How to Spot Real Cartier Juste Un Clou

Words by Jody Hume | 8.9.19
While it may seem like “just a nail,” Cartier’s Juste un Clou bracelet has been prized for its superstar design for decades. The bracelet has graced the wrists of celebrities since the ‘70s, multiplied into a fully fledged collection of rings, necklaces and earrings and even had parties thrown in its honor. Unfortunately, the Juste un Clou bracelet’s success has inspired counterfeiters across the globe to copy the style. Read on as Fine Jewelry & Watch Valuation Manager Meredith Derman dives into the collection’s history and dishes all the details for spotting the real deal.
What can you tell us about the history of Cartier’s Juste un Clou collection?
Designer Aldo Cipullo was the man behind the iconic Juste un Clou pieces (as well as the timeless Cartier LOVE bracelet). Inspired by “just a nail,” the bracelet was originally released in 1971 and perfectly embodied Cipullo’s minimalist style. The designer had an affinity for all things screws, nuts and bolts, and once said that the hardware store was his second home. In the hands of Aldo Cipullo, even the most common hardware essential was transformed into something irresistible. Cartier originally released the collection in the ‘70s and at the time, the design symbolized the rebellious spirit of New York.
When was the reissue of the “Juste un Clou” bracelet, and how have the details changed since its initial creation?
To commemorate Cartier’s 165th anniversary in 2012, Cartier opened an exhibit at the Cartier Maison on Fifth Avenue. The focus was on Cipullo’s work, and Cartier released an entire collection based on the original Juste un Clou pieces. In 2017, Cartier continued to build upon its Juste un Clou collection and included gold and diamond rings, necklaces, earrings and even cufflinks to the line. 
Juste un Clou pieces produced pre-2017 in the original size will have a keyhole closure. This applies to Juste un Clou bracelets with and without diamonds. On post-2017 models, we expect to see a round closure versus a keyhole closure. It is crucial that the closures correspond to the age of the model and that they are functional.
Additionally, on Juste un Clou bracelets with diamonds, we look at the bracelet’s pointed nail tip.  “Half diamond” bracelets should always include diamonds that weigh half a carat altogether, hence the name. On pre-2017 styles we look for a diamond count of four, while on post-2017 styles, the nail tip should have a five-diamond count instead.
What elements of craftsmanship do you expect to see in a Cartier Juste un Clou bracelet or ring?
RealStyle | Cartier Juste un Clou

When inspecting a Juste un Clou bracelet or ring, the first impression is always important. Once I get a good sense of its weight, I inspect the metal. Does it test for 18K gold? Are the diamonds of Cartier quality? Is the weight of the bracelet correct for its size? Are the serial numbers in the correct order? We even go so far as to scrutinize the maker’s mark to ensure that the design is correct. 
Also important to note are the differences between the two sizes of Juste un Clou bracelets—the small and the original. The small bracelet is malleable, allowing you to easily slip it on, while the original size of the Juste un Clou bracelet has a hinged closure.
What materials are most frequently used for Juste un Clou pieces?
When authenticating, we look for clues in materials used, such as the weight of the bracelet and diamond quality. The bracelet or ring will be crafted in either rose, yellow or white 18K gold. When Juste un Clou pieces feature diamonds, I want to ensure that the stones are of Cartier’s standards and feature colorless diamonds. Cartier will only accept diamonds with a high clarity range, which signifies the absence of slight inclusions visible to the naked eye. The stones should be nicely set and evenly spaced. Some counterfeits, when inspected with a loupe, have revealed “included” diamonds, with stones that all differ in size.
What kinds of brand identifiers or signatures does Cartier use for this collection?
When looking for brand identifiers, I expect the item to be stamped with the brand name, size, serial number and purity mark. The stamping should be clearly visible, straight and evenly spaced. 
Au750 refers to the metal content. Au is the symbol for gold on the periodic table, and 750 indicates that the item is 75% gold, which equates to 18K. We will always test the metal and record our findings regardless of the fact that the piece is stamped with the metal purity mark, since this has helped us combat counterfeits in the past. It is essential that all expected signatures and hallmarks are present and properly rendered.
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