Looking for Robb Report UK? Click here to visit our UK site.

From Cartier’s Love Bracelet to Louis Vuitton’s Volt, Competition for the Bangle of the Moment Heats Up

Why have just one when you can have them all?

Cartier Love Bangle; Tiffany & Co. Lock Bangle; Louis Vuitton Volt Bangle Cartier; Tiffany & Co.; Louis Vuitton

Look around in any high-end restaurant from Manhattan to Mayfair, Melbourne to Mumbai, and chances are you’ll spot a Love bangle. Cartier’s instantly recognizable design has been a staple on influential wrists since its conception in 1969, having morphed from a token of love worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton to a millennial status symbol. It’s Google’s most-searched piece of jewelry and although Cartier doesn’t release sales figures, it contributes a sizable chunk of parent group Richemont’s $11.6 billion yearly jewelry sales (as of March 2022). No wonder other luxury houses are eyeing the wrist as a strategic area of priority. 

Tiffany & Co. Lock Bangles
Tiffany & Co. Lock Bangles Tiffany & Co.

In September 2022, Tiffany & Co debuted the Lock bracelet: a unisex, padlock-inspired design priced from $6,900 for a plain yellow or rose-gold bangle to $36,000 for a chunkier white-gold, full pavé-diamond version. Promoted on social media on the wrists of influencer couples, it drew inevitable comparisons to Cartier’s Love, which was designed by Aldo Cipullo as a permanent symbol of commitment, requiring two people and a screwdriver to take on or off. (Cipullo reportedly first proposed the design to Tiffany, where he worked in the 1960s, but the house passed.)

Tiffany & Co. Lock Earrings, Pendant and Ring
Tiffany & Co. Lock Earrings, Pendant and Ring Tiffany & Co.

The Lock launch was “hugely successful with our global audience,” says Alexandre Arnault, Tiffany’s Executive Vice President of Product and Communications. “Its modern lines and design make it a very versatile piece that resonates with men and women of all ages.” The house recently launched Lock rings, earrings and pendants, cementing the motif’s position as a contemporary house icon. 

Dior Bois de Rose Bangles

It’s not the only contender to Cartier’s crown. From Dior’s previously open-ended Bois de Rose bracelet, relaunched as a gently undulating closed bangle, to Van Cleef & Arpels’ slender Perlée ‘pearls of gold’ bracelet, and Louis Vuitton’s LV Volt, customers are encouraged to wear their brand allegiance on their wrist. Pomellato launched its Together bangle during Milan Fashion Week in February, while Bulgari’s signature snake is scaled down and pared back in the slim gold Serpenti Viper bangle.

Louis Vuitton Volt Bangle
Louis Vuitton Volt Bangle Louis Vuitton

Unisex, stackable and designed to be worn all day every day, with these bangles brands encourage customers to curate their own ‘#wristparty’, emulating celebrities like Kylie Jenner, who was credited with igniting Gen Z’s love affair with the Love bangle after she posted an Instagram image of her wrist bedecked with more than $50,000 worth of the style.

Van Cleef & Arpels Prelée Bangles

“Bracelets are an ‘easywear’ accessory; new ways of living and working are fueling demand for everyday pieces,” says Jane Collins, Footwear & Accessories Senior Strategist at trend forecasting company WGSN. They also mark the shift towards conscious consumption. “Fleeting fashion trends are no longer a priority: consumers look to products that they can invest in and trade, should they want to.” The buoyant secondary market for Cartier Love bangles is testament to the resale potential of iconic designs.

Cartier Love Bangles
Cartier Love Bangles Cartier

Attention to detail is key when it comes to challenging Cartier’s crown, says Collins. “For 2023 we talk about developing ‘character classics’, where timeless designs are updated with standout features. This combined with clever marketing will ensure success.” Ubiquity, she believes, only boosts desirability. “Brands should be looking to create iconic products that are instantly recognizable.”

Cartier "Juste un Clou" Bangle
Cartier “Juste un Clou” Bangle Cartier

Back in New York in 1971, Aldo Cipullo followed the Love with the Juste un Clou, a solid-gold homage to the humble nail. Cartier relaunched the design in 2012; it has become almost as popular and recognizable as the Love. Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage, says there is no secret recipe for a smash hit.

“Certainly, the Love and Clou share common points: they possess good design, an authenticity that’s deeply Cartier, they are contemporary and symbolic—these are necessary ingredients,” he says. “But the status of these creations went beyond any plan. The public decided they would become such a big hit. You could call it a ‘je ne sais quoi’—we don’t know if it will happen again.”

More Jewelry