The Master of Cufflinks

The best cufflinks come from a village in southern Germany. They are produced by the Emil Kraus manufacture in Mönsheim and are available at Wempe. The Emil Kraus owners don’t think much of advertising; they believe their products’ value can simply be felt.

There’s no need for a long sales pitch, says Katja Binder, the Managing Director of the Emil Kraus manufacture, a company that produces cufflinks in Mönsheim in the Swabian region of Germany.



Take them in your hand, then you’ll feel the qualities that we focus on.

 

We begin by running our fingers over the surface of a cufflink from the CEO collection — a tiny panel of fine-grained slate, perfectly fitted into its bezel. “You won’t find two that are alike,” she says. Then we pick up a glittering Senator cufflink. “It has 256 diamanté facets,” explains her husband Marcus. Next is a series of cufflinks with animal motifs — elephants, rams, and lions — hand-painted inside a polished piece of rock crystal that had previously been hollowed out. “The artist uses a brush consisting of a single hair,” he says.

Even the folding mechanism is as smooth as a billiard ball. There are no seams or protruding studs that could tear a fine shirt. “You see? You simply have to feel it for yourself,” says Katja Binder.

In the mid-17th century, boutons de manchette replaced the narrow silk ribbons that were used to tie shirtsleeves around the wearer’s wrists. First at the court of Louis XIV and then all over Europe, cufflinks became adornments of the elite and were made of mother-of-pearl, gold or precious stones. Even today, they are prized as a way to present the wearer’s family coat of arms or hobbies. Princess Diana made cufflinks acceptable ornaments for women as well.

The Emil Kraus company has been part of this history for 150 years as a brand and a supplier to the most opulent names in the jewelry and timepiece industry. The company’s hallmark, a stylized sailboat, is a reference to the last name of the founder, a Herr Kahn (“boat”) from Schwäbisch Gmünd. After the company was destroyed in World War II, Kahn’s friend and colleague Emil Kraus built it up again and headed it until his sudden death in the early 1970s.

His daughter Gabriele, a banker by profession, took over the business and developed it into an institution. In Geneva, she was referred to as “La Grande Dame.” Piles of Christmas cards sent to her with personal dedications are still lying in a cabinet.  The renown of “La Grande Dame” made it easy for the Binders to enter the business. Kim-Eva Wempe invited them to Hamburg when she found out that the company was once again picking up speed.

The Binders consider their employees just as important as their customers. At Emil Kraus, experienced goldsmiths and polishers engrave, weld, file, and polish the buttons, posts, and clasps that make up a cufflink. They have been the heart and soul of the company for many years, and craftsmanship and technology are their passions. The technical director is an engineer who deploys equipment such as a new 3D printer and a state-of-the-art laser machine.
The combination of tradition and innovative technology is part of the company’s philosophy. “We are the only company in our sector that does things this way,” says Marcus Binder with pride. He adds that the company is quick and flexible when it handles customer requests such as special gemstones and individual symbols or drawings. It takes four weeks to produce the customized items that are in such great demand today. For example, a Norwegian customer requested a set of cufflinks and sent the company two 20 carat black diamonds along with his order. How did the cufflinks turn out? “They were downright magical,” says Marcus Binder. “You couldn’t take your eyes off them.”

Discover masterful craftsmanship, made by the Emil Kraus manufacture!

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