Jewelry and hip hop have long gone together like macaroni and cheese. Rappers in the 80s like your Slick Ricks and Run DMC wore heavy gold chains referred to as dookie-rope chains, while others stacked chains to show their financial standing during the time. Simple rings transformed into elaborate four-finger ones.
By the 90s, hip-hop had gone mainstream and chain trend evolved to wearing Cuban links, platinum necklaces, and pendants that made them standout more. Hip hop jewelry was iced down with tiny diamonds stones (known as pave). And by the turn of the millennium, the platinum-diamond-sporting thug was ubiquitous, making their pieces (in B.G.'s immortal words) "bling bling." Rappers started rocking platinum to add even more flash. What followed was nothing short of a platinum arms race were the person with the least ice was the loser.
As rap fashion progressed into the 2000s, rap stars were the talk du jour. To the pop world who were recently awakened to hip-hop, rappers did more to identify themselves by wearing medallions that represented indie rap labels, rap monikers, religion, sports, and cartoons, all illustrated with diamonds and other precious stones. The classic gold tooth cap was swapped out for a mouthful of gold grills. Pave soon gave way to more significant-sized stones.
This was around the same time when Nelly dropped “Grillz” and the compulsion to flash spread to the world of dentistry. Soon rappers began sporting mouthfuls of precious metals and stones. Some even went as far as replacing their actual teeth for platinum ones. Others who weren't in the market for a permanent set of diamond choppers opted for cheaper, removable gold bottom grill or rose gold grill options. As you can imagine grillz are nothing new either. Grillz were worn as a symbol of high status up until 100 AD throughout various cultures. Nowadays everyone from Kanye West and A$AP Rocky to Kylie Jenner and Miley Cyrus wear variants of these ancient grillz. But jewelry in hip-hop isn't strictly for flash.
This infatuation with flash spilled over into the 2000’s and soon, rappers were going crazy with it. Different style pendants and chains have also been used to showcase rap allegiances and label loyalties. Bad Boy, Roc-A-Fella and Death Row are perhaps best known for this but even today you’ll see it. OVO affiliated artists sport simple owl pendants while members of Meek Mill's camp rock elaborate Dream Chaser pendants.
When examining the origin of gold teeth, flashy chains, grillz and other jewelry in hip-hop, one thing remains clear: what they’re meant to symbolize. Status. Although hip hop brought flashy jewelry to the mainstream, artists and athletes across all genres and sports can be seen rocking them (i.e., Olympian Ryan Lochte's USA inspired grillz).
Today, we rock our jewelries too. We want others to know what we love, our clout, and what we represent as people. If you feel like you need representation or you want to get your first jewelry, see the latest hip hop jewelry designs at iceversa.com, where quality meets service. ICE VERSA offers the latest in urban style hip hop jewelry including chains, rings, earrings, bracelets, grillz, and watches.