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The Cuff Link Convention

About a month ago, I wrote an article introducing the Cuff Link Convention of the International Cuff Link Association. Today, I would like to share some of my impressions from this event.

When I arrived on Saturday morning, I was warmly welcomed by the association President, Dave Mehlhoff, and some other members. The convention was kicked off with breakfast and presentations.

Cuff Link Presentations

Of the many subjects covered, I learned a lot about Asian cufflinks and the alloys from which they are constructed. For example, Shakudo is a copper alloy supplemented with a small amount of gold. Shibuichi, on the other hand, is a silver-copper alloy that has roots in ancient Japan. Personally, I enjoyed the cufflinks made of Japanese lacquer, a material which originates from the urushi tree and is widely used in Japanese arts. The first items of Japanese lacquer were made more than 6000 years ago, and of course, there are a number of lacquer variations on the market today. Apart from that, the 45-minute long presentation revealed far more detail than I could ever put in this article.

Tortoise Shell Cuff Link

Tortoise Shell Cuff Link

The second presentation was about unusual cufflinks, especially unusual closing mechanisms. Apart from snap cufflinks, there existed a number of other exotic push or snap mechanisms, of which some were even patented. Nevertheless, they never really caught on. Just take a look these gold ones. You had to push on the left side of the bar in order to open them, put the bar through the buttonholes in your shirt, and close them again.

A following presentation focused on 3 famous men who had a weakness for cufflinks, including the infamous Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. The jewelry houses of Fabergé and Cartier provided the Romanov family with an incredible amount of the beautiful cloisonné enamel jewelry, including a considerable number of cufflinks. Oftentimes, these masterpieces were given away as presents to guests and friends of the Tsar. Fortunately, there are a number of Fabergé cufflinks from the Russian Tsar that survived, and the occasional Sotheby’s auction often fetchs prices of £50,000 to £150,000!

Ivory Cannon with Pencil Cuff Links

Ivory Cannon with Pencil Cuff Links

The second day began with a presentation entirely dedicated to snap cufflinks. This special closing mechanism, very similar to a push button, vanished in the 1920’s. Ever since, the mechanism maintains its obscurity as no manufacturer has been able to reintroduce high quality snap cuff links to the general public successfully. However, there are still thousands of vintage snap cufflinks left, and consequently, there are a number of people who covet these interesting pieces of art. One pair of snap cufflinks I really liked was made of tortoise shell – what a beauty!

Finally, there was a presentation about the dress shirt as well as an introduction to Victorian cufflinks.

Cuff Links Exhibition

Aside from the presentations, the main attraction was the cufflink exhibition. A number of vendors had their cufflinks on display, but also for sale! I have never seen so many cufflinks at one place and I’m told that there were even more vendors in the past. Since this was the first convention, I am sure there will be more vendors in the future.

Evening Dress Set with cuff links, studs and vest buttons

Evening Dress Set with cuff links, studs and vest buttons

One of the most interesting pairs of cufflinks I saw were two cannons made of ivory that had a pencil built into them. Similarly interesting were the 18K dog cufflinks. However, there were also a number of dress sets, like this bespoke set with studs in 18kt gold from Deakin & Francis, or this evening set with waistcoat buttons, cufflinks and studs. Other outstanding sets featured corals, diamonds and a lot of gold and platinum.

In any case, I saw everything from at $10 pairs over silver, to enamel and gold cufflinks to a few pairs of authentic Fabergé cufflinks that would set you back about $20,000!

Overall, there was really something for everybody and one could really find some steals. I ended up with a pair of sterling silver vermeil and blue enamel cufflinks from Portugal, but I could have also bought a Victorian pair from the world exhibition in Paris in 1862.

Considering the extraordinary  range of available cufflinks for affordable prices, I can singularly recommend to any interested party to the visit the next cufflink convention and buy a few pairs for themselves – it should take place sometime in August next year!

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