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.