Hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks - have a guess where they started life

by Angie Mastroyiannis March 23, 2017

Hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks - have a guess where they started life

Let’s have a look at how hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks began.
The first cufflinks showed up in the 1600’s but really cufflinks didn’t become common until towards the end of the 18th century.  They kind of developed alongside changes in shirt fashion.  Folk have been wearing bits of clothing that resembled shirts since woven fabric was invented around 5,000BC.

Styles and the way shirts were put together changed over the next few years, but they all really looked like a tunic with an open front plus sleeves and a collar.  They came about as a way to protect outside clothes from the body and were easy to wash.  An added advantage of that was stopping rough outer clothing from irritating the skin.

You may be asking where is this leading to hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks but be patient we will get there.

Following the middle ages the bits of the shirt that were on show became decorated with frills, ruffs and embroidery. The cuffs were joined with ribbons (no cufflinks yet) and so were collars – you’re right this eventually led to ties being invented!

Picture yourself in a French royal court you would be wearing a shirt with frills hanging down over your wrists.  This would be the uniform for formal occasions, but if you wanted to dress down in those days you would wear an everyday shirt with the cuffs held together with a bit of ribbon (cufflinks would have been much more stylish).  Buttons or connected buttons were sometimes used.

Next came the bourgeois influence, pushing out the former splendor of the aristocracy.  Men then became somewhat dull with a dark suit in the day, dinner jacket or tailcoat in the evening.  How they must have been yearning to spice things up a bit with hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks.

Now we are getting to the cufflinks.  The shirt worn in these times had a shirt front with collar and cuffs made of sturdy material to make it long lasting.  This was good on the practical front but when they were cleaned and starched they were too stiff for a simple button.

So it became the fashion of the middle and upper classes to wear cufflinks.  Which could well have included hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks.  Due to them being so popular they were made in all sorts of shapes and sizes and in a full range of prices.

Cufflinks were then made colourful with gemstones.  Even Faberge made cufflinks.  We are now talking serious fashion for men, in fact cufflinks were one of the few acceptable jewellery items for men to wear in Britain and the U.S.

The market for cufflinks has continued to develop since the 1900s.

They are now available in every sort of material, hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks being one.  They can incorporate gemstones, less precious stones and glass.  Coloured enamelled cufflinks can be made in any design and are especially popular.  Coco Chanel made fashion jewellery acceptable to wear.

The second world war brought shortages and rations when all this ended gentlemen started to use all sorts of flamboyant accessories, cigarette cases, lighter, tie pins, a wrist watch, a key chain, money clips and even rings.  Cufflinks were a significant part of the look.

Cufflinks including hallmarked sterling silver cufflinks have become even more popular recently with a revival in more traditional fashions as seen on many of the catwalks.

Angie Mastroyiannis
Angie Mastroyiannis


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