Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Joy of Antique Cufflinks

The Joy of Antique Cufflinks

Carrington engraved MOP dress set, circa 1925.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the best of the Holidays and
is looking forward to an even better New Year!

In earlier notes I have written about the artistry, craftsmanship and history of antique cufflinks. One other factor contributes to the inescapable joy created by cufflinks from the past - the great variety of designs and styles in which they were created.

The years from 1880 to 1950 were a period of ceaseless and dramatic change in jewelry design and the decorative arts in general. Infuences included the historical revivals and countering Aesthetic Movement of the Victorian era, the flowing, otherworldly Art Nouveau and ethereal, sparkling Edwardian jewels of the early 1900s, and the bold, colorful designs of early Art Deco followed by the starker Art Moderne of the 1930s and 1940s. Each of these design movements was reflected in the cufflinks of the day.

Carrington vest button, circa 1925.

In addition to the plethora of design influences, there were numerous cufflink makers each interpreting and playing off the broader design themes in their own unique and imaginative ways. It is estimated that in the United States alone the number of jewelry makers numbered at least several hundred during the early 1900s. No doubt a significant number of these makers created cufflinks at one time of another. It is little wonder that antique cufflinks offer something to suit almost every taste.

For me the great diversity of cufflinks means that, even after working with antique jewelry for several decades, I still enjoy the thrill of coming across beautiful designs I have never seen before. This past year one of my favorite "discoveries" was the wonderful Carrington dress set illustrated through out this note.

Carrington engraved MOP shirt studs, circa 1925.

During the first half of the 20th century Carrington & Company was known for elegantly designed cufflinks and dress sets. The firm's cufflinks often exhibited a formal, if not conservative, simplicity that highlighted the fineness of the precious materials and the beauty of the craftsmanship.

The Carrington dress set highlighted here features mother-of-pearl centers beautifully engraved with a pattern reminiscent of exploding fireworks. Borders of swirling scrolls crafted in white gold bring to mind a starry night sky. And in the centers luminous pearls are is set in a collets with a finely millegrained edge. To me this dress set is the perfect marriage of elegant formality and Jazz Age pizazz.

Carrington and Jazz Age Pizazz, circa 1925.

The celebratory and joyful exuberance of this dress set captures the spirit of the Holiday season and our hopes for the New Year. Fittingly it was acquired during the Christmas season by a couple celebrating an important anniversary.

The above dress set and other fine antique cufflinks
can be found in the Antique Cufflink Gallery.

No comments: