Image: George Ong
December 09 2011
Lucia van der Post
Chaps, it is self-evident, don’t have too many outlets for decorative flourishes about their person. A tie and tie pin, a spotty handkerchief, perhaps some subversive socks, a brilliant shirt or a raffish cravat, and that’s about it – apart from cuff links, that is.
Cuff links were historically the mark of a gentleman since they were only worn with shirts sporting double cuffs, which traditionally were only paired with suits. These days that all feels a bit last century and plenty of men now pair their double-cuffed shirts with trousers and a jacket. But cuff links themselves are currently getting a lot of artistic attention, so much so that even those who don’t own too many double-cuffed numbers might be tempted to start indulging.
Samuel Gassmann started designing cuff links by accident when he was making a documentary about men’s buttons. He found a cache of vintage glass buttons made in the 1940s in Germany for a very grand French designer, and has turned them into very desirable cuff links; they are being sold exclusively through Wolf & Badger in London. The button cuff links are priced between £80 and £180. (Centre in picture: Daisy cuff links, £180.)
Meanwhile, Henry Graham, one of the co-founders of Wolf & Badger, has become so entranced by the possibilities of the cuff link that he and girlfriend Zoë Wilkinson have embarked on designing some of their own through their jewellery company, Hotel Zulu. In sterling silver, plated in black rhodium or gold with haematite, they are spherical and very classy looking indeed. They are £350 a pair (top in picture).
And at Louisa Guinness Gallery, which specialises in collaborating with artists, pop artist Peter Blake has done some beauties. Some are tiny painted watercolour motifs (charming little hearts, stars or circles), others feature objects such as a miniature spoon that acts as a shaft. They are £6,000 a pair. Anish Kapoor does a miniature version of his famous “void” theme, coming up with some beautiful 22ct gold cuff links with hollowed-out spheres, also at £6,000 a pair and in a limited edition of 100.
For rarity value, it might be hard to beat Dunhill’s links, made from mammoth tusks which are carved into rods, dyed black and then held firm by sterling silver (bottom in picture, £265). And for those who think there’s nothing to beat something old, Alfies and Grays antiques markets in London are great sources of vintage Boucheron, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels.