A cufflink (also cuff link or cuff-link) is a decorative fastener worn by men or women to fasten the two sides of the cuff on a dress shirt or blouse.
Cufflinks are designed only for use with link cuffs (also known as French Cuffs or double cuffs), which have buttonholes on both sides but no buttons. These may be either single or double-length ("French") cuffs, and may be worn either "kissing," with the ends pinched together, or "barrel-style," with one end overlapping the other. Kissing cuffs are usually preferred.
Cufflink designs vary widely. The simplest design consists of a short post or chain connecting two disc-shaped parts. The part positioned on the most visible side is usually larger; a variety of designs can connect the smaller piece: It may be small enough to fit through the button hole like a button would; it may be separated and attached from the other side; or it may have a portion that swivels on the central post, aligning with the post while the link is threaded through the button-hole and swiveling into a position at right angles to the post when worn.
The visible part of a cufflink is often monogrammed or decorated in some way. There are numerous styles including novelty cufflinks, traditional cufflinks, contemporary cufflinks, utility cufflinks, and humorous cufflinks.
An alternative fastener to a cufflink is the cheaper silk knot, which are also known as monkey's fists (more properly known as a turk's head). The Paris shirtmaker Charvet is credited with their introduction in the beginning of the 20th century: "Charvet buttons of twisted braid are quite the style" noted the New York Times in 1908.
This object is better known in Europe than North America and is just as well regarded and just as formal. French cuff shirts are often accompanied with a set of color-coordinated silk knots instead of double-button cufflinks. They are now rarely made from silk; often they are made from elastic.
This French cuff is fastened with gold-coloured silk knots.
Double-button cufflinks are a type of cufflink which are made of two buttons connected by a piece of thread of elastic. They are usually included with dress shirts that have french cuffs, and are made with the same kind of buttons as the front of the shirt.
Functionally, the double-button cufflink is almost exactly like the silk knot style cufflink, with two large pieces connected by a central strand. Double-button cufflinks are typically less expensive and considered less refined than normal cufflinks or silk knots.
The History of cufflinks goes back to the Middle Ages where its precursor, the 'cuff string', adorned the wrists of fashionable gentlemen of the day. One of the earliest references to what we now recognize as cufflinks was made in the London Gazette of 1684, which referred to a pair of cuff buttons set with diamonds; the same journal in 1686 also described a pair of gold enameled cuff buttons. More evidence of the existence of cufflinks in the 17th century was found in Suffolk, England, where a decorated gold single chain cufflink was discovered.
Despite its early appearance, the continual taste for adorning sleeve ends with elaborate wrist ruffles meant it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the cufflink really came into its own as dandy-ish ruffles gave way to functionally minimal sleeves and in particular the arrival of the French Cuff (also called the Double Cuff), or as the French themselves called it poignet mousquetaire – the musketeer's cuff, paving the way for the emergence proper of cufflinks.
Initially confined to the upper echelons of society, by the 1860's cufflink grew into the mainstream as jewelers like Child & Child in London and Krementz & Co in New York brought out cufflinks that were within the price range of the wider public.