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Dress Sets for the Dressed-up Set
Dress Sets for the Dressed-up Set
T.B. Starr Art Deco Moonstone, Diamond and Sapphire Dress-set in 14K and Platinum, c. 1930

With Father’s Day and wedding season upon us, it’s the zero hour to start thinking of gifts for the Y-chromosome individuals in your life. The attaché or briefcase and the tie used to be among dependable go-to gift items, but they are default items and most likely, they are not going to rock the recipient. But what man doesn’t need a dress set in his fashion arsenal? The touches that a tastefully dressed gentleman adds to his formal attire telegraph a fashion message, and a well-chosen dress set adds a splash of style.

Art Deco Crystal and Diamond Dress Set

Art Deco Crystal and Diamond Dress Set in 14K and Platinum

Men did not always wear cufflinks. As is often the case, necessity is the mother of invention — shirt cuffs were always traditionally wide enough to get the hand through, but that meant they were too voluminous to remain in place at the wrists. Ribbons were usually used to tame them. Ultimately, inventions started cropping up — metal fasteners, buttons, ornaments. It is an interesting aside that Alexandre Dumas, in ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, actually devotes text to describing the turned-back cuffs of the king’s troops and by the end of the Victorian Era, he may well have inspired designers to rethink those cuffs. Fortunately, for the gentleman of the 21st century, cufflinks alone and complete dress sets make very welcome wardrobe additions and moreover, are available in an infinite variety of styles.

French-Sapphire-Square-Cufflinks-in-18K

French Sapphire Square Cufflinks in 18K, c. 1975

The variety of dress sets available today is extensive and exciting, from simple, classic styles to personalized, custom-crafted, one-of-a-kind models, to the smartest and most sophisticated vintage suites. (For the record, a traditional dress set is comprised of a pair of cufflinks and four coordinated matching studs for the dress shirt.) Metals can vary from the precious — gold, platinum, and silver — to unusual ones like pinchbeck (an alloy invented in the 18th century, used in some period jewelry). Gemstone-embellished sets (think diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires) with even smallish stones will produce a sparkling glint of color and an oh-wow effect. Mother-of-pearl, onyx, coral, jade, malachite, lapis, and pearls are only some of the colorful, semi-precious materials that comprise striking dress sets.

Elephant-Head-Cufflinks-in-18K

Elephant Head Cufflinks in 18K, c. 2000

Additionally, dress sets are tomorrow’s vintage treasures, to be cherished by future generations. Don’t think that a fine dress set is for a man only. We have seen women who have inherited great-granddad’s dress set and have transformed the individual pieces into jewelry for themselves. Not many dress sets have this provenance, but in 1987, a pair of cufflinks given to Edward VIII by his soon-to-be wife, Wallis Simpson, sold at auction for $400,000.

Art-Deco-Diamond-and-Onyx-Dress-Set

Art Deco Diamond and Onyx Dress Set in Platinum and 14K

Shop all dress sets here.

Ruth J. Katz

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