So, I’m-a-gettin’ hitched in, what, just less that 6 weeks to a singularly lovely lady. As I determine the proper haute couture for the nuptials, I’ve begun to have fun with one piece in particular. Cuffilnks.
I mean, if you’re going to go Tux (and I do so love a good tuxedo), cufflinks are a must. But what kind of cufflinks should a gentleman marine biologist wear? Why, sea-creature themed, of course. I began my search looking for ascidian themed cufflinks and studs. Sadly, no jeweler, even on etsy, has yet decided to imortalize the beauty of a Ciona intestinalis or the distinctive star-shaped patter of Botryllus schlosseri for one to wear on their French cuffs. So I began to search further afield. I’ll give away the ending right here, I’m going with these urchin cufflinks by Ashley Childs actually cast from urchin tests, but, I thought you all might be interested to see some of the lovely, beautiful pieces I found along the way.
Phylum Echinodermata, Class Echinoidea
While the ones I’m going with are cast from tests, it is not for lack of trying to find cufflinks made from actual tests. I’ve long coveted these made from small urchin tests found washed ashore. Sadly, they are only available in pink, green, and brown, and won’t match anything else color-wise at the wedding. (What, I used to be in theater, so design is very important.)
So, cast or inspired it is. I really liked these urchin-styled cufflinks by David Yurman, but, sadly, silver, which clashes with the purple & gold thing we’re going for. Also, these slightly more abstract urchin ‘links were awesome, but, likewise, silver. (See also this great ring by the same artist).
So, gold (or, rather, plated). I thought these were elegant and lovely, but Tiffany and waaay too pricey for me. Similarly, these were great, and had a maching studset, but, a little plain. So, if I was going to go urchin, I was going to go with the cast piece.
Phylum Echinodermata, Various Classes
That said, I was not quite ready to give up on echinoderms. On a bit of whimsy I tried searching for some Sea Cucumber ones. No dice. Sand dollars turned up a few interesting natural or cast ones. I’ve never studied sand dollars, though, so…I continued looking. What about Pycnopodia? No dice for the multi-armed beast. However, I did turn up some cool Pisaster-like ones as well as a few more abstract. There were even a few made from beach drift (I hope) (and that person’s store is full of similar neat stuff), but nothing really caught me like the urchin test cufflinks.
Phylum Mollusca, Class Gastropoda
What about getting out of Echinoderms all together, and going with mollusks? Surely, there must be many gastropod-inspired cufflinks out there. And there are! Many are just ho-hum plain seashells, though. Some, though, are exquisite, such as these conch shells, which really could do for any whelk biologist. Or these silver lovelies by Danielle Meshorer which reminded me of nothing so much as our Californian Lithopoma. There were also some great ones made from actual shells.
Phylum Mollusca, Class Cephalopoda
Now, like a good nerdy marine ecologist with slightly steampunkish leanings, the question begs: why not cephalopods. Indeed, I just finished reading Kraken, and do annually celebrate Cephalopodmas. A search for squid cufflinks can turn up a lot, but many of them are cameos or kinda kitchy. Instead, what really impressed me in cephalopods was Octopus cufflinks. This particular version with a hole in the head popped up all over the place, and is really rather stylish. Or you can find this set with a matching tie pin. Or even get into something a little more abstract. I liked them, but, eh. As I’ve never studied cephalopods, I felt like I should be true to my roots.
Phylum Arthropoda, Class Malacostraca
I have, however, spend a lot of time with crabs and lobsters. Crabs also made a lot of sense as I am a boy Baltimore bred. The crab cufflinks out there are all very classy, if I do say so. I think my favorites just featured claws. Some where very cool and artsy. Other’s more steampunky. But nothing that really grabbed me. Similarly while there were some wonderful silver and gold lobsters out there (and some quite pricey!), nothing really said, yes, I am what you want on your wrist when you say “I do.”
So, really, it came down to urchins. I mean, nothing says commitment like the commitment of a ravening spiky beast gnawing through an entire kelp forest. That takes desire, work, perseverance, and a lot of love…of kelp. An apt metaphor, no? Well, at least my future wife will get a chuckle out of that one. I hope. And given the elegance, whimsy, and biological accuracy of the urchin test cufflinks, I think it’s where I’m going to go. But for the rest o’ ye, enjoy what I’ve listed here, and if you’ve found anything that you feel is truly amazing, please, post it! Also, I’m still looking for studs…