Bling has always been about drawing attention. From being embroiled in 90s Hip Hop culture, to being a rite of passage for sports stars, and now the style being replicated with modern, innovative jewellery brands, it has never gone out of style – and never stopped acting as an indicator of status.
From ancient civilisations to the modern day celebrities which dominate our social media feeds, jewellery has always been worn to signify power, influence and affluence – the flashier the better. Fast forward from the gold synonymous with Ancient Egyptians to the 70s, and bling became as much about music as it did anything else, peaking in the 90s as a cultural signifier.
For the most prolific jewellers, they became as famous as their clients, with some forging new industries and careers by association. Early Hip Hop artists such as Eric B. and Rakim sported gold chains on their album covers throughout their career, but it was by the 90s that the genre came into its own, when beats got bolder, and so did the bling. It was in this era that bling and Hip Hop became inextricably linked – and perhaps none did it so successfully as Biggie.
A bling connoisseur, maybe the iconic musician’s most famous piece was the Jesus pendant, which ended up being the last chain he wore alive. The piece went on to symbolise Biggie’s power and influence in the Hip Hop and global spheres – being picked up by both Jay-Z and Lil Kim for future album covers. The jeweller in question? Tito – who has gone on to be one of the leading and most respected figures in the field.
Speaking of Lil Kim, she was instrumental in the bling scene in more recent years, rarely making an editorial or visual album appearance without some sort of chain or pendant. Her signature diamond-encrusted “Queen Bee” necklace is one of her most well-known pieces, said to be bought for around $100,000, while her “Lil Kim” chain is worth approximately $18,000.
From one Kim to another – Kim Kardashian recently debuted a new piece on Instagram. Pairing the spell-out KIM chain with a Moncler x Dingyun Zhang puffer, the caption credited fine jeweller Eric Mavachev, also known as Eric Da Jeweler, with the construction of the piece. With her name in pink and white diamonds, and the diamond-encrusted chain adorned with four pink hearts, the piece is likely to have set her back tens, if not hundreds of thousands – proving that trends may change, but bling lives on. At least in the Kardashian world.