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a fix­a­tion for fine jew­ellery and a col­lec­tion of di­a­mond cuff­links, said to ex­ceed 150 pieces. His style was mim­icked by mem­bers of the French royal court, and soon by aris­to­crats across Europe.

Come the 19th cen­tury and the spread of wealth in the emerg­ing Vic­to­rian mid­dle class and the in­ge­nu­ity of mak­ers, aided by mech­a­ni­sa­tion as the cen­tury pro­gressed, saw Vic­to­rian fash­ion­con­scious gen­try and lead­ers of in­dus­try vy­ing with each other to sport the most gold about their per­sons.

Watches and chains strung across ever-ex­pand­ing bel­lies, heavy and or­nate signet rings, lapel posy hold­ers, gold-han­dled walk­ing canes and 18-carat shirt studs and cuff­links were de rigueur, es­pe­cially when dress­ing for din­ner or for a night at the theatre.

Cuf­flink styles re­flected the mood of the coun­try and its fash­ion. With the rise of the Em­pire, In­dian di­a­monds and sap­phires from Cey­lon were the gems of choice to dec­o­rate oth­er­wise plain gold links, while Whitby or French jet and black onyx links in­set with a sin­gle pearl marked Queen Vic­to­rian’s pe­riod of mourn­ing fol­low­ing her beloved Prince Al­bert’s death.

In con­trast, the sin­u­ous curves of the Art Nou­veau pe­riod were echoed in cuf­flink de­signs at the end of the cen­tury, soon pushed out by the an­gu­lar zigzags and racy sym­bol­ism of Art Deco.

Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies such as Howard Carter’s un­earthing of King Tu­tankhamen’s tomb in 1922 saw A pair of dou­ble di­a­mond and sap­phire cuff­links, each link in a bow mo­tif with an old-cut di­a­mond to the cen­tre. Es­ti­mate £800-1,200 Ro­man coins and en­grav­ings of pharaohs’ heads and other Egyp­tian sym­bols be­ing pressed into ac­tion on the face of links, by which time fash­ion in the Roar­ing Twen­ties and the deca­dent Thir­ties was in full swing.

De­signs be­came ever more flam­boy­ant, with trend­set­ters such as Edward VIII and Amer­i­can di­vor­cée Wal­lis Simp­son to­gether tak­ing men’s fash­ion ac­ces­sories to new heights.

The jew­els they gave each other doc­u­mented their leg­endary love story, among which was a pair of sap­phire and di­a­mond cuff­links she gave him in 1935, when their af­fair was still a se­cret.

In­scribed on the back by mak­ers Cartier with her re­as­sur­ance to him to “Hold Tight”, a phrase used of­ten by the cou­ple in their cor­re­spon­dence be­fore their mar­riage, they sold at Sotheby’s in Geneva in 1987 for $400,000.

Not all cuff­links are so pricey. Just as it is pos­si­ble to pay hun­dreds of thou­sands for the gold and gemen­crusted by im­por­tant mak­ers, it’s also easy to find sets for prices that won’t break the bank.

America took cuff­links to its heart and many 20th cen­tury mak­ers made ex­tremely stylish ex­am­ples in rolled gold that can cost as lit­tle as £15-20.

Some nov­elty cuff­links are cheaper still.

Sil­ver links with enamel dec­o­ra­tion are in a slightly higher bracket, while sim­ple 9ct gold sets need not cost more than £200-300.

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