YGWYPF: Cufflink Edition

Let’s try to popularize a new acronym: YGWYPF. You Get What You Pay For. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Let me state unequivocally at the outset that, generally speaking, in my experience buying and selling menswear & accessories, "You Get What You Pay For" holds true. I can’t speak to cars, watches, wine, jewelry, or any other number of industries, but as a general rule, I’ve found it to hold up well in this business. And two experiences over the last 3 days reminded me that I should write about it.

Two nights ago, a friend needed to borrow some formal accessories. He’s not particularly formal, so he wanted to borrow a pair of Lego man cufflinks I bought off Etsy.com a few months back. As I grabbed them out of my cufflink case, I noticed one of the backs had already come off, rendering the pair unwearable. It was glued, as one would expect in this case, but I’ve only ever worn them once. Seriously. Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t expect "heirloom quality" cufflinks for $20, but there’s a lot of space between "Heirloom" and "Disposable." I’m lucky the back fell off while resting in my case, because if it came undone during the day, it’s likely I wouldn’t notice until Lego man was lost and probably chewed up by a stray dog.

Price of SilverMeanwhile, over the weekend, I visited my favorite taxidermy store, Paxton Gate, and noticed they had a drawer full of ammonite pieces for sale. One of our cufflink vendors, spIvey, makes beautiful cufflinks out of dinosaur bone, meteorite, dolerite, ammonite, etc. (full disclosure: I own a pair of ammonite which I happen to be wearing today). Her cufflinks are not inexpensive, so I was a little shocked to find so many pieces of ammonite at a very low price. As I’ve since learned, ammonite is not rare so much as it’s just really, really old (the youngest pieces are 65 million years old). The cufflink price is largely driven by the Sterling that comprises the setting, as well as the fact that each pair is set by hand…in the U.S. of A. And it’s true — if you look at the cufflinks, you see these 4 little Sterling claws holding each piece of ammonite securely in place. Could she make cheaper cufflinks? Sure!

  • She could make her settings in base metal and bring the price down. But that’s not her style, and it’s not ours. So she uses Sterling. The price of Sterling has doubled in the last year.
  • She could have them made overseas and maybe save a few bucks, but potentially sacrifice quality. And in fact, this was her experience with some vendors she worked with previously.

So…are there menswear items that might be overpriced? No doubt. But those are the exceptions, not the rule. If you take the time to understand why something costs what it costs, you’ll usually find that YGWYPF. 

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