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mod MCM face vintage cuff links for sale | minusOne jewelry

Vintage Cuff Links: Styles for Women & Men

Jun 5, 2024 | meaningful jewelry + gift guides

I got a hitch in my giddy-up for vintage cuff links – the most compelling, ambiguous bling. Cuff links — and the punk cuffs that carry them — add whimsy to the manliest rogue, and a touch of mano a mano to the pinkest princess

Shop cufflinks at minusOne jewelry on Etsy.

Cuff links and cuff fashion

Shooting your cuffs. The gesture – tied to a bygone fashion – implies braggadocio.

1130 or later Dalmatic sleeves, Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna
Palermo, Royal workshop, between 1130 and 1154
Purple silk with trimmings in red silk, embroidered in gold, gold filigree, enamel, and pearls; H overall 141 cm
Palermo, Royal workshop, between 1130 and 1154

Cuff fashion moved from ornate, gilded embroidery (as early as the 1300s) to mid century mod, when swanky cuff links ruled the wrist.

Gemstones, novelty figures, sports, brands, and monograms.

Shooting one’s cuffs was synonymous with swagger for several hundred years. 

Elaborate cuffs was a show of rank and flair, style and cocksure.

Then…poof! 

Cuff links were out of fashion, and shooting your cuffs became a lost art.

Mid Century Cuff Link Brands

The 1950s saw the emergence of several popular and prolific cuff link designers:

  • Hickok
  • Swank
  • Foster
  • Kremenz
  • Anson
  • Forstner
  • Hadley
  • Dolan & Bullock
  • BA Ballou & Co
  • Jacob M Oldak

Read more about 1950s mid century costume jewelry.

During the depression, cuff links – like all jewelry – took a back seat to more pressing issues.

But in the late 1940s, cuff links returned with a vengeance.

How to date vintage cuff links

Cuff links are fairly easy to date relative to other types of jewelry, because the engineering of the fastener, or “action,” changed over time.

In addition, once cuff links were mass produced and marketed, patent registrations were filed in an attempt to corner a market and reduce competition.

Cuff links were often manufactured with the patent numbers stamped right on the toggle – also called the action of the cuff link.

This example of an action registered by Edward L. Gay, Jr, is for patent 3,208,313, and so dates this pair of cuff links to around 1965.

Screenshot

This example of an action registered by Edward L. Gay, Jr, is for patent 3,208,313, and so dates this pair of cuff links to around 1965.


If anyone wants to let me know what brand this “S” hallmark represents, please contact me!

Variations of the toggle style cuff link action were patented as early as the 1940s by several different companies, each with their own twist on the theme.

This awesome video lecture from The Tie Chest gives a great history, including all the varieties of toggle clasps.

One of the most interesting notes from this lecture, especially for SWANK cuff link fans, is that advertisements show two different varietals of SWANK toggle clasps: square and rounded.

SWANK cuff links with square toggles were made until 1954, but after 1955, the toggle clasps were rounded.

Vintage cuff links for sale at minusOne

Vintage cuff links will always be en vogue and for sale at minusOne jewelry.

The perfect unisex jewelry. Wear the shirt alone or with a blazer or vest. Cuff links and a French cuff shirt will dress up the most faded jeans.

Because I wear cuff links myself, I’m always on the look out for structurally interesting designs, designs that have bold colors, and statement pieces.

Like these B.S. cuff links (B on one link and S on the other), which actually do make a statement.

Because vintage cuff links are an affordable accessory – usually between $10 and $40 a pair – I rarely wear the same pair twice.

Some of them make such a statement that it would be like wearing the same ball gown two years in a row to the Oscars.

These goldtone mesh (also made in silvertone) are often referred to as “wrap-around” cuff links. I’ve also found them called “fold-over” cuff links.

Mesh wrap-around cuff links were popular during the late 1960s into the 1970s, and often came with a matching parure: including the pair of cuff links, a tie pin, collar pin, and even a stud.

Vintage cuff links make the best gifts. The sheer variety of cuff links made in the 30-year period when they reigned means that the perfect pair is out there for everyone.

This pair of Asian-inspired dragon monster damascene cuff links from the late 40s are for your fantasy-loving Godzilla fanatic.

Here’s a pair for a GenX sibling who whiled away hours with you in your basement den playing Connect Four.

A pair for your favorite Texan…

And as if the world needed another golf-themed gift, here’s a pair shaped like drivers.


The best French cuff shirt for women and men

I had trouble finding shirts that would fit a woman with French cuffs – cuffs made for cuff links. So I ended up buying this one on Amazon for $25 in white and in black.


Have a favorite pair of cuff links? Send me a pic! I’d love to see them.

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Shop your Style. Stay and buy yourself something nice. 

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