Tupac Gold, Diamond and Ruby Crown Ring |  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti

Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends

Commemorating its 50th year, hip hop stands as a revolutionary cultural force, captivating global hearts and minds. Beyond music's reach, its distinct style permeates fashion, notably through iconic jewelry trends. Embark on a journey through time with us, exploring rings, chains, necklaces, pendants, and grills – symbols of hip hop's evolution and impact on both culture and style. Join our celebration of five decades of creative brilliance that define hip hop's enduring legacy.


Hip hop, the revolutionary cultural movement that has captivated hearts and minds for half a century, celebrates its 50th anniversary in a blaze of creative glory. Beyond its musical innovations and societal impact, hip hop has infused the world of fashion with its own unique style. In this article, we delve into the iconic jewelry trends that have left an indelible mark on both hip hop and popular culture. Join us on a journey through time as we explore rings, chains, necklaces, pendants, and grills – the jewelry cornerstones that encapsulate the spirit of hip hop's evolution and influence.

Rings: Reflecting Individuality and Power

Fab 5's MTV Ring |  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti


Hip hop rings, with their bold designs and intricate details, serve as wearable symbols of individuality and power. For instance, in 1988, Yo! MTV Raps! launched with Fab 5 Freddy as host. He wanted unique jewelry and teamed up with Tito the Jeweler (Manny), who catered to Hip Hop stars and created custom pieces for them, creating the iconic piece shown above. As hip hop evolved, rings evolved too, becoming more than just accessories; they became statements of identity, unity, and personal triumph. No ring embodies this concept better than Tupac’s Crown Ring.

This iconic ring, adorned with gold, ruby, and diamonds, recently achieved a record-breaking feat at Sotheby's. Sold for an astonishing $1.01 million (and currently in Drake’s ownership), Tupac's Crown Ring became not just a piece of jewelry, but a testament to the enduring influence of hip hop.

This masterpiece is more than a sumptuous blend of precious materials; it represents a celebration of overcoming difficult times. A reflection of Tupac's indomitable spirit, the ring encapsulates the resilience that is at the heart of hip hop culture. Sotheby's states that this crown ring holds the distinction of being the only hip hop artifact to surpass $1 million, making it the most valuable hip hop jewel ever sold at auction.

Tupac's Crown Ring is a profound embodiment of hip hop's journey – from its origins as a creative outlet to its present status as a global cultural phenomenon. It serves as a reminder that hip hop's influence transcends music, permeating the realms of fashion, art, and self-expression.

Tupac Crown Ring White Background|  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti


Chains, Necklaces and Pendants: A Connection to Roots and Ambitions  

Jay Z Cuban Link Chain |  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti

Getty Images

Chains, draped around necks with an air of confidence, have been a staple of hip hop fashion. Take, for example, Biggie Small's Jesus Pendant, which symbolized his pioneering influence and streetwise authenticity in the early days of hip hop.

Biggie Smalls Jesus Pendant  |  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti

Fast forward to the modern era, and artists like Kanye West have redefined chains with unique twists, such as his Horus chain that reflects his interest in ancient Egyptian symbolism. Chains go beyond aesthetics, representing a connection to one's roots and aspirations.

Kanye West Horus Chain |  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti

Getty Images

Hip hop necklaces and pendants are more than just accessories; they're storytellers. Nipsey Hussle, a beloved hip hop artist and activist, often wore a gold chain featuring a pendant of Africa, proudly displaying his heritage. Additionally, the "Dookie Chain," a thick gold rope necklace worn by the legendary hip hop group Run-D.M.C., became a symbol of their trailblazing success and street style in the early days of hip hop. With its distinctive design and bold presence, the "Dookie Chain" conveyed a sense of confidence, breaking free from conventional norms of jewelry. It became a representation of Run-D.M.C.'s authenticity and unapologetic approach to their art.

Run DMC Dookie Chain  |  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti

Sunshine/Rex Shutterstock

Grills and Dental Jewelry: Redefining Confidence

Grills and dental jewelry – a trend that emerged from hip hop's vibrant subculture – have redefined the concept of confidence. Notable figures like Flavor Flav of Public Enemy embraced dental jewelry as a way to stand out and challenge norms. More recently, artists like Travis Scott and A$AP Rocky have sported elaborate grills, pushing boundaries with their daring and innovative designs. Grills challenge societal norms, inviting wearers to embrace their unique identities while leaving an unforgettable mark on fashion and culture.

ASAP Rocky's Grills |  Hip Hop is 50 - An Exploration of Hip Hop Jewelry Trends | Saratti

Mike Miller

Influence on Popular Culture

The influence of these iconic jewelry pieces on popular culture is immeasurable. Hip hop's embrace of lavish jewelry shattered traditional notions of luxury, democratizing opulence and empowering individuals from all walks of life to express themselves through fashion. From music videos to red carpets, these pieces have become synonymous with hip hop's larger-than-life persona, driving trends, and inspiring artists and enthusiasts alike to push boundaries and redefine the status quo.


As hip hop celebrates 50 years of innovation and creativity, its impact on the world of fashion and jewelry remains undeniable. Rings, chains, necklaces, pendants, and grills have evolved from mere accessories to powerful symbols of identity, ambition, and empowerment. These iconic masterpieces continue to shape not only hip hop culture but also influence the broader tapestry of popular culture, reminding us that fashion can be a canvas for self-expression and a reflection of the times we live in.


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