Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cufflinks - On Your Marks

Carrington & Co. Sapphire and Gold Cufflinks

Carrington & Co. Sapphire and Gold Cufflinks, circa 1930

Antique cufflinks are bright bits of history. They capture the style and elegance of a past time and bring them into the present. By closely examining the design and craftsmanship of a pair of antique cufflinks you can often estimate their age and identify the maker.

It is worthwhile to examine the backs of the cufflinks as closely as the fronts. On the backs, you will often find a wealth of clues about who, where and when the cufflinks were made. You may even discover who first wore the cufflinks and the special occasion on which they were given. To help you unravel these clues, I illustrate the maker's marks of three prominent American cufflink makers.

Carrington & Company

A more detailed discussion of the Carrington maker and precious metal marks can be found at Carrington Cufflinks and Mr. Goldsplat, the Mysterious Jeweler

Founded in 1900 by Charles Carrington, Carrington & Co. created elegant gold and platinum cufflinks and dress sets for five decades. The firm was also renowned for elegant cigarette and vanity cases, lockets and other jewels. Carrington cufflinks and accessories were retailed by many of the finest jewelers of the day including Tiffany & Co and Cartier.

The maker’s mark for Carrington & Company is an angular “C” surrounding a “14” or “18”, the gold purity mark. Platinum cufflinks may be simply marked "PLATINUM".

Carter, Gough & Co.

Originally founded by Aaron Carter in the 1840s, the firm evolved through numerous partnerships and name changes to become Carter, Gough & Co. in 1915. The firm's cufflinks ranged from heavier, gem set jewels during the Victorian era, to intricately engraved gold and platinum links during the 1910s and 20s. Carter, Gough did not survive the economic exigencies of the Great Depression and closed in the early 1930s.

The Carter, Gough maker's mark is an arrowhead surrounding the letter "C". The arrowhead is sometimes misidentified as a spade or carrot. The maker's mark is often preceded by the precious metal marks "14K" and "PLAT".

Krementz & Company

Krementz & Comapny was founded by George Krementz in 1866. In the 150 years since the firm’s founding, the Krementz family has been involved in almost every aspect of jewelry design and manufacturing. In an earlier post I illustrated several Krementz cufflinks in the Art Nouveau style. In the 1920s, the firm was a prolific maker of elegant and distinctive dress sets. Given the longevity and creativity of the firm, it is not an overstatement to speak of the Krementz family as the Bachs of the American jewelry industry.

The maker's mark for Krementz & Co. has been described as a "moustache" and, my favorite, an "upside down two-handle umbrella." In fact, the mark is the profile of a single-piece collar button George Krementz invented in the 1880s. The maker's mark is usually preceded by a precious metal mark (here "14K").

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