Cufflinks provide a unique way to demonstrate sculpture and painting and not by covering metal or gems with oily dye. You wouldn’t think something like Reverse Carved jewelry could be an intricate or sensitive process, but with vintage items, it is quite the treasure to wear. Also known as Intaglio Jewelry, these “backward” carvings provide an opportunity to place loved ones, breathtaking scenes, and favorite creatures into an ornate set of shirt studs or cufflinks, bangles or charms.
Specifically, the way in which Reverse Carved or Intaglio jewelry is created is via Glyptography; an ancient technique that we can trace to 15,000 B.C.E. Of course, the Intaglio jewelry we’re familiar with now doesn’t go back that far but it’s nice to know some traditions are maintained. Reverse Carved pieces as we know them originated in Belgium around 1860 and is credited to artist Emile Marius Pradier. Emile’s technique was further popularized by Thomas Cook who produced crystals for Lambeth & Co. While their specific technique has been kept within the family of Cook’s apprentice Thomas Bean, it hasn’t stopped other companies from creating their own Intaglio pieces.
One can create Intaglio jewelry out of a number of materials, carving within the piece a three-dimensional blend of sculpture and painting. Traditionally a crystal is used, but materials more popular in Costume Jewelry such a Lucite and glass prevail. This point makes vintage cufflinks and other adornments more valuable, especially if coming across Lambeth & Co. pieces as they were usually signed. This aside, the technique is fairly straight-forward if not painstakingly detail oriented. Depending on the material used, the quartz or “rock” must be polished and cut with a diamond saw. Engraving the design desired then follows and after that one must paint, with watercolors, the image they want to be presented. Painting with watercolors first ensures more detailed carving before fusing more permanent paints with the material.
In the 1940s reverse carved jewelry was a hobby and there are plenty of do it yourself manuals from that era one can search for online, but for the vintage lover The Missing Link has collected a prized selection:
Golfing is a hobby often reserved for those who like a little leisure in their sport and business casual parties. Well, to attend you should have to wear cufflinks and sport your choice of competition! Here we have reverse carved cufflinks that reflect your Sunday afternoon indulgence and hopefully a sign of that hole in one.
Ponies may be for princesses but polo is for those whose rule the kingdom. Cufflinks don’t need to be gems, jewels, and high priced antiques, they can also be a jumping point in a conversation to discuss mutual interests.
The most leisurely form of hunting there is and perhaps one of the most patience-testing. These reverse carved cufflinks show the success of a fishermen’s day and are etched in crystals hailing from the 1920s-30s.
Interests can be permanently displayed in one’s wardrobe, beyond the opulence of what one can afford. Don’t be pigeonholed into an echelon of glitter and glam, explore techniques and hobbies on your wrists. Begin conversations with subtle influence and ancient methods that are brought to life on a fine suit. Things of magnificence shouldn’t be relegated to special occasions or Costume Jewelry.
Welcome to the Missing Link, unearthed.