Somebody asked me recently, after spotting a funky pair of panda cufflinks that I had designed myself, about how the cufflinks at Deakin & Francis® are made. Interestingly, the processes used to make the cufflinks are still very similar to those used over 200 years ago.
Firstly, the initial shape and pattern of the cufflinks is stamped out of a sheet of precious metal, either gold, silver or platinum, using a specially made ‘die’. This is done using a hydraulic press.
Once the cufflink has been cut out it is then sent to another part of the workshop where the fitting is soldered on.
Following this, the cufflinks are cleaned, weighed and sent to The Assay Office where they will be hallmarked. Hallmarks ensure the quality of the metals used to create the cufflinks and first became a requirement for products made of precious metals in the 1300’s.
If they are vitreous enamel cufflinks, once retuned they will go to the enamelling workshop. Here the enamellers select the glass colours they will use and ground them into a fine powder, which is then mixed with distilled water. The enamel is applied to the metal cufflink using a fine nib- this is a delicate job and leaves no room for mistakes!
Once all sections of the cufflink have been filled with enamel it is placed onto a basket and put into a kiln which heats up to 800°C. This allows the glass enamel to fuse onto the metal surface of the cufflink. After the cufflink has been removed from the kiln and allowed to cool, the enamellers will repeat the enamelling process until the right depth of colour and richness is achieved.
The cufflinks are then polished and placed in a ‘barrelling’ machine to clean the surface. After this the final piece of the fitting is added and they are complete!
As each pair of cufflinks is handmade using methods that were first developed by the early Egyptian Byzantine Chinese and Japanese Dynasties, we can be sure that every pair is unique and of the highest craftsmanship.
Every time somebody asks me about my handmade vitreous enamel cufflinks, I find myself telling them the awesome story of how they were made.