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Cufflinks, a graceful style statement 

Cufflinks, a graceful style statement 

Cufflinks by VITALE 1913
Cufflinks by VITALE 1913

People often argue that cufflinks are not practical,  easy-to-loose items, compared to the traditional buttons that are fixed on the shirt. However, cufflinks are not made for practicality but to make a statement in the polished men’s wardrobe as they can add value to their social standing. If we take a look at the most expensive cufflinks in the world, it is easy to understand this powerful fashion accessory which has a vast history rooting back to the 17th century.

Men have been wearing shirt-like items of clothing since the invention of woven fabric 5,000 years BC, however, the first cufflinks appeared only back in the 1600s. Even so, it took a century for it to become more common.

Cufflinks are closely related to men’s shirts used to secure the cuffs, and although  fashion styles have  changed and evolved over time, the underlying functionality of the cufflink has remained the same. Securing of the cufflinks is usually achieved via toggles or reverses based on the design of the front section, which can be folded into position.

Before the 17th century, cuffs were typically held together with ribbons. The use of decorative elements on shirts already started in the Middle Ages on visible areas such as the neck, wrist, and chest. It was the evolution to implement customisation and personal touch on the buttons area as well that gave birth to cufflinks. 

Cufflinks can be manufactured from a variety of different materials. Their front sections can be decorated with gemstones, inlays, glass, stone, leather, enamel, or the endless combinations of these. Due to their two or three-dimensional forms, cufflinks can be fully custom-tailored to one’s taste.

One of the first royalty who was often credited as being the driving force behind the evolution of cufflinks was the Sun King himself, Louis the Great (Louis XIV). It is rumoured that his diamond cufflinks collection exceeds 150 pieces, however, his style was mimicked by members of the French royal court and aristocracies across Europe.

By the middle of the 19th century, modern cufflinks became popular among the bourgeois and aristocracy. Thanks to the industrial revolution, cufflinks were so loved to be worn  by the middle and upper classes that they became available in every price category. It was also the time when the first coloured cufflinks appeared. They were made from gemstones for men with great deal of self-confidence.

Unlike Louis XIV, the Prince of Wales, Edward VII played a highly significant part in the popularisation of jewellery-like cufflinks. He famously wore many colourful Fabergé cufflinks opening up a new area for fashion accessories. In the 19th century, cufflinks became one of the few acceptable items of jewellery for men.

In the 1900s, the revolution and the developments of cufflinks continued with more cufflinks worn than ever before. There was nothing to stop the creative imagination. Different types and forms appeared incorporating gem and semi-precious stones, and even glass. Cufflinks came in a great variety of colours and every conceivable geometric pattern.

French fashion designer and businesswoman, Coco Chanel had a great role in making fashion jewellery acceptable to wear. The Chanel house produces some of the most elegant cufflinks for men still to date.

Those who could not afford a highly-priced French-made cufflink,  turned their attention to Germany. Cufflinks by Idar-Oberstein were produced using simple materials for the more modest budget, and Pforzheim jewellery manufacturers produced for the medium and upper segments using genuine gold and silver.

Cufflinks are designed only for use with shirts that have cuffs. Modern cufflinks typically have a larger, decorative face and a small end, with a variety of designs that can connect. While the base of the majority of cufflinks is various metals such as gold or silver, by the 20th century the knotted coloured silk became popular too. The Paris shirtmaker Charvet is credited with its introduction in 1904.

There are numerous style variations available, including novelty, traditional, contemporary, monogrammed, or decorated. Typically individualised cufflinks use a birthstone or something which reflects a hobby or a family cypher.

Jacob & Co - Jacob’s Web Cufflinks
Jacob’s Web Collection Cufflinks with 1.80 carats of Pave Set White Diamonds. In 18K White Gold. Retail price: $9,300 / Photo: Jacob & Co.

In the 1960s, Cartier introduced the interchangeable cufflinks, another milestone in the evolvement of cufflink fashion. It  consists of a bar with a loop at either end that would allow a motif to be inserted at either end perpendicular to the bar which was referred to by Cartier as batons. Cartier introduced a whole set of new materials in sets;  the bars would come also with batons made from coral, malachite, carnelian, lapis lazuli, rock crystal, onyx, and tiger’s eye.

As its popularity is growing, cufflinks can be worn with casual wear, informal attire, or business suits. Clothing is all about style, showing a man’s vision of life and self-preservation. Traditionally, the rule is that gold is to be worn during the daytime and silver for evening wear. It is also important to match the cufflink with the metal of the watch case, belt buckle or tie bar.

Of course, we cannot mention this essential style without looking at the most expensive cufflinks in the world. 

The leader of the most expensive cufflink manufacturers is the house of Jacob & Co.  and its Canary Diamond cufflinks, with a staggering  price of $4.2 million  per pair. The world’s most expensive cufflinks consist of 21.29 carats of emerald-cut canary yellow diamonds, surrounded by 10.76 carats of additional baguette-cut white diamonds hosted in an 18-carat white gold body. Nothing comes even closer to this masterpiece that exudes elegance.

Jacob & Co. Canary and diamond cufflinks
Platinum and 18k White Gold Masterpiece Cufflinks. Center Diamonds are GIA Certified 21.39ct and 20.03ct Fancy Yellow Radiant Cut Diamonds. Bezel Set and Surrounded By Special White Baguette Cut Diamonds Totaling to 7.52ct (28 Stones). Wingbacks are in 18k White Gold and Invisible Set With 10 Princess Cut Diamonds 0.94ct and 12 Baguette Cut Diamonds 2.30ct. / Photo: Jacob & Co.

Another Jacob & Co. Masterpiece is the Diamond Art Deco Cufflinks. This $601,428 a pair heritage piece cufflink has two huge white 6.05 carats and 5.90 carats diamonds, encircled by smaller baguette diamonds of a total of 4.52 carts.

In the third place of the most expensive cufflinks, we can find the diamond and sapphire studded cufflink with the legendary royal love story of King Edwards VIII and Wallis Simpson. This $400,000 cufflink by Cartier is a masterpiece of designing symmetry, one of the finest cufflinks present in public life. Currently, the “Hold Tight Cartier Cufflink of King Edward VIII” cufflink is in the possession of Syrian billionaire Wafic Said.

Jacob & Co - Hourglass cufflinks
Hour Glass Cufflinks with 3.73ct Pave Set White Diamonds Around and Floating in the Cylinder. In 18K Rose Gold. Retail price: $20,000 / Photo: Jacob & Co.

The most expensive cufflinks  often come from the house of Jacob & Co. Their list includes the head-turner 22.73-carat Double Diamond Basketball Cufflinks which comes with a price tag of $162,000 a pair. Or the Baguette Diamond Pentagon Cufflinks with its stunning craftsmanship, offering the perfect symmetry of a total of 10-carat diamonds embedded in the pentagon frame of 18 carats white gold for $114,000 a pair.

The house of Jacob & Co. also considers  individuality, matching one’s personality and profession. A great example of  this is  the Football Cufflinks, an 18-carat yellow gold-trimmed and football-shaped 15-carat diamonds masterpiece for $96,000 a pair.

Jacob & Co - Roulette cufflinks
Pair of Rose Gold Spinning Green and Red Enamel Roulette Wheel Cufflinks with 2.23 carats of Pave Set Diamonds on the Bezel and Sides. In 18K Rose gold. Retail price: $19,800 / Photo: Jacob & Co.

One can make a strong fashion statement using almost any of the cufflinks of fashion houses such as the house of Jacob & Co., Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Chanel, Givenchy, or Arfaq Hussain.

While some of them come with a bold, royal price tag, there are also some more reasonable pieces. One of the best in fine design categories is the V2 Cufflinks by Arfaq Hussain with a price tag of $39,000 a pair. This pair of cufflinks were part of Pop legend Michael Jackson’s pseudo-military outfit, and it is one of the most popular cufflinks ever designed. It  features a double sword base topped with a golden crown embedded with sapphires and diamonds in 18-carat white and yellow gold. Michael Jackson purchased them in Bucharest, Romania, in November 1996 and wore his 2 Cufflinks during the HIStory World Tour.

Jacob & Co - Full Baguette Cufflinks
Full Baguette Brilliant Gold Collection Cufflinks with 12.22 carats of Invisible Set Baguette Cut Light Blue Sapphires and 5.06ct Blue Sapphires. In Platinum. Retail price: $85,200 / Photo: Jacob & Co.