History of the Hero: The Cartier Love Bracelet

Words by Jessica Davis

Everything to know about the bangle, from its history to its A-list fans

There are certain very special pieces of designer jewellery that will truly stand the test of time. From Bulgari’s Serpenti and Chanel’s pearl earrings to Van Cleef & Arpels’ Alhambra talisman, when it comes to building a jewellery box that will serve you well for a lifetime, you can rely on these styles for never going out of style.

Another piece of iconic designer jewellery that has remained popular for decades, often passed down through generations, and unlikely ever not to be a fashion favourite, is the Cartier Love bracelet.

One of the most searched-for pieces of jewellery on Google, the Love bangle’s popularity continues to grow thanks to its easy-to-wear nature and special romantic underlying message.

The Cartier Love bracelet history

Cartier Love Bracelet

Courtesy of Cartier

Created in 1969 by Italian jewellery designer Aldo Cipullo for Cartier, the bracelet was born as a unisex ‘modern handcuff’. Cartier made the radical decision to leave the functional or decorative screws visible, similar to the Santos de Cartier watch, which has featured them on its face since 1904.

Its oval shape means it sits tight around the wearer’s wrist, that’s physically screwed on to signify the permanence of true love, since two people are needed to secure the screws. Ever since then, the Love bracelet has become a symbol of love and commitment due to this design.

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Why is the Cartier Love bracelet so iconic?

Over 50 years later since its debut, the bracelet is just as popular (if not more so) today. It is believed that New York hospitals keep mini Love screwdrivers on the wards, in case they need to remove the bracelet in an emergency.

JEREMY MOELLER//GETTY IMAGES

What is the secret to its longevity success? Well, it’s all down to the design, according to Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage. “For me, the Love bracelet is a success worldwide since it was created because of a combination of many different dimensions – first design, and second, symbolism. The design is linked to its meaning, because the screw, is the meaning of the object and the symbolic value is immediately visible through the very simple idea,” he explains. “The Love bracelet has become a permanent staple in modern style.”

Who wears it?

When the Love bracelet first came out, it’s thought that Cartier gifted pairs to some of the world’s most famous couples during the 20th century, from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen to Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti.

Meghan wearing a Cartier Love bracelet on-stage at the 2020 Invictus Games
MAX MUMBY/INDIGO//GETTY IMAGES

Nowadays, the Cartier Love bracelet is seen on the wrists of many famous celebrities, the most stylish of the fashion crowd and even royalty, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sporting matching Love bracelets on the cover of TIME magazine in 2020, while Meghan has been spotted wearing hers on numerous occasions over the years.

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Where to buy the Cartier Love bracelet collection

You can invest in a Love bracelet directly from Cartier (choose between white, yellow or rose gold), or through most major designer retailers across the globe including Harrods and Selfridges. You can also pick up some spectacular vintage and one-of-a-kind options from the likes of Vestiaire CollectiveFarfetch and 1st Dibs. The Cartier Love style also comes in ring and earring form to complete your collection.

How to care for your Cartier Love bracelet

Of course, whenever you invest in a forever piece – whether it’s clothing or jewellery – it’s important to know how to correctly store and look after it to ensure it stands the test of time. Here, see how to keep your beloved accessory in perfect condition, according to the experts at Cartier.

Storing your bracelet

It sounds obvious, but you should avoid wearing your bracelet anywhere it may get wet or scratched, such as at the beach, the pool or while you’re playing sports. It’s also wise to avoid wearing it in intense heat, as well as close to sources of radioactivity, like an X-ray.

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Pieces of jewellery become scratched when they come into contact with one another, so we recommend you store them individually in the Cartier case that you were given at the time of purchase.

Cleaning your bracelet

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Firstly, your jewellery should be cleaned regularly. You can do this yourself at home: brush the jewellery delicately with a very soft small brush in lukewarm soapy water, then carefully rinse it in lukewarm water and wipe it with a soft cloth. Once a year, leave your pieces of jewellery at a Cartier boutique to have them checked, cleaned and revitalised.

You can also use the polishing service from Cartier, which will help restore the original shine and brilliance of your piece without altering its shape. Nevertheless, given that the removal of a fine layer of metal is involved, Cartier recommends you do not have this service carried out more than twice in the lifetime of a piece of jewellery made of white or yellow gold. It’s also worth noting that polishing cannot remove any scratches that are too deep in the metal.

This article originally appeared in harpersbazaar.com/uk