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.