Sterling Silver Cufflinks and Shirts: A Glance Back At Their History

by Angie Mastroyiannis March 28, 2018

Sterling Silver Cufflinks and Shirts: A Glance Back At Their History - ONE BOND STREET


It certainly wont come as a surprise that, here at One Bond Street, our very favourite type of accessory is the humble (yet ever so elegant and sophisticated) sterling silver cufflink. Indeed, whether these be simple or intricate, subtle or eye-catching, racing-themed, bespoke, purchased from One Bond Street or otherwise, sterling silver cufflinks are the one variant of jewellery we prize above all else! Of course, this is not to say that we aren’t particularly partial to other types of stunning sterling silver jewellery - like beautiful bespoke bangles, as crafted by One Bond Street, and other such luxury articles - just that sterling silver cufflinks are, without doubt, our favourites! 

 With this in mind, we thought it pertinent to take a little glance back at where the wonderful sterling silver cufflink has come from. After all, if they hadn’t been invented many moons ago, we might not be fortunate enough to enjoy them today so their history is certainly worth exploring! 

 As you might expect, the history of the cufflink - including the exclusive sterling silver cufflink and, of course, other charming varieties - is closely intertwined with that of the shirt. Back in the 1500s, you see, shirts with buttons had not yet been developed so instead gentlemen of high status and wealth tended to sport shirts with ruffled wristbands which, in the absence of buttons, needed to be fastened together with string. From this we can see then, that cufflinks, whether they are sterling silver cufflinks or otherwise, have always had a practical raison d’être!

Later, in around the 1700s, their more fashionable element was realised as the strings that were formerly used were replaced by exquisitely delicate and opulent gold and silver chains which were attached to small buttons that had been fixed at the end of gentlemen’s shirt sleeves. These delicate buttons were first made of glass and then, a little later, from decorative jewels - no doubt, for a more luxurious and opulent feel!

Subsequently, towards the end of the 1700s and into the early 1800s - the epoch in which the Industrial Revolution was unfolding - manufacturing processes grew cheaper and cufflinks, although not sterling silver cufflinks at this time, came to be produced en masse. Cufflinks, therefore, became far more affordable and, in turn, prevalent in society: no longer the preserve of ‘high society’ and enjoyed by the masses.

Since then, cufflinks, whether sterling silver cufflinks, sold by One Bond Street, or otherwise, have experienced a decline in prevalence and, again, this is related to trends in shirt production. Indeed, towards the end of the 20th century, shirts that already had buttons fixed onto their sleeves were being mass produced, meaning that cufflinks in all their guises ceased to be as practically useful and, thus, became less prevalent. 

Importantly for us, however, whilst the every day wearing of cufflinks declined considerably with this development, cufflinks themselves did not fade into obscurity. Instead, cufflinks - whether sterling silver cufflinks or sold by One Bond Street otherwise - they became a more decorative, luxury item, sported by debonair gentlemen in order to inject an air of refinement, cultivation and sophistication into their charming and elegant outfits and exteriors. 

 So, there you have it: a brief history of the marvellous (sterling silver) cufflink, like those manufactured by One Bond Street, and the manner in which it has been intertwined with the development of the gentlemen's shirt. All that's left to say is thank goodness the humble cufflink was invented all those centuries ago! 

Angie Mastroyiannis
Angie Mastroyiannis


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