Gems in Cufflinks


gems in cufflinks - chalcedony and diamond cufflinks
The striped pattern in this chalcedony gives the perfect opportunity for a line of diamonds in these cufflinks. © Grima Jewellery. Used with permission.

Wearing gems in cufflinks is a great way to add personality and style to an otherwise standard tuxedo. Gems add a unique flair compared to plain metal or enamel. Whether you’re looking for your next pair or a special gift, this guide can help you understand your options, as well as which gems best suit specific occasions.

Formal and Reserved Gems in Cufflinks

For black tie events where a tuxedo is not optional, sticking to traditional styles is simplest. Black jade (jadeite or nephrite) is an excellent choice for these occasions and also versatile enough for less formal occasions. Plus, jade is a hard and tough material that is unlikely to scratch or break, requiring little care to keep your cufflinks in prime condition. If jade is out of your price range, black onyx has a similar look at a lower price point and makes a very traditional cufflink gem.

gems in cufflinks - black jade cufflinks
Silver cufflinks with black jadeite have a very traditional look. Guatemalan black jadeite with this excellent, smooth texture is becoming scarce. © La Casa del Jade. Used with permission.

However, black is considered inappropriate for white tie events. For white tie, mother of pearl is your best bet. Cufflinks with its delicate shine make a great addition to any wardrobe. Pearl is another option. With the same delicate sheen but a rounded profile, pearls can add some interest to tuxedos. Mother of pearl and pearl are also appropriate for black tie events. However, these materials are easily scratched. Store them carefully at the end of the night.

gems in cufflinks - men's tahitian pearl jewelry
Using half-pearls in cufflinks, studs, and a ring gives this jewelry set a lower profile and perfect matching. © J. Grahl Design. Used with permission.

Gems with Sparkle and Flair

Of course, faceted gems are also an option! Though these are best reserved for evening wear, the sparkle of a well-cut gem can add interest to a tuxedo at any time.

Some of the most popular choices are diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald. Jewelry makers often incorporate these gems into designs or patterns on top of more traditional materials, like mother of pearl or onyx. While diamond, sapphire, and ruby are durable enough to resist scratching and chipping under most circumstances, emerald is somewhat fragile and will chip or fracture easily.

gems in cufflinks - sapphire and diamond
Ancient Etruscan-style fine granulation enjoyed a revival in the 19th century and remains an eye-catching metal jewelry technique. Etruscan sapphire cufflinks with 1.3-ct blue sapphire and diamonds. © Jonathan Lee Rutledge. Used with permission.

Colorful Cabochons, Doublets, and Triplets

Of course, events with a looser dress code offer more room for color and personality. Cabochons are a great way to showcase the beauty of translucent or opaque gems. Furthermore, with the right style, cabochon gems in cufflinks may be appropriate for everyday wear.

Tourmaline and garnet make beautiful translucent cabochon material, and both come in a wide variety of colors. In addition, these gems are hard and durable enough to resist wear. Although best known for red hues, garnets occur in every color, except blue. Some may even change color under different lighting sources. The most common variety of gem tourmaline is verdelite, the green variety.

gems in cufflinks - green tourmaline cufflinks
Green tourmaline, or verdelite, is a great way to incorporate color into cufflinks. © Grima Jewellery. Used with permission.

If you’re looking for something more unique, a gem with a cat’s eye or asterism is sure to attract attention. For another fascinating option, consider an opal with its play of color in a doublet or triplet setting.

Keep in mind that these assembled gems require special care. Also, many opals show their best colors in sunlight. Although doublets have a better aesthetic and higher value, a triplet has a hard top surface resistant to scratching.

Gem Choices for Everyday Wear

If you wear jackets and French cuffs frequently, you may want some cufflinks for everyday wear. Matching the color to your tie or socks is a great way to coordinate!

Some gems, such as agate and turquoise, have natural patterns that complement solid-color suits and shirts. On the other hand, gems with solid colors are best for shirts with patterns. Lapis lazuli, with dark blue hues, is an excellent example. Chalcedony, chrysoprase, carnelian, malachite, and hematite also make great options for cufflinks.

If you’re looking for a conversation starter, materials like meteorite or gem-grade bone are sure to get people talking. While these unusual gems have an appeal beyond their appearance, they are attractive in cufflinks and other jewelry designs.

gems in cufflinks - gem bone
These silver cufflinks are inlaid with dinosaur bone, a material that’s sure to get compliments. “Custom Gembone Inlay Cufflinks” by Jessa and Mark Anderson. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

About the author
Addison Rice
A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison's interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth's geological processes began in her elementary school's environmental club. When she isn't writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.
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