In 1946 Fred Astaire performed Irving Berlin's classic tune "Puttin' on the Ritz" in the movie "Blue Skies." The performance beautifully captured the elegant fashion sense of the times and was an instant hit. Who can resist singing along to:
Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper
This enthusiastic sense of style is reflected in the elegant dress sets and cufflinks of the period.
The Carrington black-and-white dress set pictured above is a good example. It radiates sophisticated elegance. The black Onyx tops are set with small white Pearls and surrounded by richly engraved platinum borders. Created around 1925, the set was originally purchased at Tiffany's.
Carrington & Company was a maker of beautiful cufflinks, dress sets and other fine jewels during the first half of the 20th century. These white-on-white cufflinks feature Mother-of-Pearl centered with a small white Pearl. The platinum borders are embellished with a repeated geometric pattern in the Art Deco style. Another example of Carrington's elegant, sophisticated designs. The cufflinks were sold en suite with a matching set of shirt studs.
This pair of Onyx and Pearl cufflinks exemplifies the simple elegance of Art Deco design. With matching shirt studs and vest buttons, the elegant ensemble is perfect for a night at the opera. Crafted in platinum and gold, the dress set was created by L.E. Garrigus & Company around 1930.
During the early 20th century, dress sets often followed the etiquette of black and white tie attire. Black Onyx or creamy white Mother-of-Pearl were often accented with small pearls or diamonds. The preferred precious metals were platinum and yellow gold.
But, dress sets were not just a matter of black and white. The cufflinks above are from a full dress set created by the jewelry firm Carter, Howe & Company in the early 1900s. The set features beautiful Moss Agates set in bright yellow gold. Carter, Howe created arresting dress sets and cufflinks with unusual gemstones, enamel accents and striking designs. While Carrington dress sets exude formal elegance, Carter, Howe dress sets embrace elegance with a little pizazz.
Another example of Carter, Howe design. These cuff links and matching shirt studs (see photograph below) feature Mother-of-Pearl centers and dramatic borders of white enamel and yellow gold. Carter, Howe and the successor firm Carter, Gough excelled at creating imaginative designs and worked in a multitude of styles that appeal to both the collector and admirer of estate cufflinks and dress sets. What better way to look just like Gary Cooper. Super duper!
To view these and other dress sets from the past,
please visit our Antique Cufflinks Gallery.