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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Cuff links

A device that is employed to join temporarily the two ends of a cuff around the wearer's wrist without overlapping the cuff ends, being inserted through two buttonholes.

Such articles are made of gold, silver or other materials, in many ornamental styles, shapes and sizes; luxury examples are ornamented with gemstones, enamelling, engraving, or relief decoration.

Cuff links are made in several forms:

  • with a short chain or loose link connecting the head with the rear head or back-plate, being attached to each by a 'jump ring'
  • with a back-plate of lentoid form that is joined by a fixed bar to the ornamented head
  • with a bar fixed vertically to the head and attached to a swivel bar that slides through the buttonholes and is then twisted into a securing horizontal position
  • with a chain that is coiled inside the head and that uncoils as the back-plate is passed through the buttonholes, to afford a variable space
  • with two separate pieces, one having a small boss and the other a corresponding depression, so that they can be pressed together as a 'press-stud'

Some cuff links have a decorative piece at each end that is too large to pass through a button hole; these 'double cuff links' are joined by a detachable link with a spring-like fastener. Cuff links are generally made in identical pairs, but some are of two different but harmonious designs

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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