Friday, October 17, 2008

History of the Cufflink

Believe it or not suits and formal wear have been acquainted with the cufflink for centuries. These accessories have come to know the ins and outs of businessmen and the socially elite.

Cufflinks actually came before the shirt! The National Cufflinks Society found evidence in hieroglyphics in King Tut's tomb of their use. But as an accessory to the shirt, cufflinks began to be used in the 1700s.

Its first placement in writing was in 1788. Men wanted something more decorative than ribbons and buttons. In the beginning all cufflinks were hand-made with gold, silver and inlayed with jewels and stones. These cufflinks were reserved for the wealthy and elite classes in society.

Inventions made during the industrial revolution were able to mass-produce cufflinks and from that point mens jewelry was opened up to people other than the elite of the upper class. Cufflinks became a staple in men's fashion and haven’t missed a beat since.

The French cuff shirt became wildly popular in the 40's. Even the middle class wanted to adopt the use of cufflinks, although their cufflinks weren't made of gold or silver. They would often used foil to simulate the shine of the their more wealthy neighbors.

Before black became the tradition, people used to place a hair of a family member under the glass on a cufflinks as a sign of grief.

It was actually the mass-production of the shotgun shell that enabled the more efficient production of high quantities of cufflinks at higher quality. George Krementz attended the Philadelphia Centennial Expo in 1876 and saw machinery that produced cartridge shells for rifles. It was that machine that created his inspiration for a machine that could produce mens accessories. And with that businessmen were gifting and receiving cufflinks regularly.

In the 1920's Russia forced luxury artists of Faberge to leave Europe. They found home in America and taught their skills to others making the newest material for cufflinks, enamel.

The use of Cufflinks in the 1960s was hugely popular. Swank Inc was making 12 million a year. Gross sales for Swank have increased consistently over the last 10 years and the French cuff shirt is still the most popular shirt among the higher class.

King Edward VIII can be written in the books as the man to first own the most expensive pair of cufflinks. A present from his future wife, this pair was set in platinum, covered in diamonds and later sold at an auction for $440,000.

To the men who wear them cufflinks are more than just a sleeve fastener, they are a form of expression. A little piece of art. New Hampshire is home to the Cufflink Museum, which has more than 70,000 pairs broken down into 140 categories. Individuality that is in style is possible with the use of cufflinks. They have proven to be a source of expression of creativity for men and women in the business world.

To shop cufflinks click here.

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