Vintage Cufflink Buying Guide

Lot of vintage cufflinks from our

Lot of vintage cufflinks from our eBay store

          Cufflinks continue to surge in popularity and nothing beats the classic links of the 1930’s- 70’s. They were better constructed from higher quality materials than today’s pieces and offer a unique retro look that simply cannot be re-produced. Many men have re-discovered this understated touch of glitz that allows them to show a bit of fashion sense and glamour without going full “Liberace.” 

 Buying vintage cufflinks for the man who already wears cufflinks is an easy task. You can take a look at his existing pieces to get an idea of  the size and ‘glamour’ factor with which he is comfortable. The more difficult task is buying cufflinks for the non-wearer or the guy who only has a single pair of plain knots that came free with a shirt.

 Choosing the right pair of cufflinks

          The first decision you should make is whether you want to buy precious metal or fashion links. Precious metal pieces in gold or sterling silver will generally, though not always, cost significantly more than fashion links. Both precious metal and fashion pieces are available in a wide variety of styles and sizes so, when making this decision, you should focus more on your budget than the recipient’s individual style (unless you’re buying for a guy who you know won’t wear anything but gold or sterling silver).

          Once you’ve made this decision, it’s time to choose the type of links that will make your guy happy.  Three popular types of vintage links are:

  1. Pull a part (aka “kum-a-part” or “snap-links”). These are two piece cufflinks which separate and then snap back together.  Snap-Link is an excellent brand.

    A pair of Antique Edwardian 9K Gold Pull Apart Links

    A pair of Antique Edwardian 9K Gold Pull Apart Links

  2. Fixed Back. These are one-part rigid cufflinks with a fixed back that does not move. Example of swivel back cufflinks
  3. Swivel Back (aka “clip back” or “spring back”). These cufflinks have a back piece that swivels forward to make it easier to “thread” through the shirt cuff and then swivels back into place to hold the cuffs together. This is probably the most common style of vintage cufflinks.     

 A typical pair of swivel backs from our ebay store A typical pair of swivel backs from our eBay store

The type of cufflinks you choose will dictate, to some degree, the styles available. Snap links are generally small faced. There are some exceptional Art Deco snap links available on the market that can be purchased for around $40.00 – if you can find them. Look for bright rhodium plated piece; crystal studded pieces and classic combos like black / blue, jade / white, and silver / black.

  • Fixed back cufflinks tend to be older and are often gold plated or gold filled (see our article on the difference between gold filled and gold plated jewelry). They can come in a wide range of styles but are sometimes difficult to find.
  • Swivel backs are the most common of the three types and can be found to match any budget and any taste. If you are buying the first pair of cufflinks for the lucky recipient, it’s probably best to focus on swivel backs.

Choosing the right cufflink size 

Once you’ve selected a type, the next thing to consider is size.  There are really two sizes: normal face and large face. Most guys will rock a normal face cufflink, but if you’re buying for someone with a flair for the extreme or desire to be noticed, then you might want to consider a pair of bold large faced cufflinks. Below is a side by side comparison of normal faced and large faced Vintage Hopi Sterling Silver & Turquoise Cufflinks from our eBay store.

 The large faced cufflinks are much bigger 2The large faced cufflinks are much bigger  1

Cufflink styles

With size selected, it’s time to consider the all-important style. For the overwhelming majority of guys, silver colored or dark colored cufflinks will fit the bill – but you should look for something with a bit of funk to separate your guy from the pack. If he wears mostly dark clothing, drives a truck and prefers the robustness of domestic beer – you should error on the side of less “glamour”. If he regularly sports a fedora, wears jeans so skinny they wouldn’t fit an anorexic giraffe and mixes his own bitters, you have more room to play.

Here are some examples from our inventory to give you an idea of what’s out there:

 

UNDERSTATED

Classic 1950’s Blackened Sterling Silver Asian Swivel Backs

Classic 1950’s Blackened Sterling Silver Asian Swivel Backs

Mid-centurty modern starburst and onyx sterling silver swivel backs

Mid-century modern starburst and onyx sterling silver swivel backs

Vintage Designer 18K gold on Sterling Silver Blue Enamel Equestrian Ropes Swivel Backs

Vintage Designer 18K gold on Sterling Silver Blue Enamel Equestrian Ropes Swivel Backs

 

MORE GLAMOUROUS

Antique Yellow Gold Giant Rose Bouquet Swivel backs

Antique Yellow Gold Giant Rose Bouquet Swivel backs

 

Massive Large Faced Sterling Silver and Turquoise TAXCO Swivel Backs

Massive Large Faced Sterling Silver and Turquoise TAXCO Swivel Backs

Antique 9K Gold British Snap Backs with Floral Relief

Antique 9K Gold British Snap Backs with Floral Relief

 

 

 Good luck in your search for the perfect links and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!

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2 Responses to Vintage Cufflink Buying Guide

  1. Vanessa says:

    Hello, I recently bought a pair of Guilloche enamel, fixed, football cufflinks. I’ve researched, and I can’t seem to find an approximate age for these. I think they might be from the Art Deco period, but I’m just not sure. Any thoughts?

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