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.