When the first introduction of the “Rap” style hit the music industry, few would have predicted that the impact of “Hip-Hop” culture would go mainstream. But it definitely has done exactly that, as seen by the increasing number of celebrities showing off their “Bling-Bling”, the standard term for hip hop jewelry. The upsurge in popularity of this particular style of jewelry, owes its claim to fame to the recording artists whose reputation was built on sporting expensive, flashy rings, pendants and earrings. In fact, this term has become so widely used, that the Oxford Dictionary has included it, along with “jiggy” and “phat”. Credits for this term go the Hip-Hop artist B.G, who recorded a 1999 hit song that brought “Bling-Bling” as a popular catchphrase into the mainstream.
There is no doubt about the broad appeal of the hip-hop jewelry style, it plays well on our human desire to be seen and by extension, when you have “bling-bling” it also refers to obvious and appealing wealth. While hip-hop fashion, the distinctive style of dress originating from urban culture, is only one element of this lifestyle, the attention given to the jewelry of this movement has far outpaced that of the clothes.
But truth be told, the wearing of large, extravagant jewelry was popular with artists like Elvis Presley and Tom Jones, a long time before hip-hop became the current cultural phenomenon, but it has completely altered the jewelry market of today. Because fans want to emulate their favorite celebrities and jewelry has always been at the top of the list when it comes to making a big impression. In today’s age of instant information, the hip-hop jewelry scene changes as fast as the record chart hits and the reputation of many celebrities can be boosted or deflated by who is wearing the most fashionable “Bling-Bling”.
There is an abundance of designs to choose from when it comes to hip-hop jewelry, all made with one point in mind; to catch the eye and attract attention. “Bling-Bling” can be seen on celebrities when they appear in music videos, on the catwalk or on the red carpet. From the late-1990s, hip-hop artists began wearing platinum jewelry, adding more than a little flash to their marketing material. After platinum replaced gold as the most popular precious metal in hip-hop fashion, fans and artists began to compete to see who could wear the most outrageous “bling-bling” of platinum often with a dazzling display of diamonds. Hip-Hop performers began to take their bragging rights directly from who was wearing the most platinum jewelry.
Now with an ever growing community on the internet, the mainstream acceptance of hip-hop jewelry is confirmed. There are hip-hop jewelry web sites offering completely ‘iced-out’ bling-bling; rings, bracelets or watches, encrusted to the hilt with real or faux diamonds. And the latest money daze of hip-hop jewelry is the so-called ‘spinner’ watches and rings. The influence of hip-hop has even extended to the world of dentistry; platinum fronts are in demand, some going as far as to replace their own teeth with an entire mouthful of permanent platinum teeth. Others who have opted for a little more modest display have their dentists create platinum grills-removable metal jeweled teeth coverings.