John F. Kennedy gifted his to friends. Cary Grant wore them, as did Marlene Dietrich and Coco Chanel. The emblematic cufflink adds instant panache to corporate and formal attire; it can be both an expression of character and a token of sentiment, and a supreme example of when form meets function.
Deakin & Francis has been creating cufflinks with character since 1786, making it the oldest surviving jeweller in Britain. Now run by seventh generation brothers James and Henry Deakin, the historic, heritage brand is renowned for its handsome, beautifully crafted cuff candy, which attracts a diverse audience of modern dandies, rock stars and royalty. Benedict Cumberbatch is a fan, and the Birmingham-based brand also exclusively dressed the sleeve hems of Colin Firth and Taron Egerton in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, released earlier this year.
All cufflinks are handcrafted in the company’s Birmingham-based workshop, where hand-drawn sketches are brought to life by a team of skilled artisans – a process that has scarcely altered in 231 years.
For the first time in the jeweller’s esteemed history, Deakin & Francis has opened a standalone boutique, located in London’s prestigious Piccadilly Arcade. “The location was extremely important to us in this process. Piccadilly Arcade is perfect, due to its historic association and selection of complementary boutiques,” says Deakin. “Not only are we in close proximity to some of the world’s biggest luxury jewellery brands, we are also next to the home of classic British tailoring, Savile Row.”
The stylish flagship boutique showcases the brand’s diverse, dapper offering, which also includes signet rings and accessories including money clips and lapels. Contemporary cufflinks span fine gold and vitreous enamel to subversive Sterling Silver creations. “We always like to have a bit of fun and last year our biggest lesson was to be different; to be outrageous.”
Indeed, flamboyant pieces have become bestsellers, from shooting rockets to Hairy Viking Skulls, with a black spinel helmet and hirsute trim. Then there are eye-popping skulls, gleaming stallions and shiny sharks, set with twinkling diamond eyes. “Our classic pieces will always be firm favourites though; timeless designs that can be passed down from one generation to the next.”
Black and white photographs line the walls of the boutique, showcasing the brand’s illustrious heritage, as well as offering a snapshot of Britain’s manufacturing past. Why, you could easily while away an afternoon listening the Deakin brothers regale tales of pirates, goldsmiths and English gentry. Or you could just pop by for a piece of detailed hardware, and join the world’s most prestigious cufflink club.
19-21 Piccadilly Arcade, St. James's, London SW1Y 6NH, www.deakinandfrancis.co.uk.