Up Close: Studs and Links


Vintage Krementz onyx and seed pearl cufflinks set in 14k gold.

A recent discussion by blog readers about the correctness of silver evening jewelry prompted me to add a history of formal studs and cufflinks to The Black Tie Guide.  Some interesting findings from my research:

  • Shirt studs originated in response to the the invention of stiff-front shirts which were too heavily starched to be buttoned.
  • I can now see why so many authorities recommend buying vintage evening jewelry.  Much of it is stunningly beautiful . . . and surprisingly affordable at many online antique dealers.
  • Researching 19th century studs can be a tricky matter because they were often referred to as “buttons” and were often designed to resemble their sewn-on counterparts.

For the record, I couldn’t locate a single written reference to silver studs or cufflinks in my numerous historical etiquette and fashion resources.  However, silver-ish metals were the norm for full-dress jewelry, primarily platinum, white gold and “white metal”.

On a side note, I also came across this nostalgic 1923 ad for men’s jewelry maker Krementz:

1923 Krementz ad

“Vacation days mean jazz. Jazz means dance. Dance means tuxedos.”

Makes one yearn for the gracious living of days gone by.


  1. Hal


    And you are right that vintage dress studs are prettier than most modern ones. The problem is that my dress shirt (like many modern shirts) is designed to take four studs, whereas vintage sets tend to expect two or three to be the very maximum you might need. Of course, I could buy a different shirt but then it does begin to get more expensive.

    I prefer the discrete subtlety of pearl or mother of pearl (which I have) to onyx. I’d always assumed, however, that onyx was the traditional standard. Interesting to note then that onyx and other stones are the more modern variants.

  2. A. R

    I may have to go hunting around for some vintage link and stud sets.

  3. Ashley Honeywell

    These sets come up recently often too – I bought a beautiful full Kreisler (US) smoky MOP set of cufflinks and both shirt and waistcoat studs, all for just over $100, not bad value and certainly not the most expensive item of my dinner suit

  4. William Wright

    I’ve been looking for years for a nice antique or vintage set of links and studs as a change for the more modern ones. A few antique stores did have them in years past, but when you have to describe what you want to a youngish type clerk who has no idea about this sort of thing, it gets old really fast. I am not giving up though because the longer it will take to find what I’m after, the sweeter it will be when I finally do get to push the links and studs through the tux shirt and wear them to a Symphony Concert or other very elegant night out. As to the modern 4 stud tux shirt, I actually prefer it since I am taller and a three-stud set would allow the buttons to show above the cummerbund and that’s a no-no I’m sure.


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