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An Artfully Bold Bracelet

By Guan Tan

The 170 year-old Parisian luxury house is bringing back its Juste un Clou bracelets this April.
 
Cartier
The 170 year-old Parisian luxury house is bringing back its Juste un Clou bracelets this April.

Aldo Cipullo lived in Manhattan, New York. He was born in 1936, to a father who ran a jewellery factory in Florence Italy. At 23 years old, he left for New York City. Ten years later he would walk through the doors of Cartier’s Fifth Avenue flagship to design two most distinguishable pieces for the Parisian luxury house. 

Felicia YapAldo Cipullo pictured in the 1970s with a wooden human figurine in hand.
Aldo Cipullo pictured in the 1970s with a wooden human figurine in hand.

The year he joined, Cipullo came up with what would be, and still is the best-selling piece in Cartier’s history. The original Love bracelet was hand wrought in 18k gold, hinged on one side, while on the other sits a minute lock fastened only by a special vermeil screwdriver. 

It wasn’t designed for one pair of hands. You’ll need a pair to hold the bracelet in place, whilst turning the little screwdriver. And another pair of hands stretched out, waiting for a promise of love to be locked away. 

Felicia YapCartier Love bracelet, released in 1969 and designed by Aldo Cipullo, requires a giver to clasp and fasten the bracelet on its receiver.
Cartier Love bracelet, released in 1969 and designed by Aldo Cipullo, requires a giver to clasp and fasten the bracelet on its receiver.

Two years later, he followed up with an insolent reincarnation of the Love bracelet. Cipullo brazenly christened it Juste un Clou, literally Just a Nail. A single nail, slithering around an imaginary wrist. The Clou properly condensed the reigning spirit of late 1960s New York art into one, singular gold nugget. A tongue-in-cheek, satirical take on contemporary art – and quite similar to the values of Pop Art –, Cipullo took a seemingly useless item and placed it on pedestal. 

He had the nails cast in solid 18k gold, and hand pulled into shape. 

Felicia YapThe original Juste un Clou ring, released in a collection alongside the bracelet in 1971.
The original Juste un Clou ring, released in a collection alongside the bracelet in 1971.

Cipullo passed on in 1984, at a tender 42 years old in a hospital in New York after two episodes of heart attack. He left behind Cartier Love, Clou, and Menotte designs. All three held up against the test of time. 

“Design has to be part of function,” Cipullo told The New York Times prior to his death in 1984. “That’s the secret of success. When you have function and design, married together, you always have a successful item.” 

Cartier is relaunching Cipullo’s Juste un Clou this April. It comes in several translations – a wider bracelet, a longer and artfully curved nail to sit comfortably on the neck, in yellow gold, pink gold, white gold, and paved with diamonds. 

Juste un Clou is available here.