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From diamonds to big ass chains: A brief history of jewelry in hip-hop

Jewelry has been a sign of opulence and importance for thousands of years, outlasting empires and helping to define new ones.

Over the past few decades, we have seen a change in what type of jewelry people wear every day, from 4 finger rings to the world’s smallest diamond cross. Then hip-hop came along and took it to a whole other level.

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Rings have been a staple piece of opulence and status for thousands of year, first people confirmed to wear rings were Romans, to show they citizenship iron rings were worn by Romans to help identify citizens.

Over the past 200 years, jewelry taste has changed drastically, diamonds became the most popular thing in the western wedding world until the Great Depression when prices plummeted.

In the late 1930’s De Beers started the slogan “Diamonds are Forever” when they needed the price of the precious stone to rise. The campaign was successful as diamonds are the main stone in engagement rings to this day.

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Hip-hop and jewelry have gone hand in hand for 50 years, you look at the first hip-hop artist and they are wearing gold, Kurtis Blow the first person to have a gold hip hop album, he wore 5 small gold chains on his album cover.

A few years later in the 80’s artist started to compete for who could be the most opulent and flex the hardest, artist would wait to see what they had to compete against or come out all in the same night performing with new pieces to stunt with.

The game completely changed in the 90’s when diamonds and pendants started to become the poster board for the label you were loyal to or the gang you stay with.

In the early 2000’s the bigger the chain the better off you were without thinking about the size of the diamonds going into the piece, it was all about the length of the chain and visual size of the pendant.

This spearheaded at the moment when T-Pain showcased a $400,000 chain that says straight up Big Ass Chain.

At that point when you are making something for just the purpose of it, existing people saw the ignorance and lack of taste in flex.

T-Pain went on to take the stones out and melt the chain down to make new jewelry, thank god.

Recently rappers have gone all the way to the limits of what you can wear, in every facet of life, especially with gold and diamonds.

The Migos have set the standard for pendants and rings over the past 5 years with some of the loudest shiniest pieces ever seen.

A big change is the culture surrounding rap jewelry is the stones being flaunted, a huge emphasis has been put on the quality of the stones being set in rings, pendants, chains, etc.

The youngest artist coming up on the internet are spending hundreds of thousands on loads and loads of jewelry, Lil Yachty is the prime example of how loud jewelry has gotten.

Watch Yachty show off his collection of over $2 million in iced out chains watches rings and bracelets.

Rings with big stones have started becoming popular with rappers and media influencers, big stones mean big numbers. Diamonds and gold will always be a part of rap and hip-hop as a way to stunt for clout tokens.

We haven’t even seen the limits of what jewelers can do yet and we are looking forward to seeing what crazy investments rappers will wear on their necks in the next few years.