

To view these and other elegant cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

American Art Nouveau Cufflinks

Art Nouveau Cufflinks, circa 1900

In the decade before 1900 exceptional artist jewelers sought a break with the traditions of the past. Finding inspiration in nature, distant cultures, and their own fertile imaginations, these innovative jewelers created stunning jewels that were known collectively as the "Art Nouveau."

Different nations contributed unique interpretations to the Art Nouveau style. In France artists like Rene Lalique created jewels with fantastic woman-insect hybrids and other exotic forms. In Germany the new art found expression in the sinuous, tendril-like curves of the Jugendstil ("youth style"). And in Great Britain Art Nouveau jewels and objects reflecting elements of Celtic and Arts & Crafts design were created by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co.

Krementz Art Nouveau Cufflinks, circa 1900

In America jewelry and cufflink makers were quick to follow the emerging fashions in Europe. Krementz & Company was an early adopter of the the Art Nouveau style. The above Krementz cufflinks recall the flowing curves of the German Jugenstil and the dramatic illustrations of the British artist Aubrey Beardsley. At the top of this note is a beautiful pair of Link & Angell cufflinks likely inspired by the exotic Art Nouveau jewels created in France and the posters of Alphonse Mucha. The face and cascading hair of the woman are enveloped in the narcotic vapors of a poppy flower - a classic Art Nouveau motif.

Tiffany & Co. Sapphire and Diamond Cufflinks circa 1900

However, Amercian Art Nouveau cufflinks did not just imitate of the latest European fashions. A unique style of Art Nouveau emerged in the United States. Louis Comfort Tiffany (son of the founder of Tiffany & Company) was a leading proponent of Art Nouveau design. Inspired by trips to Europe and participation in international exhibitions, he contributed a distinct American Art Nouveau style - one emphasizing nature and the imagination.

The above cufflinks created by Tiffany & Company are a wonderful example. The flowing, rich curves and organic forms of the cufflinks have the appearance of seaweed or aquatic plants floating serenely in the water. Voluptuous, flowing curves and tight swirls are emblematic of American Art Nouveau design.

George Street Onyx and Gold Cufflinks, circa 1900

A second pair of American Art Nouveau cufflinks featuring gently flowing borders with tight swirls. The gold borders are subtly textured to create a vine-like, or possibly reptilian, appearance. The swirls at each corner are reminiscent of shimmering stars on a slightly overcast or foggy night. The overall organic shape and drama of the borders is heightened by black Onyx centers and the natural patination of the gold. Created by George O. Street & Sons in 14kt gold, circa 1900.

Tiffany's work with art glass undoubtedly influenced his approach to Art Nouveau design. Indeed, the design of many American Art Nouveau jewels show a strong affinity with the voluptuous curves and curls that Tiffany created in glass. The Favrile glass punch bowl exhibited by Tiffany at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900 is a wonderful example.

The affinity between the jewels and the art glass of the period is not surprising. One of the tenets of Art Nouveau design was to create a unified environment in which all elements - architecture, furniture, decoration, objets d'art and jewelry - followed consistent design principles and themes. A movement away from the cluttered eclecticism of the Victorian era.

To view these and other elegant cufflinks from the past,
please visit the Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Guilloche Enamel Cufflinks

Guilloche Enamel Cufflinks

Carrington & Co. purple guilloche enamel cufflinks.

Among the rarities in the world of antique cufflinks are gold cufflinks decorated with guilloche enamel. In part the rarity stems from the expertise and time needed to craft these glittering masterpieces. As a result, relatively few were created. Also, over the years the broad enamel surfaces were susceptible to wear and scratches. So, even fewer pairs have survived. The purple and white enamel cufflinks pictured above are a fine example of guilloche enameling. They were crafted by Carrington & Company in 14kt gold around 1920.

Guilloche enamel brings together two ancient and exacting arts - enameling and engine turning. Enameling is the art of fusing powdered glass on metal to create a hard, vitreous surface. The glass can be clear or colored, transparent or opaque. Examples of enameled jewels have been found among the ruins of the ancient Mycenaean civilization on Cyprus. The ornaments (sorry, no cufflinks) date from the 13th century BC.

Link & Angell dramatically engine-turned cufflinks.

Engine turning (or guilloche) is the art of engraving intricate, repeating patterns on a metal or ivory surface. The common guilloche designs include radiating stars, wavy lines, intricate spirals and concentric circles, ovals and other figures. The Link & Angell cufflinks pictured above are a nice example of the engine turners art. These cufflinks are named "Winter Rose" because of the beautiful radiating petal-like pattern and frostiness of the white gold. They were crafted in 14kt gold around 1920.

When an engine turned surface is covered with a layer of transparent colored enamel (i.e., guilloche enameling) magic occurs. The colored enamel pools in the valleys of the engraved lines adding rich color where the engraving is deepest. Subtle gradations in the intensity of the color highlights the design and throws the pattern into almost three dimensional relief. The effect is mesmerizing.

Carrington blue-gray guilloche enamel cufflinks, circa 1910.

The enthusiasm for guilloche enameling during the late 19th and early 20th century was sparked by the creations of the master Russian jeweler Peter Carl Faberge. Faberge and his workmasters created a dazzling array of enameled jewels and objets d'art. In doing so they elevated the arts of engine turning and enameling to new heights. Among Faberge's many enameled creations were cufflinks, desk accessories and the famous Faberge Easter Eggs.

The above Carrington cufflinks may have been inspired by Faberge's work. The subdued blue-gray enamel and classic canted-corner shape of the cufflinks recalls the elegant jewels of the Russian master. They illustrate the simple, elegant designs favored by Carrington & Co. and the firm's uncompromising commitment to craftsmanship. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1910.

William Huger blue guilloche enamel and gold cufflinks.

Equal to Carrington & Co. in creating beautiful guilloche enamel cufflinks was William Huger & Company. Of the two firms Carrington was the more prolific. But what Huger lacked in numbers the firm made up for with the beauty of its cufflinks.

The above Huger cufflinks feature light blue enamel over an intricately engine-turned pattern. The guilloche design brings to mind the fanned tail of a peacock. When wedded with the blue enamel the effect is like exploding blue fire works in a clear evening sky. The enamel centers are framed with gold borders of foliate and geometric scrolls. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1920.

To view these and other elegant cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Curvaceous Cufflinks

Sapphire and entwined heart cufflinks, circa 1900.

In the years around 1900 cufflinks and jewelry took a new turn. In fact, cufflink designs took a great many turns as fin de siecle jewelers and jewelry lovers embraced sinuous, intertwining curves. The dramatic whiplash curves of Art Nouveau designs, the intricate interwoven curves of ancient Celtic art, and sinuous serpents and flowering vines can all be found embellishing cufflinks of the period. A few of these curvaceous cufflinks are illustrated below.

Late Victorian serpent and vine cufflinks.

Sinuous entwined snakes and clematis vines decorate these late Victorian cufflinks. The Victorians loved jewels with hidden message and secret meanings. Intertwined or coiled snakes were considered a symbol of good fortune and eternal love. Clematis was a symbol for ingenuity. Perhaps the secret message of these cufflinks is that a long relationship or marriage takes both luck and ingenuity. Crafted in 14kt gold by Krementz & Company, circa 1890.

Celtic Revival cufflinks crafted in 14kt gold.

In addition to nature - snakes and vines - Victorian jewelers also drew inspiration from ancient civilizations and past cultures. Often sparked by archaeological discoveries, the Victorians enjoyed a seemingly endless parade of Egyptian, Classic, Etruscan, Roman, Viking, Celtic, Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance Revivals.

In the 1890s Archibald Knox working with Liberty & Company drew upon the intricate curvilinear designs of ancient Ireland. Knox's work inspired other designers and blossomed into the Celtic Revival. Beautiful jewels and objects were inspired by the interlaced motifs of the ancient Celts. The cufflinks illustrated above are a wonderful example. Crafted in 14kt gold by George Street & Sons, circa 1900.

Krementz & C0. Art Nouveau cufflinks.

Art Nouveau design could be described as curves unbound. While Art Nouveau jewelers also found inspiration in the sinuous forms of nature, they added imagination and fantasy to create never-before-seen jewels. The bold, exotic curves of Art Nouveau jewels are less restrained and more free flowing than in jewels of the late Victorian period.

The above cufflinks, created by Krementz & Co. around 1900, illustrate the new taste for dramatic curves and asymmetric design. Krementz was one of the leaders in introducing Art Nouveau design to the United States. You can find more about Krementz and the Art Nouveau in my earlier post Art Nouveau Cufflinks

To view these and other cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflinks Gallery.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gold Rush Cufflinks

Victorian quartz-in-gold cuff buttons, circa 1860.

One of the earliest distinctly American styles of jewelry was inspired by the discovery of gold in California in 1849. Imaginative San Francisco jewelers, among them Barrett & Sherwood and George Shreve & Company, worked with small pieces of quartz laced with veins of gold to create striking rings, watch cases, brooches and other jewels.

Gold veined quartz set in gold cuff buttons.

In 1853, Barrett & Sherwood displayed these "gold quartz" jewels at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York. The sparkling creations garnered great interest and gold-in-quartz jewelry evolved from a regional novelty to a national enthusiasm.

The Victorian cuff buttons pictured above are a wonderful example. Each cuff button features small rectangles of rose and white gold-bearing quartz set at an angle like the covers of an open book. Bold golden domes engraved with radiating lines and repeated chevrons form the ends. The cufflinks were crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1860.

Beautifully crafted reverse of gold-in-quartz cufflinks.

Prior to 1900 cufflinks were often described as cuff or sleeve buttons. The cufflinks attached to the cuff with fixed posts and round button-like backs. Inventive jewelers often set the button backs on hinges so they could be more easily inserted through the cuff. This style of cufflink was largely superseded by various "bean back" designs and British double-sided links that became increasingly popular around the turn of the century.

The reverse of these gold-in-quartz cufflinks illustrates the care with which they were crafted. The backs are closed with a gold plate that protects the gold-in-quartz specimens and adds strength to the design. The surfaces are beautifully polished and finished. Often with antique cufflinks the backs are as interesting as the fronts!

To view these and other cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflinks Gallery.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Carrington & Company Platinum and Pearl Shirt Studs, circa 1925.

The Mystery of the Missing
Shirt Studs

Antique dress sets often include only two or three shirt studs. In contrast, modern dress shirts usually require four studs. The natural question is "What happened to the missing studs?"

Undoubtedly some shirt studs have been lost over the years, others damaged and maybe some even repurposed as earrings or other jewels. But the mystery of the missing shirt studs is best explained by the evolution of the dress shirt over the past century and a half.

Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss Shirt Stud, circa 1925.

During the Victorian era dress shirts were a pullover style - somewhat like a golf or rugby shirt but with a detachable collar. The shirts did not have fully buttoned fronts, but instead were closed with just one or two buttons near the neck. As a result, often only two shirt studs were included in 19th century dress sets. Of course, the Victorians had other bits of paraphernalia to worry about, like collar buttons to secure those detachable collars.

Carrington & Co. Sapphire and Gold Shirt Studs, circa 1945.

With the dawn of the 20th century fully buttoned dress shirts became the fashion and additional shirt studs were required. During the first half of the century formal dress included a waistcoat (vest) or, after its introduction by British military officers returning from India, a cummerbund. Three shirt studs sufficed to close the shirt front. During the first half of the century most dress sets included this number. The stud sets illustrated in this note are largely from this period.

Carter, Howe Enamel and Gold Shirt Studs, circa 1910.

After World War II, the definition of formal attire continued to evolve. With changing times and social mores, tuxedos were increasingly worn without a waistcoat or cummerbund. The more fully exposed shirt front resulted in an additional stud being needed. Thus, contemporary dress sets include four shirt studs.

Larter & Sons Dark Abalone and Gold Shirt Studs, circa 1925.

Having addressed the mystery of the "missing" shirt studs, the question remains "How do you wear an antique dress set with a modern dress shirt?" There are several workable solutions.

1. Employ a discreet mother of pearl or matching stud to secure the lowest button hole of the shirt and, of course, keep your jacket buttoned.

2. Have a dress shirt custom made to accept three shirt studs. Not a bad way to complement your investment in an antique dress set.

3. Adopt either of the above solutions and wear a waistcoat or cummerbund. Being somewhat of a traditionalist this is my preferred approach.

Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss Sapphire Dress Set, circa 1925.

To view antique cufflinks and dress sets from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflinks Gallery.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Antique Dress Sets

Carrington Onyx and Pearl Dress Set, circa 1925.

In 1946 Fred Astaire performed Irving Berlin's classic tune "Puttin' on the Ritz" in the movie "Blue Skies." The performance beautifully captured the elegant fashion sense of the times and was an instant hit. Who can resist singing along to:

Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper
Super duper!

This enthusiastic sense of style is reflected in the elegant dress sets and cufflinks of the period.

The Carrington black-and-white dress set pictured above is a good example. It radiates sophisticated elegance. The black Onyx tops are set with small white Pearls and surrounded by richly engraved platinum borders. Created around 1925, the set was originally purchased at Tiffany's.

Carrington Mother-of-Pear and Pearl Dress Set, circa 1930.

Carrington & Company was a maker of beautiful cufflinks, dress sets and other fine jewels during the first half of the 20th century. These white-on-white cufflinks feature Mother-of-Pearl centered with a small white Pearl. The platinum borders are embellished with a repeated geometric pattern in the Art Deco style. Another example of Carrington's elegant, sophisticated designs. The cufflinks were sold en suite with a matching set of shirt studs.

Garrigus Onyx and Pearl Dress Set, circa 1930.

This pair of Onyx and Pearl cufflinks exemplifies the simple elegance of Art Deco design. With matching shirt studs and vest buttons, the elegant ensemble is perfect for a night at the opera. Crafted in platinum and gold, the dress set was created by L.E. Garrigus & Company around 1930.

During the early 20th century, dress sets often followed the etiquette of black and white tie attire. Black Onyx or creamy white Mother-of-Pearl were often accented with small pearls or diamonds. The preferred precious metals were platinum and yellow gold.

Carter, Howe Moss Agate Dress Set, circa 1900.

But, dress sets were not just a matter of black and white. The cufflinks above are from a full dress set created by the jewelry firm Carter, Howe & Company in the early 1900s. The set features beautiful Moss Agates set in bright yellow gold. Carter, Howe created arresting dress sets and cufflinks with unusual gemstones, enamel accents and striking designs. While Carrington dress sets exude formal elegance, Carter, Howe dress sets embrace elegance with a little pizazz.

Carter, Howe Enamel and Gold Cufflinks, circa 1910.

Another example of Carter, Howe design. These cuff links and matching shirt studs (see photograph below) feature Mother-of-Pearl centers and dramatic borders of white enamel and yellow gold. Carter, Howe and the successor firm Carter, Gough excelled at creating imaginative designs and worked in a multitude of styles that appeal to both the collector and admirer of estate cufflinks and dress sets. What better way to look just like Gary Cooper. Super duper!

Carter, Howe Enamel and Gold Shirt Studs, circa 1910.

To view these and other dress sets from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflinks Gallery.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Antique Diamond Cufflinks

Carrington sparkling diamond cufflinks, circa 1920.

In 1922 Emily Post, the Empress of Etiquette, advised aspiring gentlemen to "let diamonds be conspicuous by their absence." She went on to admonish that "Nothing is more vulgar than a display of 'ice' on a man’s shirt front, or on his fingers." While the excesses of Diamond Jim Brady might best be avoided, Mrs. Post's writings largely reflected the sensibilities of an earlier age.

Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss gold and diamond cufflinks, circa 1920.

During the 1920s, cufflink makers and their fashionable clients ignored Mrs. Post's advice. We are lucky they did. Some of the finest cufflinks and dress sets from the period were set with sparkling diamonds. Pictured above are examples from Carrington & Company and Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss.

Jazzy Art Deco cufflinks with diamonds, circa 1925.

Diamonds were often paired with platinum or white gold. The above jazzy cufflinks are a nice example of the bold, energetic designs embraced in the Art Deco period. They are crafted in white gold with radiating, engine-turned centers and bold, geometric Art Deco borders. Each cufflink sparkles with a small diamond set on one side.

These cufflinks were created during the 1920s or 1930s by an unknown maker. The mystery jeweler has been dubbed the "Winged Bridge Maker" because of the distinctive flared bridges employed to connect the two sides of the cufflinks. For more about this mystery maker and other examples of his work, see my posts from July of last year.

Diamond and Sapphire cufflinks in platinum and gold, circa 1920.

A colorful variation on the theme of diamond cufflinks were cufflinks set with diamonds on one side and sapphires on the other. Sometimes called "Night and Day" cufflinks, these two-sided cuff jewels were perhaps a nod to the Victorian ritual of wearing diamonds only after dark. The two-sided cufflinks allowed a wearer to display sapphires during the day and diamonds at night.

In the Roaring Twenties, as social customs evolved, these versatile cufflinks more likely allowed the wearer to jazz up their wardrobe with either diamonds or sapphires during the day at work, in the evening at the theater, and even into the early morning hours at the local speakeasy. They nicely illustrate the phrase "Putting on the Ritz."

"Night and Day" cufflinks, circa 1925.

To view other exceptional cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Platinum and Gold Cufflinks

Carrington Platinum and Pearl Dress Set, circa 1925.

Platinum is a magical metal. It beautifully holds intricate engravings, can be polished to a mirror-like finish and attains a shimmering, frosty patina over time. And, because of its purity, platinum does not tarnish like white gold and silver.

When first encountered by Europeans in the 1500s, platinum was discarded as "unripened silver." Platinum melts at a much higher temperature than gold or silver. As a result, it was a difficult metal for jewelers and creators of objet d'art to work with. During the Victorian era technological advances, like the high-heat oxyhydrogen blow pipe, made working with platinum more feasible. By the early 1900s the brilliance of platinum had captivated the jewelry world. The brilliant white metal became almost de rigueur for fashionable cufflinks and other fine jewels. In my opinion some of the finest platinum cufflinks were created during the early 1900s, culminating with the Jazz Age of the 1920s. The Carrington pearl and platinum cufflinks pictured above nicely capture the elegance and style of the age.

Frosty platinum and gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

One of the appealing qualities of platinum is the rich patina it takes on over time. In winter we occasionally get a snow shower mixed with fine particles of ice. At night, especially under a full moon, the freshly fallen snow and ice crystals shimmer and sparkle with a magical glow.

Antique platinum often has a similar appearance. Platinum does not tarnish, but over the years platinum cufflinks can accumulate microscopic scratches and abrasions that give the metal a shimmering, magical glow. The effect is sometimes called "Platinum Frost". The frosty platinum cufflinks pictured above are a striking example.

Beautifully engraved platinum and gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

The increasing demand for and limited supply of platinum resulted by the early 1920s in platinum costing eight to ten times as much as gold. Although occasionally you will come across a beautiful pair of solid platinum cufflinks from the early 1900s, most often platinum was combined with gold to create richly engraved cufflinks with platinum tops and gold backs. The pair pictured above feature geometric Art Deco borders which perfectly complement the richly engraved centers. I suspect many platinum cufflinks were patriotically sacrificed during World War I and II when the precious metal was needed for strategic purposes.

Carter, Gough platinum and gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

A beautiful variation on the platinum and gold theme are elegant two-tone cufflinks. Striking two-tone cufflinks from the 1920s add elegant pizzazz to any cuff. The Carter, Gough cufflinks pictured above feature platinum borders embellished with "C" scrolls and intricately engraved yellow gold centers. Carter, Gough and its predecessor firms created beautiful gold and platinum cufflinks and jewels from the mid 1800s to the early 1930s.

Below is a slightly earlier pair of platinum and gold cufflinks from Durand & Company, another maker of exceptional cufflinks during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. As a bit of cufflink trivia, the founders of Durand & Company, were cousins of the Hudson River school painter Asher B. Durand. I have always wondered if the artistic pursuits of the jewelers and painter ever influenced each other.

Durand & Co. platinum and gold cufflinks, circa 1910.

For additional views of the cufflinks pictured above,
please click the pictures.

To view these and other fine cufflinks from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflink Gallery.