History of Hip Hop Jewelry (bling bling)

August 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Hip hop jewelry has been around for a few decades now, enabling the wearer to draw attention to their style and iced out baubles. In the 80s, heavy chunky gold pieces were the accessories of choice for the hip hop generation. Specifically, heavy gold chains for men and large gold hoop earrings for women set the pace for hip hop bling.

Performers such as Kurtis Blow and Big Daddy Kane helped popularize gold necklaces and other such jewelry, and female rappers such as Roxanne Shanté and the group Salt-N-Pepa helped popularize oversized gold door-knocker earrings. The heavy jewelry was suggestive of prestige and wealth…

In the mid- to late 1990s, platinum replaced gold as the metal of choice in hip hop fashion. Artists and fans alike wore platinum (or silver) jewelry, often embedded with diamonds. Juvenile, and The Hot Boys were largely responsible for this trend. Platinum fronts also became popular; Cash Money Records executive/rapper Brian “Baby” Williams has an entire mouthful of permanent platinum teeth. Others have fashioned grills, removable metal jewelled teeth coverings. With the advent of the Jewellery culture, the turn of the century established luxury brands made inroads into the hip hop market, with brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and 212 Diamond City making appearances in hip hop videos and films. — Wikipedia

To paraphrase the author of “Bling Bling”, iced out jewelry was a way for these fledgling celebrities to announce to the world: “I’ve made it. I’m successful.” With America’s history of slavery and discrimination, some of which is still alive today, it was a way for the African American community to boldly announce their arrival and accomplishments. Jewelry was no longer just for successful white men and women, it was a symbol of making it big, and the rap stars of yesteryear created the trend of hip hop jewelry that continues to this day.

Nowadays the hip hop bling trend has evolved into iced out chains, large pendants, diamond stud earrings, and iced-out watches. Hip hop jewelry has moved away from the chunky rope chains in the 80s to more subdued, but brighter iced out pieces with more diamonds and shine. Adding diamonds to luxury watches such as Rolexes and Audemars became the hot new thing.

As people change and evolve, so too do trends in fashion and jewelry. The history of hip hop and what the jewelry represents is not lost in this day and age. Hip hop jewelry is stronger and fiercer than ever thanks to the style and rap icons of today.