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.
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.
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.
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.