About six months ago I started a project with bespoke jeweller Diana Maynard to design a suitable pair of cufflinks.
There are startlingly few cufflinks on the market that are both attractive and functional. In my view, most fall down because:
1. They do not have significant decoration on both sides of the link
2. Those that do are too long in the bar or chain that joins them
3. Those without the cheap, rotating bar design are difficult to push through the cuffs
4. Few designs are attractive, yet simple and conservative enough to wear with tailoring
All cufflinks should have something on both sides of the link. They always did and it is pure cheapness not to today. The inside is seen almost as much as the outside, and a cheap steel bar is not decoration.
Cufflinks that have decoration on both sides are normally some form of insignia or stone, joined with a bar or more commonly a chain. This is difficult to get through the cuff but, more importantly, it is also much longer than, say, a silk knot.
Silk knots are increasingly worn because they are cheap, readily available and a nice way to add a touch of colour. But they grip the cuff tightly, and as I wrote about in my series on bespoke shirts at Turnbull & Asser, the difference in cuff size between one joined with a silk knot and one with a chain link is up to 5/8 of an inch. For anyone that has bespoke shirts made, that’s a lot. It undermines having cuffs made to fit.
The added problem is that loose links sit further outside the cuff and ‘clink’ on the desk as you type. This can never be entirely removed (and is less of a problem if you wear a jacket) but is considerably more irritating when the link is loose.
Finally, the decorations leave a lot to be desired. Why a man would wear humorous cuff links is beyond me; brand logos are little better; crests are fine but not exactly exciting. Some brands do nice models in lapis lazuli or mother of pearl (Links of London is one example), but they fall down on points 2 and 3. Because these stones are so common on the market, we deliberately avoided them in our links.
So what have we come up with?
The first thing was the link that joins the two sides. We fashioned several options out of silver wire, trying out each until we found the perfect length – not too short, but gripping both sides of the cuff effectively and sitting neatly in them. We also experimented with the curvature, before designing two styles – one round in cross-section, one square, both gently tapered.
We wanted the stones on each side to be identical. But they had to be as big as possible while remaining easy to punch through the cuff. After several iterations, we settled on 10mm, with most of the stones being spherical.
Finally, the stones themselves. Most would be for daywear, so they had to be plain, probably matte and with most interest in the texture. One pair would be for evening, which would again be a dark stone but faceted to give it sparkle.
Pearls are perfect. Whether white or grey, they are simple and sophisticated, looking particularly good on white shirts. I’ve always loved amber, so we added that, making sure it was dark and messy enough to give some textural interest. Labradorite is a great, dark stone with a shimmer in the sliced section you can see only at certain angles. Smoky quartz for a dark option (these will be in limited supply) and amethyst for evening.
At this point it should be said that these cufflinks are all going to be made to order, made by Diana and sold through her website. I stand to make no money from them. I just wanted to design what I thought the perfect cufflink.
The links that connect the two sides have been moulded and will be individually cast. The stones are each then set individually by hand, as you would do with bespoke jewellery – the silver is shaped by hand around the stone. They are then polished and finished by hand also.
As they are made to order, you can select different stone combinations. But the settings have to remain the same, so pearls with pearls, round settings (cabochons) with round settings. I will wear identical pairs. If there is interest, we will offer a greater range of stones soon.
The pearls all cost £220, other day stones £289 and the amethyst £430. The differences in price represent the cost of the stones and, to a lesser extent, the difficulty of mounting.
These will be limited edition cufflinks, individually designed and made that look better and perform better than anything else on the market in our opinion. We hope you like them.
Some technical details:
- The pearls are cultured freshwater pearls, in white, grey and peacock.
- The labradorite is available in two hues, green and blue.
- The smoky quartz is made with one end faceted underneath, creating a very subtle texture. These are limited to four pairs.
- All other stones are limited to 100 pairs of cufflinks. Each comes with a numbered valuation.
- The silver stems are all circular in cross-section except the amethyst, which is square.
- The silver is all hallmarked at London assay office. It’s tiny!
- The silver is polished and rhodium-plated to prevent tarnishing
- Postage is included in the price and turnaround time for an ordered pair is 4 weeks. Allow 2 weeks for postage to the US due to current Homeland Security restrictions. Express delivery to the US is available for £48 through DHL. This takes 2-4 days.
- Payment and ordering is done through Diana’s website, in the ‘For Sale’ section: www.dianamaynard.com/limited-edition/cufflinks
- Click on the images to get bigger versions.