The Four Graces

Antique cufflinks with shell cameos in gold, around 1900

As early as the 16th century, the forerunners of today's shirts were created, whose sleeves could be tied together with a silk ribbon. Silk cuff bands remained popular until the 19th century. From the time of Louis XIV, however, the cuffs were increasingly closed with "boutons de manchette". Typically, these were pairs of colored glass buttons connected by a short chain. In the course of the 18th century, these glass buttons were then replaced by elaborately painted pieces or pairs set with precious stones. At this time, cufflinks were common as a luxury item mainly in aristocratic circles. In the early 20th century, however, they began their triumphant advance in bourgeois fashion as well, so that we know a wide variety of designs from this period. The present pair is particularly beautiful, as it exploits the peculiarity of cufflinks to have four show sides. Thus, at first glance, the four shell cameo cufflinks presented here are uniform in design, for they each show a young woman in profile. At second glance, however, it is revealed that each of the four hand-cut cameos is individually designed: one lady wears a pearl necklace, the other a ribbon in her hair, they wear their hair in slightly different lengths and the delicate fabric of their dresses plays with the wind in different ways. What the sitters have in common, however, is that they all correspond unmistakably to the ideal of beauty of the years around 1900, which called for loosely pinned-up hair and airy fabrics. This is the type of woman we know from Giovanni Boldini's paintings or Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Girl". Thus, despite their simple, timeless setting, the buttons can be dated to the years before the turn of the last century. They are excellently preserved.

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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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