Aldo Cipullo, Creator of Cartier's Most Iconic Design
Born in 1942 in Naples, Italy, Aldo Cipullo began his jewelry career early by apprenticing in his father's costume jewelry shop. In 1959, he immigrated to America to study jewelry design in Manhattan's School of Visual Arts, and after some brief stints with famed designers David Webb and Tiffany & Co., Cipullo entered into his most prolific relationship with Cartier in 1969.
During his tenure at Cartier, Cipullo designed one of Cartier's most iconic pieces, the Love Bracelet. Cipullo drew inspiration from medieval aesthetics for a number of his designs, including the methods he used to set gems in gold. The idea behind the Love Bracelet was partially inspired by medieval chastity belts. Cipullo saw the bracelet as a means to symbolize everlasting, unbreakable commitments, and therefore, the bracelets were worn close to the skin and secured with a screw mechanism only a special tool could undo.
This screw motif can now be found in a number of Cartier's iconic pieces, including the Santos watch. At the time of its design, jewelry was mainly worn to highlight fine, dressy outfits for special occasions, but the semi-permanent nature of the Love Bracelet normalized wearing fine pieces with casual attire.
Cipullo's other contribution at Cartier was Juste un Clou--or, "just a nail." Many of Cipullo's designs highlighted the beautiful nature of everyday objects by recontextualizing them as fine jewelry. Cipullo made bracelets, earrings, rings, and lapel pins from his iconic nail design, and despite the simplicity of the design, there is a current version bedazzled with 26.73 carats of diamonds currently valued at over $300,000.
Cipullo was presented a Coty Award for his contributions in 1974, and after a few other associations with brands such as Trifari, died in 1984. Few luxury designers created such iconic designs that defied the cycle of fashion and still maintain such popularity and renown as Cipullo, and the staying power of his most iconic piece should prove to stand the test of time.