Antique and Vintage Cufflinks : Reasons to Invest and Collect
by Veronica McCullough
If you are a man you might not wear cufflinks much these days. You might think you have no use for collecting antique and vintage cufflinks. From an investment standpoint, this is a bad decision. There are still a lot of men who wear cufflinks and current fashion trends indicate they have come back in style in a big way, especially 1960s and 1970s Retro cufflinks. The people who buy antique cufflinks and designer vintage cufflinks the most are collectors, who are hoarding them for good reason.
In the past 10 years, antique and vintage cufflinks, preferably designer signed sets, have skyrocketed in price and value. The values will continue to rise as collectors hoard cufflinks and supply decreases. The supply of antique and vintage cufflinks is constantly decreasing as collectors hoard. Antique and Vintage Cufflinks that were made by certain US and foreign jewelry designers have long been out of business and no more are being made. Most of these designers are long gone so to speak.
Ten years ago, you could have bought any set of antique or vintage designer cufflinks in the world for $10 or less. No one knew anything about designer cufflinks or the value of antique gold or gemstone cufflinks. Joseph Vastano...who ? Christian Dior...who ? Not many knew these names as cufflink designers.
Five years ago, you could have bought most any pair of cufflinks for $20 or less ( with the exception of gold or gemstone styles).
Today, the same cufflinks sets are now selling for $50 to $100 or more. In another 10 years, IF and only IF, you can find what is considered desirable collectible vintage cufflinks at all, expect to pay several hundred dollars to get them, or more.
It has been my experience that some people, both men and women, have trouble understanding this concept. It is not hard to understand if you first consider that in the US jewelry hay - days of the 1940s and 1950s there were over 10,000 jewelry firms producing jewelry. Today, they are all defunct and long gone. The ones you think might still be in business have farmed out their production to foreign countries and poor quality now renders their jewelry items rather worthless.
Think of it like cars that were made in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. Had you known in the 1960s that a Dodge Charger in mint condition would now be worth $ 100,000, you would have sold everything you owned and bought 50 of them.
The price and value of antique and vintage cufflinks will not go down regardless of the state of the economy. Presently, there are no sellers anywhere online that offer large collections of antique of vintage cufflinks for sale. I, at Great Vintage Jewelry, have one of the largest vintage cufflink collections available online, and my inventory is constantly in flux. Most cufflink websites online are for new cufflinks.
To give you a better idea of just how many people are researching or learning about collecting cufflinks, there is only one half-way decent book in print about antique and vintage cufflinks and by my standards, of what a vintage jewelry book should be, the book is very poor. No one alive today has great knowledge of the history of cufflink designers that used to exist in the US. Getting information on the designers would require thousands of hours of vintage jewelry research.
Knowing what cufflinks to collect is the most important aspect about collecting antique and vintage cufflinks. Condition is paramount, and all collectors should keep their cufflinks in mint condition. The must be protected from light and humidity. Condition cannot be assessed with the naked eye. Inspection under a loupe or magnifying glass is imperative. If a design is very old or very rare, only then would mint condition be a factor that could be waived.
Storing your cufflink collection in any type of jewelry box is not good enough. If they are exposed to the air, they are then being exposed to pollutants in the air and humidity. Over time, these harmful elements will ruin your cufflinks. Each cufflink must be stored, individually, in a sealed plastic bag. Tiny ziploc bags are available at Walmart on the craft isle.
Collect what you consider very unique and collect figural cufflinks, gold filled or gold cufflinks, antique and vintage sterling silver cufflinks, agate or gemstone cufflinks, and cufflinks with unusual features like art glass, carved wood or other carved materials, Retro Modern machine etched designs, and everything that is vintage souvenir or sports related. Once again I will stress : they must be antique or vintage, not new.
Swank was one of the largest and most well known cufflink designers, predominately in the 1940s through the 1960s. Many of their designs are NOT collectible, but many are highly collectible, especially unique Retro Modern cufflinks or Modernist designs from the Space Age or Atomic Era, and figural cufflinks such as beer mugs, birds, pistols, and cars.
Unsigned souvenir cufflinks from cities, towns, and places are also not being produced anymore and vintage designs are in very high demand. Anything that points to the culture of the 1960s and 1970s is also on the top of the list such as peace symbols, politics, Viet Nam or military related.
The top vintage cufflink designers to collect are Anson, Avedon, Christian Dior, Dante, Di Gino, Hadley, Hickok, Joseph Vastano, Kreisler, Oleg Cassini, Renoir, Sarah Coventry, and Spiedel.
Why am I giving this information away ? As a collector, you would think I would want to keep this knowledge to myself. I don't just collect antique and vintage cufflinks but I also collect a very wide range of other vintage designer jewelry and there are not enough years in my life to continue collecting at the pace I have been for the past 30-40 years. Use this information now and one day you will look back and say, “ There was once a very wise woman by the name of Veronica who told me to invest in antique and vintage cufflinks. Now I have a collection worth a small fortune.”
I could tell you a lot of stories about how I got here doing this but, to make lots of long stories short, I once sailed on oil tankers in the US Merchant Marines in the 1970s. (I was the only woman out there and there were no women in the military on ships.) After trading 2 pairs of Levis and some Playboy magazines in a hashish den in Burma for a hand full of uncut Burmese rubies, I went to NYC and sold them to a jeweler for $ 15,000. This old Jewish jeweler took one look at me and said, “ Keep doing whatever it is you are doing and you will be a very successful lady!” That was it. I was hooked. Us “guys” in the merchant marines made tons more money trading goods than we ever made in wages. Of course, those were the days before there were any real US Customs around and as long as you weren’t smuggling drugs, they turned a blind eye to everything else, if and when they ever came aboard ship.
Trust me when I tell you : Buy 100 pairs or more of unique antique vintage cufflinks in great condition and sit on them for 5 to 10 years or more. You wont be sorry! Buy at around $50 to $100 for vintage cufflinks (more for antique cufflinks) and your investment will be in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Expect the values to at least triple in 5 to 7 years. That will put your cufflink collection value in the range of $15,000 to $30,000. More realistically however, the values will probably increase 4 or 5 fold closer to 10 years down the road, or a value of about $25,000 to $50,000.
But, I could be wrong. You might buy just one pair of cufflinks and in ten years, just that one pair is worth 20 fold or more of what you paid for them. It all depends on what you learn to buy and not to buy.
If you have any questions about assessing condition or how to keep and care for your cufflink collection, please contact me through my website.
View My Collection of Antique and Retro Vintage Cufflinks For Sale