I Gemelli da Polso – that’s the title of Leonardo Volpini’s remarkable book. In Italian, it simply means: Cuff Links.
These wonderful little closure mechanisms present men with a wonderful opportunity to wear jjewellery and hence, they should be worn whenever possible. Personally, the few exceptions I make are during warm weather; I prefer regular button cuffs over double cuffs (also known as French cuffs) when it is warm outside because the double layer of fabric around the wrist makes you feel hot.
Although quite a number of men wear cufflinks again, not very much has been brought to paper regarding the art form. This is an example of one of the few. Before we introduce the book, we would like to share a little bit about where Mr. Volpini’s passion for the ultimate accessory came from.
In 1961, when Mr. Volpini was nine years old, he faced his Prima Comunione–the first communion–and for the first time, he wore a pair of cuff links, borrowed from his father. Immediately, he liked the look of them on his cuffs and from then on, he wore them frequently.
His parents had a passion for antiques, which they passed on to Leonardo. After he graduated from University, he worked for Ritz Group Import in Bologna as Trade and Sales Manager, handling brands like Allen Edmonds, Willis & Geiger, Catalina and POLO Ralph Lauren.
Since Mr. Volpini had developed into an expert on antique furniture and accessories, he was tasked to search for appropriate paraphernalia to decorate the Ralph Lauren Show-Room in Milan.
Realizing that antiques were not only his passion, but also his area of expertise, he finally started an Antiques Business in Bologna, I Volpini, together with his wife in 1989.
At this time he also started collecting cuff links. He was primarily interested in cuff jewelry that featured foxes, since the translation for Volpini is indeed Foxes. So, it comes hardly as a surprise that the Company logo is composed of foxes as well.
At I Volpini you will find Austro-Hungarian Biedermeier furniture, paintings of mountain landscapes, flowers, animals, and so on, as well as a wide array of objects for the gentleman, ranging from sports, hobbies, leisure, hunting, and fishing to jewellery, especially cuff links.
I Gemelli da Polso – The Cuff Links – Book
The book is separated into three parts. First, we have the written Italian chapter, which I skipped because it was translated into English by Clarice Zdanski in the second chapter. Over 33 pages, Volpini talks about the history of cuff links and starts out with the psychology of décor, the development of the shirt as well as uniforms and civilian fashions. While the focus is squarely on cuff links, he then mentions famous cufflink owner Oscar Wilde, talks about the Duke of Windsor and the cuff links he received from Wallis Simpson, and explains cuff links in Hollywood. He also provides a little overview of Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, Jugendstil, Liberty, and Wiener Werkstätte, and explains how these styles influenced the design of cufflinks. Finally, he elaborates on hunting and animal motifs, arts & fantasy, as well as sports, games and leisure times motifs of cuff jewelry.
In the remaining 350 pages, you can see an impressive array of pictures of cuff links taken by Diego Motto. The first chapter deals with cufflinks made of gold & gemstones, which is followed by a full range of pictures of the aforementioned motifs. Every cuff link picture features a brief description of the origin and period, and if available the designer or manufacturer.
Altogether, the translation of the book is sometimes not entirely clear, I was always able to understand the gist. It features many pictures and provides a good overview of cuff links in general. Unfortunately, the text is isolated from the pictures, so the reader must thumb back and forth through the book in order to better understand the content. Nevertheless, I think it is a very nice book about cuff links and for the price of 19.90 EUR, it is well worth its money.
Though widely available in Italy, it is more difficult to find the book in the rest of the world.
The best way to order it is through abebooks. It is then shipped from Italy to any destination worldwide. To the US, it only costs $26.55 at current conversion rates with $11.91 for shipping. In total, you still spend less than $40. Considering that the book has to be shipped from the other side of the pond, it is a fair price.
Moreover, if you like cuff links, you should also consider this cuff link book.
I GEMELLI DA POLSO
- Paperback: 399 pages
- Publisher: Federico Motta Editore ; 1st edition (2001)
- Author: Leonardo Volpini
- ISBN-13: 978-8871793030