Love was most definitely the drug at the height of the hippie era in 1969 when Aldo Cipullo designed the now iconic Cartier Love bracelet, tapping into the love-in zeitgeist and appealing to the new generation of style-savvy New Yorkers who were immediately charmed by its modern aesthetic. The unisex piece resonated with a return to simplicity of form and feeling, free from unnecessary artifice, a perfect symbol of love for the revolution generation.
Unlike a traditional bracelet, which would usually be slipped over the hand or fastened around the wrist, the Love bracelet can only be opened with the turn of a screwdriver once it has snapped shut. ‘The screw motif has its own messages,’ says a spokesperson for Cartier International. ‘It’s about rules and secrets, excesses from the most tender to the most extreme, from spark to total promise.’
Cartier originally instigated a policy whereby customers could not buy a love bracelet for themselves, only for their beloved. The special screwdriver which corresponds to each bracelet also comes in the form of a necklace, allowing the bracelet to be ‘locked’ onto one person while the ‘key’ is worn around the neck of the other as a symbol of commitment and undying love.
The flat bangle consists of two semi-circles which join into a perfect circle that evokes the unending, eternal nature of true love. The lack of a clasp means there is nothing to break the line or the flow of the design, giving it a seamless quality that instantly made this bangle a modern classic. ‘This bracelet is distinctively Cartier, a rallying cry for those in the know,’ explains the Cartier spokesperson. ‘Love has always had its jewels and spoken the language of jewellery.’
The bracelet, like even the most enduring love affairs, has always been about reinvention as well as timeless design. A diamond-studded version was introduced in 1979, followed by a ring, cufflinks and earrings.
Today, in the prestigious Cartier boutiques across Europe and the world, there is also a watch version of the bracelet as well as a leather string offering with charms, and necklaces featuring interlinking flat rings bearing the famous Love motifs. Cartier’s extra-wide ceramic cuffs, interlocking gold bracelets and cuffs set with diamonds offer an extravagant reinterpretation of the much-loved flat bangle.
Aficionados of the celebrated bracelet have included such tumultuous celebrity couples as Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen, Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and, of course, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who have all added to the Love bracelet’s mystique and prestige, lending a seal of approval from wearers that range from royalty to rock stars.
Today, as in 1969, the Love bangle is unmatched as a talismanic statement of true passion. Its allure lies in its heritage as much as in its undeniably contemporary approach and design. It is a way to seal that most unsealable of passions, for those who are addicted to love.