The emergence of custom hip hop jewelry can be traced back to the end of the 90's when they were still called 'bling bling.' Just a few years later, during the 2000's, hip hop artists and rappers were reportedly dropping thousands and even millions of dollars for their custom hip hop jewelry. One of the main reasons why custom hip hop jewelry became a thing is because it symbolizes allegiance to a group-much like a dog tag, only fancier and shinier. There's the Roc-A-Fella group, which was co-founded by rapper and entrepreneur Shawn Carter or Jay Z who gave out exclusive Roc-A-Fell chains to special people, mostly artists who have signed under his label. This includes Cam'ron, Wale, Freeway, and J.Cole. Basketball star Lebron James was also given a chain for his friendship with Jay Z. Mrs. Carter herself, Beyonce, also got her fair share of bling.
Aside from showing their allegiance to hip hop, artists and celebrities also use custom hip hop jewelry to show their status. Everyone can buy a car, a nice, house, or throw parties, but nothing screams 'wealth' like custom hip hop jewelry. It's hard to beat Lil Jon and his Crunk Ain't Dead chain, which was cited in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest diamond chain. Custom hip hop jewelry is not just about the amount of money spent on it but the ingenuity and creativity poured into making it, too. Having custom pieces made just for you shows that you are at a level where you can collaborate with prolific contemporary artists, and thus have the right connections. Take Kanye West and his Murakami Jesus piece-it's just like commissioning Picasso in the 1920's to make you a pendant.
Style and branding are also inherent in custom hip hop jewels. Hip hop artists and rappers express themselves by what they wear and no outfit is complete without custom hip hop jewelry. They use high-quality custom hip hop jewelry to show off their style and retain their brand. For example: Chamillionaire has his famous Chameleon chain, Pharrell's Ice Cream Chains that features his logo, and Akon's Konvict chain. Another great example is Nelly and his grillz. Grillz is a type of jewelry that is worn over the teeth and has been used in various cultures way before the hit song came out in 2005. But after the song, everyone was clamoring for their set of iced out teeth. That's' how powerful hip hop jewelry can be in building and selling a brand.