How To Spot A Real Cartier Juste un Clou
While it may seem like “just a nail,” Cartier’s Juste un Clou bracelet has been prized for its minimalist-chic 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 has even had parties thrown in its honor.
Like with any coveted luxury item, however, it goes without saying that the Juste un Clou bracelet’s success has inspired counterfeiters across the globe.
Good thing we’re here to help to help you discern the real from the fake. Read on as we tap the help of TRR’s own Fine Jewelry & Watch Valuation Manager Meredith Derman for tips on spotting the real deal—and a deep dive into the storied collection’s history.
The Historical Tapestry of Cartier’s Juste un Clou Collection
The Juste un Clou collection’s history and design carry a weight far greater than its seemingly unassuming form. Designer Aldo Cipullo was the man behind the iconic Juste un Clou pieces (as well as the timeless Cartier LOVE bracelet), and in his hands, even the most common hardware essential was transformed into something undeniably chic and innovative.
Cipullo’s inspiration for the original bracelet was elegantly simple: Draw from the image of a nail—a fundamental hardware element—and transform it into a piece of jewelry that embodies his signature ethos of minimalism.
Debuted in 1971, the Juste un Clou bracelet not only encapsulated Cipullo’s fascination with screws, nuts, and bolts—the designer once said that the hardware store was his second home—but also epitomized the rebellious spirit of New York City during that era.
“Cartier originally released the collection in the ‘70s and at the time, the design symbolized the rebellious spirit of New York,” says Derman.
The Cartier Juste un Clou Collection’s Evolution and Rebirth
The Juste un Clou collection experienced a remarkable rebirth in 2012, as Cartier commemorated its 165th anniversary with a compelling exhibit held at the Cartier Maison on the famed Fifth Avenue. This tribute not only celebrated the legacy of Aldo Cipullo but also marked the genesis of a new chapter for the collection. Cartier’s homage to Cipullo’s work culminated in the introduction of an entire line of jewelry inspired by the original Juste un Clou pieces, solidifying the collection’s status as an enduring icon that defies trends and the constraints of time.
The year 2017 witnessed Cartier’s fervent commitment to the Juste un Clou collection’s evolution as the collection expanded to encompass an array of offerings, ranging from gold and diamond rings to necklaces, earrings, and even cufflinks. The expansion not only reaffirmed the design’s captivating charm, but also empowered enthusiasts to experience its uniqueness in a multitude of forms.
Significantly, distinguishing between pre-2017 and post-2017 models becomes paramount: 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,” says Derman. She adds that it’s crucial that the closures correspond to the age of the model—and that, of course, it’s functional.
“Additionally, on Juste un Clou bracelets with diamonds,” Derman says. “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,” says Derman.
The Excellent Craftsmanship of the Cartier Juste un Clou Collection
When inspecting a Juste un Clou bracelet or ring, the first impression is always most important.
“Once I get a good sense of its weight, I inspect the metal,” says Derman. “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, according to Derman, are the differences between the two sizes of Juste un Clou bracelets—the small and the original. The smaller version is designed for ease of wear, offering malleability for effortless slip-on style. In contrast, the original-sized bracelet boasts a distinctive hinged closure, catering to both aesthetics and functionality.
Cartier Juste un Clou Materials
“When authenticating, we look for clues in materials used, such as the weight of the bracelet and diamond quality,” says Derman. “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.”
According to Derman, Cartier will only accept diamonds with a high clarity range, which signifies the absence of slight inclusions visible to the naked eye. These diamonds are characterized by exceptional clarity, and 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. This is a red flag that sets a counterfeit—which obviously fails to replicate Cartier’s genuinely intricate craftsmanship—apart from the real thing.
Cartier Juste un Clou Stamps of Authenticity
The meticulous rendering of expected signatures and hallmarks further bolsters the credibility of genuine Cartier pieces.
“When looking for brand identifiers, I expect the item to be stamped with the brand name, size, serial number and purity mark,” says Derman. “The stamping should be clearly visible, straight and evenly spaced.” The purity mark, “Au750,” bears significance derived from the periodic table – “Au” represents gold, while “750” indicates the gold content equivalent to 75%, translating to 18K gold.
“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,” Derman says. “It is essential that all expected signatures and hallmarks are present and properly rendered.”
From the iconic bracelet to the exquisite rings and necklaces in Cartier’s Juste un Clou collection, each piece tells a story of artistry and craftsmanship that spans generations. It’s more than jewelry—and authenticity is more than a label.
Of course, TRR has an extremely thorough and rigorous approach to authentication, which has proven instrumental in combating counterfeit attempts. Shop TRR’s selection of Cartier Juste un Clou pieces with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re purchasing verifiably authentic luxury—a timeless, real work of art with a rich history and vision behind it.
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