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The History of the Cartier Love Bracelet

Jul 23, 2021

The History of the Cartier Love Bracelet

Have you ever heard of a bracelet that locks? No, not with a clasp or a hook. Cartier’s Love bracelet uses tiny screws that join the bottom and top halves. Inspired by the free love movement in 1970s New York, the bracelet is meant to ask: how far would you go for love? Given that the only way you can remove the bracelet is by using a Cartier-designed screwdriver, it reminds the wearer that love is not meant to be worn lightly.

Originally designed by an Italian jewelry designer named Aldo Cipullo, the bracelet is a unisex piece with tiny gold screws. Cipullo was inspired by visits to the hardware store, which led to the distinctive round screws that decorate the Love bracelet. After previewing the prototype from Cipullo, who had previously designed for Tiffany and David Webb, Cartier purchased the prototype. The bracelet — and later, collection — is considered to be the maison’s most successful line. 

Image: Assouline 1970

When the bracelet first came out, Cartier gifted pairs of them to some of the most famous couples of the 20th century, such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen. There are rumors that Cartier once prohibited customers from buying Love bracelets for themselves, with a policy stating the bracelets could only be purchased by couples. These days, that’s no longer the case — in fact, we often have Cartier Love bracelets in stock at Samuelson’s as they’re a favorite of ours for buying and selling! 

Cipullo once shared in an interview that the bracelet combined two tenets of his work – design and function. ‘When you have function and design, married together, you always have a successful item.” Twining function and design together, he created a work of art that brings together another pairing — that of love. And like love, the bracelet can be worn daily.

Speaking of daily wearing, the Love bracelet also changed the way we look at fashion and jewelry. Jewelry used to be worn to match an outfit or an occasion. The bracelet was the first significant piece of jewelry to suggest that it could be worn dressed up, dressed down, nowhere, and everywhere. Earlier versions of the bracelet featured gold, and ten years after the original was designed, Cartier introduced a diamond-studded Love bracelet. 

Today, you can get the Love bracelet in yellow, white, and rose gold, with or without diamonds or gemstones. It also now comes standard with a serial number, mainly because it has become such a popular piece of jewelry that counterfeiters began creating their own knockoff versions! To verify a Love bracelet today, it should come standard with its own screwdriver and certificate of authentication.

And these days, there’s no need to have a partner to lock you in. The bracelet has moved away from its original concept of eternal romantic love to love however it may come: personal achievement, the birth of a child, a milestone occasion. 

As Cartier says, “Lock in your love” — and check out our current collection to see if there’s a Love bracelet that’s right for you.

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