Monday, December 8, 2008

Charles Keller platinum and gold Cufflinks, circa 1920.

Snowflakes on the Cuff

Yesterday afternoon we had the first snowfall of the season. Although not exactly a blizzard, there was enough snow to cover everything in luminous, shimmering white. With this first sign of winter, it seems like a good time to talk about Snowflakes.

In decades around 1920, a great variety of cufflinks were created. Among the popular styles were white gold and platinum cufflinks with beautifully engraved centers. The cufflinks often featured radiant stars or stylized flower designs surrounded by bold, geometric borders. These lacy, white jewels have become known as "Snowflakes".

Platinum and Gold engraved "Snowflake" cufflinks, circa 1925.

Here are an elegantly engraved pair of cufflinks that are a nice example of the Snowflake style. The centers feature stylized flower motifs surrounded by elegant Chinese key borders. These cufflinks nicely illustrate the light, floating feel of the Snowflake style, as well as the diverse influences that contributed to Art Deco design. Crafted in gold and platinum, circa 1925.

Ziething Sapphire and Gold cufflinks, circa 1925.

Radiant star bursts set with rich blue man-made Sapphires brighten these Ziething cufflinks. Ziething & Company was a maker of fine cufflinks during the early decades of the last century. The firm excelled at brightly engraved cufflnks which beautifully sparkle and dance in the light. Crafted in 10kt white gold, circa 1925.

Frosty platinum and gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

Snowflake cufflinks are usually beautifully designed and well crafted. However, they present two challenges. First, Snowflakes tend to get lost against a white shirt cuff. These white gold and platinum cufflinks are best appreciated against a darker or patterned background.

Second, although Snowflake cufflinks are well crafted, they tend to be lighter in weight. Thus, they are ideal for special occasions, but may not take well to daily wear. As always, closely examine the backs of Snowflakes (and other cufflinks) to assure that the links and brackets are in accord with the intended wear.

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

A flurry of Snowflakes and other fine cufflinks can be found
in our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Carrington & C0. Sapphire and Blue Enamel Cufflinks, circa 1925

Winter Blues!

With the rapidly approaching holiday season thoughts turn to cufflinks ... both as gifts and for personal wear. One of my favorite color combinations during the holidays (and any other time of the year) is regal blue and antique gold. Featured in this note are three pairs of elegant gold and blue cufflinks. These cufflinks show that the prettiest ornaments are not always on the Christmas tree!

Pictured above is an elegant pair of Carrington & Co. cufflinks set with Sapphires and accented with rich blue enamel borders. The blue Sapphires and enamel accents beautifully contrast with the warm radiance of the brightly polished gold. Created around 1925, these cufflinks nicely reflect the bold, dramatic designs favored during the Art Deco era.

Carter Sapphire and gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

In a slightly earlier, more ornate style, these richly detailed Sapphire and gold cufflinks were created by Carter, Gough & Company around 1920. The brightly engraved centers and C-scroll borders glow with the warmth of antique gold, while the blue Sapphires call to mind the verse "Silent night, holy night / All is calm, all is bright." Carter, Gough was a maker of fine cufflinks and dress sets during the early decades of the last century.

Blue Enamel and Gold Cufflinks, circa 1920.

Intricate gold scrolls floating in a sea of rich blue enamel give these cufflinks a sense of Edwardian elegance. While the brightly polished centers will beautifully reflect flickering candlelight or the dancing flames of a fire. The elaborate, flowing scrolls are reminiscent of the lacy designs favored during the Edwardian era. Crafted in 14kt gold, circa 1920.

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

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Cufflink Makers - Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss

The decades around 1920 have been nicknamed the Gold and Platinum Age of Cufflinks. In America jewelry makers, many based in Newark, New Jersey, created beautiful cufflinks in a great diversity of styles and in precious metals ranging from silver to platinum to gold. One of the more prolific makers of fine cufflinks during this period was Wordley, Allsopp & Bliss (WAB).

WAB Egyptian Revival cufflinks in 14kt gold, circa 1910.

Founded in 1909, WAB and its several successor firms created elegant cufflinks that drew upon and updated the historical revival styles of the Victorian era. WAB cufflinks were beautifully crafted in 14kt yellow and white gold and often rivaled the creations of the other preeminent cufflink makers of the period (such as Carrington & Company, Carter, Gough & Company and Wm. Huger & Company).

Pictured above is a WAB cufflink in the Egyptian Revival style with stylized lotus blossoms and papyrus fronds in a cruciform arrangement. The beveled edges of the cufflinks are highlighted with an exotic zigzagging meander of black enamel. WAB excelled at balancing an eclectic array of elements in their cufflinks without the design looking overly cluttered.

WAB Scroll and Garland 14kt gold cufflinks, circ a 1920.

The eclectic enthusiasm of WAB is nicely illustrated in these "Scroll and Garland" cufflinks set with striking cabochon-cut Sapphires. Exuberant S-scrolls dominate the cloisoned borders while classically inspired garlands fill the centers. The WAB cufflink designers successfully infused these historical motifs with the fun and pizazz of the 1920s. Sort of 18th century formalism meets Jazz.

WAB Pinstripes and Gold cufflinks, circa 1920.

Of course, not all WAB cufflinks were embellished with intricate designs. The pair pictured above is the epitome of simple elegance. The design reflects the simpler linear and geometric designs of the Art Deco period. The borders are accented with black enamel. This particular pair was given to a graduate of Brown University in 1920.

I believe WAB made cufflinks from about 1910 until sometime in the early 1930s. Like many cufflink makers of this period, production appears to have ceased or at least curtailed during the Great Depression. The firm was eventually absorbed by Krementz & Company during the 1950s.

Wordley, Allsopp and Bliss maker's mark.

The most common maker's mark for WAB and its successor firms is a "W" and a "B" resting on the sloping sides of an "A". The maker's mark is usually stamped along with the purity of the gold on the cross bar or bridge of the cufflink.

More photos of the above cufflinks can be found in the
Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Antique Onyx Cufflinks

Over the past several months, I have written about antique cufflinks set with shimmering Moonstones, mesmerizing Moss Agates and iridescent Mother of Pearl. Another beautiful gemstone that is elegant on the cuff is Black Onyx.

Carter, Howe Onyx and Gold cufflinks, circa 1890.

During the Victorian era the midnight shades of Black Onyx were most often associated with mourning jewelry and the rituals of bereavement. Towards the end of the era the inky darkness of the gemstone began to shed its more sombre connotations. By the early 1900s, elegant cufflinks and shirt studs crafted in gold and Black Onyx had become de rigueur for black tie affairs.

Onyx, Diamond and Platinum Cufflinks.

Sparkling with diamonds and platinum, these elegant Carrington cufflinks reflect the light, airy jewelry designs of the early 1900s. They feature eight-sided Onyx tops centered with small collet-set diamonds. The platinum borders are richly engraved for an added touch of elegance. Crafted in platinum and 14kt gold, they speak to the undeniable elegance of Black Onyx and diamonds.

Garrigus Onyx and Pearl Cufflinks, circa 1930.

During the Art Deco era (circa 1920 - 1940) Black Onyx remained a favorite with jewelry designers. The dark black of the Onyx beautifully contrasted with the glowing brilliance of platinum and pearls. And the easily fashioned gemstone was ideal for the bold, geometric designs of the period.

Pictured above is beautiful cufflink created by L.E. Garrigus & Company. Garrigus was a maker of fine gold and platinum cufflinks and jewels during the first half of the last century. Their cufflinks were sold by Tiffany & Company and other fine jewelry retailers.

L.E. Garrigus Onyx, Pearl and Platinum Dress Set, circa 1930.

The Garrigus cufflinks are part of an elegant dress set with a pair of cufflinks, 3 shirt studs and 4 vest buttons. The set nicely illustrates the 1920s catch phrase "Putting on the Ritz!"

To view more antique cufflinks set with beautiful gemstones,
please the Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Moonstone Cufflinks

Carter, Howe moonstone cufflinks, circa 1900.

The shimmering, billowy sheen of Moonstone was eagerly embraced by late Victorian and Art Nouveau jewelers. Gently rounded Moonstones enhanced the romance and mystery of jewels and contrasted with the sharper edges of faceted gemstones. This note illustrates a striking pair of gold and Moonstone cufflinks created by the jewelry firm Carter, Howe & Co. in the years around 1900.

Moonstone and 14kt gold cufflink, circa 1900.

Crafted in 14kt gold, the cufflinks feature cabochon-cut oval Moonstones set in beautifully chased gold bezels. The simplicity of the design complements and heightens the beauty of the gemstones.

Carter, Howe & Company, along with its successor firm Carter, Gough & Co., created beautiful gold and platinum cufflinks, dress sets and accessories during the early decades of the last century. The principals of the firm appear to have had a particular affinity for lesser known, more unusual gemstones like Moss Agate, Onyx, carved Mother of Pearl and Moonstone. Although sometimes mislabeled as semi-precious, these gems become rare treasures when found in a pair of antique cufflinks.

Carter, Howe maker's mark and gold purity mark.

The Carter, Howe maker's mark, an arrowhead surrounding a small letter "C", is stamped on the curved bridges of the cufflinks. To the left of the maker's mark is found "14K" for the purity of the gold.

Additional photographs and details of these cufflinks can be
found in our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Winged Bridge maker, circa 1925.

The "Winged Bridge" Maker - II

In last week's note I discussed cufflinks created by an unidentified jewelry firm, nicknamed the "Winged Bridge Maker". I illustrated several cufflinks that were two-toned and featured intricately engine turned centers (see example above).

The unknown maker was not limited to beautifully executed abstract and linear designs. The Winged Bridge Maker also created striking cufflinks with rich floral and foliate centers. Two examples are illustrated below.

Art Deco "Classical Elegance", circa 1920.

The first pair echoes the formal neo-classical designs of the late Victorian period. The yellow gold centers feature acanthus leaves arranged in a swag pattern around a stylized eight-petal flower. The white gold borders feature small rosettes with flowing leaves and simple geometric corner motifs. Crafted in 14kt white and yellow gold, circa 1920.

Art Deco "Flower Power", circa 1930

The design of the second pair of cufflinks is decidedly bolder. The eight-petal flower has "exploded" to dominate the yellow gold center with spear-tipped petals. Crowded between the elongated petals are small six-petal flowers. The white gold border features bold geometric motifs with the floral designs now relegated to the corners. Based on the style and design of these cufflinks, they date closer to 1930 than to 1920. Crafted in 14kt white and yellow gold.

These two cufflinks nicely illustrate the evolution of Art Deco cufflinks from the refined, almost neo-classical designs of the early 1920s to the bolder, geometric motifs of the 1930s.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Winged Bridge Maker gold cufflinks, circa 1930.

The "Winged Bridge" Maker

Several weeks ago I wrote about a distinctive group of cufflinks created by an unknown maker. Because of the unique design of the connecting bridge, I provisionally named the maker of the cufflinks the "Acanthus Bridge Maker".

This week I illustrate another collection of striking cufflinks by an unknown maker. Crafted in yellow and white gold, these elegant cufflinks feature intricately engraved (engine-turned) centers surrounded by bold geometric and foliate borders. The cufflinks sparkle with the exuberance of the Jazz Age. A beautiful example with dramatic engine-turned centers and bold Art Deco borders is pictured above.

Reverse of cufflinks by Winged Bridge maker.

The unknown maker of this second group of cufflinks also favored a distinctive bridge design. The bridges flair out like the wings of a mythical or fantastic bird. Hence, I have nicknamed the creator of these cufflinks the "Winged Bridge Maker". Several more examples follow.

"Radiating Starbursts", circa 1925.

Striking two-tone cufflinks with yellow gold centers decorated with dramatic radiating starbursts. The Art Deco supernovas are surrounded by white gold borders embellished with stylized flowers and scrolls. Crafted in 14kt white and yellow gold, circa 1925.

"Ripples in a Pond", circa 1925.

This pair of cufflinks is more serene with yellow gold centers of engine-turned concentric circles. The design is reminiscent of the ripples created by a pebble dropped in a quiet pond. The octagonal white gold borders repeat the flower-and-scroll motif of the previous cufflinks. Crafted in 14kt white and yellow gold, circa 1925.

"Frosty Elegance", circa 1930.

Of course, not all of the the cufflinks by the Winged Bridge maker were two-toned. Pictured is a frosty pair of white gold cufflinks with elegant pinstripe centers. The octagonal borders are a bolder interpretation of the flowers and scrolls theme. Crafted in 14kt white gold, circa 1930.

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

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Elegant Ovals

During the early decades of the last century, jewelry makers created elegant oval cufflinks in gold and platinum. Eschewing the more intricate designs of the period, the oval cufflinks often featured simple concentric patterns, subtle engine turning and dramatic pinstripes. These cufflinks are the epitome of understated elegance. Here are a few examples.

14kt gold cufflinks possibly by R. Blackinton & C0., circa 1920.

The striking centers of these gold cufflinks may give rise to a slight feeling of vertigo. Surrounding the repeated ovals are borders of undulating scrolls and, for an added dash of elegance, milgrained edges. Concentric ovals, perhaps influenced by the simple geometric shapes of the Arts and Crafts movement, were a common motif during the early 1900s.

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

Durand & Company created elegant two-tone cufflinks in platinum and gold. Here yellow gold centers shimmer with richly engine-turned chevron patterns. The centers are framed by engraved platinum bands and yellow gold edges with flowing wave motifs. Durand & Company was one of the preeminent makers of fine cufflinks and jewelry during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The founders of the firm shared an artistic heritage with the American landscape painter Asher B. Durand.

J.R. Wood & Sons 14kt gold "pinstripe" cufflinks, circa 1940.

Classic cufflinks with golden pinstripes surrounded by boldly engraved borders. The pinstripe motif grew in popularity as taste moved to the simpler, linear designs of the late Art Deco period. These cufflinks were crafted in 14kt gold by J.R. Wood & Sons. Founded in Brooklyn, NY in 1850, Wood & Sons created fine cufflinks and jewels for over a century before being acquired by Lenox, Inc. in 1970.

To view other beautiful oval cufflinks from the early 1900s,
please visit our Antique Cufflink Gallery.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Carrington & Co. sunray cufflinks, circa 1940.

The Weakest Link?

When you begin to scrutinize the backs of antique cufflinks as closely as you admire the fronts, you have undeniably caught the cufflink bug. In your defense, a close examination of the reverse of a cufflink is an important step in assessing condition and wear. Always remember, a cufflink is only as strong as the weakest link.

In this note I feature a striking pair of Carrington sunray cufflinks in the style moderne of the late Art Deco period. The original owner loved and cherished these cufflinks. They are in beautiful condition with nary a scratch or ding across the top or along the edges.

Reverse of Carrington starburst cufflinks, circa 1940.

When we turn the cufflinks over we can see just how much the owner loved them. From the wear on the cross bars and brackets, it is evident that these cufflinks were worn frequently, if not every day. Otherwise the backs are as pristine as the fronts. These cufflinks were much loved, well cared for and frequently worn.

End of the cross bars worn thin.

When checking for wear on antique cufflinks focus on the areas where the metal parts of the linkage rub against each other. For double-sided cufflinks with a cross bar linkage, the greatest wear is usually found at the ends of the cross bars.

Wear on the link rings.

You should also look for wear on the link rings that connect the cross bars to the brackets. If the cufflinks were worn frequently the wear can be considerable. In some cases, the once round link rings may have been stretched to an ovoid shape.

Wear at the apex of the bracket.

A third area of possible wear is the apex of the bracket. When the cufflinks are on the cuff the link ring rests in the apex. Movements of the cuff can cause the two parts to abrade against each other and over time weaken the bracket.

When considering the purchase of antique and even new cufflinks, it is wise to carefully examine the backs of the cufflinks with a jeweler's loupe or magnifying glass. Focus particularly on the working parts of the linkage. With a little precaution you can avoid the tragedy of the weakest link becoming a missing link.

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

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Acanthus Bridge Maker cufflinks, circa 1925.

The "Acanthus Bridge" Maker

A cursory review of Dorothy Rainwater's wonderful book, American Jewelry Manufacturers, suggests that American jewelry makers numbered in the hundreds, if not the thousands, during the early decades of the last century. Some of these firms were large enterprises, many were small workshops. When you include the jewelry and cufflink makers of Great Britain, continental Europe and the rest of the world, it is little wonder that identifying the maker of a pair of cufflinks can sometimes be a challenge.

This week, I illustrate several pairs of cufflinks from an unidentified maker. Each of the cufflinks features distinctive bridges (cross bars) decorated with stylized acanthus leaves. Hence the unknown creator of these cufflinks has been nicknamed "The Acanthus Bridge Maker."

Crafted in 14kt white and yellow gold, the cufflinks share common design elements in addition to the unique bridges. From the style of the cufflinks and use of white gold, they appear to have been created during the 1920s. Each pair weighs about 6 grams and is exceedingly well crafted.

"Acanthus Bridge" gold and diamond cufflinks, circa 1925.

The cufflinks are sometimes set with small diamonds on one face. The above two-tone pair features engine-turned white gold centers surrounded by a yellow gold inner border. The string swag motif of the yellow gold border is repeated in the yellow gold and diamond cufflinks pictured at the top of this note. The white gold outer edges are nicely milgrained.

"Acanthus Bridge" white gold cufflinks.

This pair of frosty white gold cufflinks features radiant star bursts surrounded by concentric circles. Note the floral and geometric border. This border design is also found in the cufflinks featured at the top of this note. The backs of these cufflinks, like the other two pairs, are crafted in 14kt yellow gold.

Other than the distinctive acanthus decorated bridges, there appears to be no maker's mark or signature. The maker of these beautiful cufflinks remains a mystery.

Note - Dorothy Rainwater's American Jewelry Manufacturers is an invaluable resource for identifying maker's marks. The Chicago Silver website also offers a helpful on-line reference for silver and jewelry marks (

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

Saturday, June 7, 2008

George Street Celtic Revival cufflinks, circa 1900.

The Celtic Revival

In the late 1800s there was a renewed interest in the arts and ornament of ancient Ireland. Jewelry makers and designers of the era adopted the intertwining, flowing lines of Celtic design. These finely crafted gold cufflinks are a wonderful example.

Celtic Revival cufflinks, circa 1900.

Beautifully crafted in 14kt gold, the cufflinks were created by George Street & Sons, jewelry makers based in New York. George Street & Sons specialized in richly crafted gentleman's jewelry, including cufflinks, watch fobs and signet rings. The firm was particularly adept at using the sculptural qualities of fine gold to create flowing, richly detailed jewels.

Celtic Revival gold and citrine brooch, circa 1875.

Interest in the arts and ornament of ancient Ireland initially arose in the mid 1800s with the work of Irish antiquarian/artist George Petrie and the discovery of the Royal Tara brooch in 1850. Unfortunately, this initial wave of the Celtic Revival was submerged by the tsunami of Revival styles (Greek, Etruscan Egyptian, Renaissance, etc...) embraced by the mid Victorians.

In the late 1890s, Archibald Knox reignited the fervor for Celtic design. Working as a designer with Liberty and Co., Knox created the popular Cymric and Tudric lines decorated with sinuous, interlaced curves. The George Street cufflinks illustrated in this note are an example of this second wave of the Celtic Revival.

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.