The History of Cufflinks Revealed

Fashion forward royals and the Industrial Revolution paved the way for cufflinks to become the must-have piece of jewelry for men. It was, however, fashion that originally brought about a need for cufflinks.

The origins of cufflinks can be traced back to the early 1500’s when elaborate, ruffle cuffed shirts became the height of fashion. The cuffs were tied together with a piece of string. This simple style continued into the 1700s when “sleeve buttons”, ornate gold or silver linked chains attached to glass, were created.  It’s no surprise that glass was soon replaced by gemstones.

A symbol of wealth and status, these early cufflinks were difficult to craft and very expensive so they were only worn by royals and nobles. Cufflinks were generally commissioned and worn for important royal events.

When the Industrial Revolution started in the late 1700’s, technological changes to manufacturing made it much easier to make cufflinks. The biggest change was that the chain link was replaced with a rod and clip attaching mechanism.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed into the 1800s new jobs and wealth were created resulting in a rising middle class. Men adopted a new “uniform” that included dress shirts with highly starched collars and cuffs. The heavily starched cuffs became too stiff  to close with a button making cufflinks a necessity.

Cufflinks also got a boost in popularity from author Alexandre Dumas, who in 1844, had two novels published: “ The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”. There were characters in both stories who wore opulent cufflinks that Dumas described  in great detail.

In 1882,  German jeweler George Krementz, devised a machine that made it possible to mass produce cufflinks at an affordable price point making them available to everybody. Less expensive materials were also used to make cufflinks more accessible. Rhinestones substituted for diamonds, steel marcasite was a stand in for silver and pinchbeck, a form of brass, replaced  gold.

Throughout the first half of the twentieth century men wore cufflinks as part of their daily business attire, but in the 1960s  and 1970s, dressing down became the style which led to cufflinks falling out of favor. Then came the go-go 1980s and cufflinks were back in vogue with the Wall Street crowd suited up and accessorizing. Today, cufflinks remain an essential part of a well-dressed man’s wardrobe even as clothing styles are changing rapidly.

 

Men’s fashion for Spring 2021 has shifted in unexpected ways as the world around us and life as we know it continues to undergo unprecedented changes. Inclusivity and genderless dressing are becoming more prevalent on the runways and fashion forward men’s styles are a welcome canvas for cufflinks to be worn in a more modern way.

One of the top men’s trends for Spring 2021 is minimalism. This style is generally defined by black and white and pared down details. Simple cufflinks such as the black and white diamond Yin and Yang symbols are a subtle accent. The Adam & Eve snakes expertly rendered in black and white diamonds with a ruby apple, are another good choice.

The playfulness of the oversized slouchy suits and voluminous pants found on the spring runways will be anchored by cufflinks. Try the witty diamond and ruby Lady Bird cufflinks, or the yellow diamond Imperial Dragon cufflinks for a touch of fun.

As thoughts turn to the longer days of summer and outdoor activities, shorts become a central part of a warm weather wardrobe. This season shorts have taken on voluminous proportions, with an almost skirt-like feeling. Wearing these shorts with a button-down shirt to have coffee at an outdoor café calls for nature-themed cufflinks such as the gold and diamond accented Knock on Wood from the Life is Beautiful collection.

Regardless of whether your look is classic and traditional or trendy and contemporary, cufflinks add the finishing touch that elevates your personal style in a thoroughly modern way.