The Different Types of Cufflinks

The Different Types of Cufflinks

Cufflinks are both functional and decorative, but not all cufflinks are created equal. There are several different types of cufflinks that you should be aware of before you buy or wear a new pair.

Whale Back

Also known as airplane backs, whale back cufflinks are one of the most common kinds of cufflinks. It has a flat face with a “whale tail” that flips completely flat against the post. They’re simple, easy to use, and great for any occasion.

Bullet Back

These cufflinks are extremely popular, likely because of their ease of use. While similar in looks to whale back cufflinks, bullet backs have a small cylinder set between two bars which you flip 90 degrees to secure.

Fixed Backing

Fixed backing cufflinks are unlike bullet backs or whale backs in that they have no moving parts. The back—as the name suggests—is fixed, and while it’s saving you an extra step, this does mean it’s a bit harder to insert into the cuff.

Stud or Button Style

With no hinge mechanism and no moving parts, stud or button style cufflinks are very similar to fixed backing cufflinks. However, both ends consist of the same material and design, while fixed backings are typically different on either side.

Chain Link

The most traditional and original of all types, the chain link cufflink has two heads which are connected by a fine chain. This creates a looser fastening than other types, and it also adds decoration on both sides of the buttonholes.


With two heads connected by a soft (usually silk) cord, knotted cufflinks are similar to chain link, with the exception being they’re not made out of metal. While decorative, their unusual appearance makes them better for casual occasions.

Ball Return

Ball returns have various designs, but the back end will always have a curved post with a small, heavy ball. Like chain links, they provide looser fastenings, but they can be expensive depending on the size and weight of the ball.


Contemporary in style, locking cufflinks function as a hinge that is secured via a closer like that of a wristwatch. While there is a learning curve with these cufflinks, once you get the hang of it they’re one of the easiest and most secure kind available.

Now that you know the differences between each type of cufflink, it’s time to buy a pair, so take a look at some of the vintage cufflinks that we at Frank Pollak & Sons offer. Check out our online inventory or contact us for more information.

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