Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Art Deco - Cufflink Complications

Frank Krementz Art Deco cufflinks, circa 1925.

Art Deco - Cufflink

Among collectors of fine timepieces, watches with intricate mechanisms and a plethora of features are known as "complications." The term is also aptly applied to a group of richly detailed cufflinks created during the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s.

Frank Krementz cufflinks, circa 1925.

One school of Art Deco design fervently believed that no visible surface should be left unadorned. The more decoration and embellishment, the better. Applying this design dictum to the small area of a cufflink resulted in mesmerizing cuff jewels.

A master of this style was the cufflink maker Frank Krementz. The firm was adept at combining intricate geometric patterns with stylized floral elements to create striking cufflinks with an incredible, almost obsessive, level of detail. The two cufflinks pictured above are beautiful examples.

L. Fritschze labyrinthine cufflinks, circa 1925.

A contemporary, but less prolific, cufflink maker was L. Fritschze and Company. Based in Newark, New Jersey (as were Krementz and Ziething), the firm specialized in cufflinks with dramatic geometric patterns. One's eye (and imagination) is inescapably drawn into the intricate, labyrinth-like designs. The cufflink pictured above is a striking example.

I have to confess a particular fondness for the Fritschze cufflinks. A fondness that only increases with their relative rarity.

Fritschze marquise and diamond cufflinks, circa 1925.

Art Deco "complications" were usually crafted in white gold or a combination of white over yellow gold. Commercially introduced around 1918, white gold is relatively hard compared to platinum and silver and crisply holds detailed, engraved designs. White gold also tarnishes slightly over time, throwing the intricately engraved patterns into high relief.

Ziething octagonal bull's eye cufflinks, circa 1925.

No discussion of intricate Jazz Age cufflinks would be complete without a few sparkling examples from Ziething & Company. The shimmering, abstract designs adorning Ziething cufflinks were created with a technique reminiscent of bright-cut engraving. As a result, the lively, sparkling designs appear to radiate and dance as they catch the light.

Jazzy Ziething cufflinks, circa 1925.

Some of Ziething & Company's finest work are striking two-tone cufflinks. In these the brightness of richly engraved white gold borders contrasts with the warmth of equally intricate yellow gold centers. Pictured above are two beautiful examples.

A final example of the intricate cufflinks of the Art Deco era. Crafted in white gold these cufflinks feature dramatic floral and cruciform centers above a field of concentric circles. The canted-corners are embellished with acanthus leaves (or possibly flaming scrolls) with elongated Greek key designs along the edges in between. One side is set with a small diamond. An awful lot of decoration for a very small piece of real estate!

These and other fine antique cufflinks can be found
in the Antique Cufflink Gallery.

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