Cult Cartier – when jewelry becomes icon

When you think about the 70s, Magpie, what do you have in front of your eyes? Hippies, bell bottom jeans and birth of disco? Yes! For me it was first of all the wonderful music and famous Studio 54, whose hipster atmosphere attracted famous people from Andy Warhol to Diane von Furstenberg. 

Today I want to tell you, Magpie, about how in this atmosphere of rebellion, creativity and freedom was born the icon of today’s goldsmithing – Cartier Juste un Clou jewelry, whose theme has become… a nail. But let’s start from the beginning.

It’s just a nail

Let’s go back to 1917, when Marcel Duchamp gave the world a very important lesson – deciding to present a urinal signed with a name and surname he showed that in general a mere object can become a work of art. A few decades later, Andy Warhol, in his studio called The Factory, begins mass-producing paintings of Campbell’s soup tins and Brillo Box packaging to create a flow of art with a twist – pop art. 

In the 70s, dear Magpie, society turns away from elitism, teenagers listen to Jimmy Hendrix songs, wear flowers in their hair and cropped tops. It was then that Cartier, a brand previously associated with luxury watches and diamonds bought by French elites, London gentlemen, and wealthy maharajahs, introduced in their collections Juste un Clou – jewelry addressed to young, rebellious people. As I wrote before, it doesn’t resemble any of the brand’s original designs.

Introduced in 1971, the bracelet and ring have imitated a bent nail! This is also the name of the collection – “It’s just a nail.”  Cartier’s designers, seeing the changes in society, decide to design jewelry that will fit into pop culture while retaining its luxurious character – contrary to appearances, this bracelet is not just a nail.. 2352 diamonds differentiate it from a regular object. This many stones are in the most expensive Juste un Clou model. 

Unlike jewelry designed to date by a luxury jewelry house, Juste un Clou is raw and massive, completely unlike colorful brooches and intricate Cartier necklaces. But that is why the collection becomes an icon – because it is intriguing and shows that even a mere object can become the object of desire – the brand advertises it with the slogan “When ordinary becomes precious.”

Youth, fun and the moment

You are probably wondering how it happened that the model introduced more than 40 years ago is still a sales hit today. All thanks to well-thought-out brand strategy and continuous refreshing of the product.  Cartier’s  success was that they knew exactly which audience they should direct their jewelry at – young artists, musicians and celebrities, today called it girls and it boys, showed they did not part with bracelets worth thousands of dollars. The nail became synonymous with rebellion and belonging to the most popular social class. The same is true today. No matter if Kylie Jenner goes to a party or walks a dog –Cartier sparkles on her wrist.

This year the brand decided to refresh the cult model of the nail without changing its character or communication. The latest promotional video is as if straight out of the 70s. Music, fast cars, fun and passion. Everything under the cover of youth, beauty and the moment. This is how you build an icon.

Would you, too, fall for the Cartier temptation, Magpie?


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