Regarding Derek Anastasia, ISCLA

Cuff Links Bring Past and Present Together
Enamel Cuff Links Add Artistic Elegance To Men's Ware
Treasures In Your Home TV Show -The Collecting Channel - October 18,1999
By Victor M. Gonzalez

Chinese enamel cuff links.
For more than a century, cuff links have been the fashionable way in which a well-dressed man kept his shirt cuffs together. Along with watches and rings, cuff links are one of the few pieces of jewelry worn by men, and one of the few ways a man could express himself.

Cuff links have had historical highs and lows in their appeal to the general population. They were one of the complexities of superior dressing that faded away slightly with the modern wash-and-wear world. But don't tell that to Derek Anastasia, a 38-year-old Manhattan and Ft. Lauderdale resident. Anastasia is scheduled to be featured on today's Treasures in Your Home. Derek also has a book in the works, The History of Enamel Cuff Links, that approaches enamel cuff links in the manner he finds most appropriate -- as pieces of art that reflect the major art style movements through the years.
Enamel cuff links.

Some people merely amass and accumulate for the sake of it, but Anastasia is a consummate collector, with 1,683 pairs. Anastasia got his start about 15 years ago, after his grandfather gave him a pair of antique, gold, hexagon shaped cuff links. Later, he discovered the gemlike brilliance of enamel cuff links, which captured his fancy in such a profound way he that he even has a website by that name. If he were to wear a different pair every day without repeating, it would take nearly four and half years to go through the entire collection.

In Manhattan, where he pursued his career after graduating with a business degree, he found that cuff links were beginning to come back into fashion. In fact, after landing his first job on Wall Street, he learned that they had never really gone out of style. "Currently, it is fashionable for men and women to wear cuff links, whether for business or pleasure," Anastasia said in a recent interview. "People look at every part of one's attire. Cuff links make a real statement that you're making the extra effort to complete your outfit. With enamels, different colors say something about your mood; they evoke different emotions."

Enamel cuff links website.
He explains the revival: "The resurgence in popularity of cuff links," he said, "was in part due to President Ronald Reagan's extensive wearing of cuff links -- he and Nancy brought back elegance to fashion." Derek said another reason was that, "Instead of "french cuff shirts" that only came in a standard white, shirt makers started producing them in colors and patterns -- which broadened the limitations of wearing cuff links."

Enamel cuff links are not the only kind, but they are certainly the most sought after. Classic 19th Century Enamel, which is made of ground glass (silica) and applied to metal and then heated with
Three-color enamel sterling cuff links.
heated to around 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, is capable of reproducing any color, and can be designed very intricately. Although men's jewelry had been popular for centuries, it was largely the province of the very wealthy until hand-craftsmanship was replaced by machines that could produce items at a lower cost. While functional cuff fasteners date to prehistoric times, followed by adorned cuff closures, contemporary cuff links were born in the mid 1800s.

Anastasia's work in progress book "documents the history of art styles starting from late Victorian era." He said, "Enamel cuff links capture portraits of time. They are miniature, wearable work s of art."
Turquoise and white base metal cuff links.

He estimates his collection is now worth over a half million dollars. Collecting cuff links an be fun for anyone, he said, because "they come in all different price points. Anyone can get into this. There are those with enamel, diamonds and platinum. And then there are those that just cost a few dollars." He also spends time looking for enamel cuff links on the Internet auction sites like eBay. The most prolific vintage and antique enamel cuff link manufacturers of the early part of the century were the Baer & Wild Co., Mosain, and Park Roger & Jiffy, he said. The most distinguished makers of enamel cuff links throughout the decades are the Cartier Inc., David Andersen Co., Deakin & Francis Ltd., The House of Faberge, Liberty & Co., Longmire and Tiffany & Co.

The heyday of enamel cuff links was in the 1920s, and Anastasia particularly enjoys the Art Deco style cuff links he's found from that period. The market for vintage and antique enamel cuff links has picked up considerably over the last two years, he said.

"The market has exploded for the enamels," he said. "The prices are strong compared to what they used to be 10 years ago." Anastasia points to two contributing factors: the coming millennial New Year, for which many people are planning their fashionable outfits. And most importantly, the resurgence of popularity in the Art Deco style. "Enamel was at the height of its popularity in the mid 1920s, coinciding with the universal recognition of the Art Deco style."

Though Anastasia doesn't sell his cuff links, he will trade; he even buys pairs he does not wear, such as those made for women. These pieces fill a need in his museum-like collection. "I'm painting an inclusive picture of the category to thoroughly document its history." Asked if he has a favorite pair, he laughed.

"It's like having kids or pets. They're all my favorites."

Copyright © 1999 All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents