When I buy cufflinks, my foremost consideration is aesthetics. Simply put, I am most drawn to their design, appearance and condition. Whether they are made of precious materials (or not) is a secondary (or tertiary) concern. If a handsome pair of cufflinks happens to be made of gold, I'll buy them.
In the very early Twentieth Century, cufflinks were still considered a quotidian and functional accessory. Most men wore cufflinks, at least on occasion. After World War One (and even more after World War Two), cufflinks use dropped precipitously—at which point cufflinks started to be associated with "fancy dress," not everyday male life. However, back in the 1880's through the 1930's, my "sweet spot" for collecting cufflinks, they were still being made for all sorts of men: expensive versions for the posh, affordable (but stylish) versions for the middle class. Thus, when hunting for cufflinks from this period, it is quite possible to find many really nice pairs of cufflinks which were not made of precious metal. Most average men were not buying gold cufflinks to go to work.
The handsome pair of English cufflinks, shown above, are crafted of 9 karat gold. While 9 karats may seem like a low gold content, bear in mind that gold is very soft. The higher the gold content, the more vulnerable the piece of jewelry at the end of a swinging arm. Cuff links are not like earrings. They are not as prominent, not as well-protected, and are subject to much more abuse (fastened to the end of a swinging arm). Over the years, lower gold-content cufflinks often hold-up better than the higher gold-content (more expensive) versions.
This pair was made just after World War II, during the final decade of the Art Deco movement. They bear a British hallmark from Birmingham, 1949. The handsome gold faces are "machine-turned" with a basketweave design—leaving a bold diagonal slash across the front of the link. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248