I recently sold a pair of button cufflinks and became curious about the history of cufflinks and some to the various styles that I’ve seen over the years. So here’s a bit on history and a gallery of styles of the backs of cufflinks.
- Early 1600s–Towards the end of the Renaissance period, primitive cuff links are rare and used for holding a shirt cuff together as an alternative to ribbon or lace. The links are simple; a small chain fastened to the end of a metal button.
- Mid-1600s: King Louis XIV, is seen dressed in shirts sleeves secured together with buttons. Often these buttons are made of metal and sometimes glass that is connected by a small chain.
- 1840s: Shirts with French cuffs are popularized, demanding the need for more sophisticated cuff links.
- 1920s: Jewelers of the roaring twenties invent the “t-post” with a “flip hinge,” creating a modern fashion innovation while further populating the functionality of the cuff link
- 1930s-1950s: In an effort to conserve resources throughout the Great Depression and WWII, general manufacturers like Swank, Anson and Hickok produce millions of cuff links in customary styles, making them available to a range of men regardless of social status.
- 1950s: A necessary accessory among business men and politicians, cuff links are seen throughout movies and TV.
- 1960s: Cuff links soar in popularity. Double-sided cuff links become the “norm” as wearing cuff links that clip on one side suggests an individual could only afford the decorative design on the outside.
- 1970s: The functionality of shirt buttons surpasses cuff links in popularity of men’s fashion. Cuff links as a fashion trend are somewhat forgotten for a short time.
- 1990s: Men begin returning to the cuff link as a true form of jewelry art. The cuff link is often seen at business meetings, social gatherings and black tie affairs. Women also begin to popularize the cuff link supporting creative designs in women’s fashion.
Jake Woolley, Lead Copywriter, Marketing Content Development Group, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®