A Pair of Heirloom Cufflinks

A beautiful set does more than keep your sleeve together. It fastens you to the past and the future as well.

Illustration: Mickey Duzyj

The cufflink, strictly speaking, is an anachronism. Since the introduction of the buttoned barrel cuff at the beginning of the 20th century, cufflinks have lost their, well, essential-ness, and have become mere accessories, eye candy for wrists. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a pair. One very nice pair, in fact. When properly chosen, cufflinks—crisply holding together a French cuff, peeking out from under a suit coat catching the light—are gentlemanly bling. And it’s bling you can pass on. Even if you only break them out for weddings and wakes, a pair is still worth it, if only for the moment when you draw your wide-eyed son aside, and, pressing the links into his hand, say, “You’re a man now, Earl. Take these and run along.”

If you’re thinking long term—and you should always be thinking long term—avoid flashy statement links. (Material, by the way, is no indicator. One can be gauche and gold.) Eugene Klompus, founder of the National Cuff Link Society, says. “I would go for something that’s a staple in the matter of good taste; classic cufflinks that will stand the test of time.” The cufflink in question should be in either a precious metal—gold is nice, silver is more versatile—or precious stone: lapis, sapphire and emerald are good choices. It could be both. Though the fastening method is up to you, bullet back cufflinks—the kind with the hinge—are the classic choice, easy to put on and to secure in place. “Just make sure it doesn’t wobble. Wobbly things don’t last,” says Klompus.

As far as size goes, “A rule of thumb, no pun intended,” says Klompus, “is that a cufflink should be no larger and no smaller than your thumbnail. Beyond or below that, you get into the realm of ‘trendy’.” Chances are, what’s trendy now won’t be when your kid’s old enough to enjoy his links.

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  1. Gautam says:

    You should probably note that cufflinks require a whole different type of dress shirt, which isn’t once stated in this article…

  2. Lonny says:

    I just purchased a pair of Tiffany “Please Return To” cufflinks in sterling silver (very similar to the illustration). Absolutely beautiful, and definitely something I can pass on. They’ll never go out of style.

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