Like everyone else, big-name performers have been hit by the economy. Much attention has been paid to how Hollywood starlets would dress in light of the recession, but until recently, little attention was paid to how rappers would deal with their new economic reality. Many rappers have of course built a great deal of their image on living an affluent lifestyle full of opulent jewels and chains. Even when times were good, I wondered how many of these baubles the rappers actually owned (and how many of them were in fact fashioned out of real diamonds).
Now there is no question that these performers are facing creative bauble downsizing. The Wall Street Journal explored this issue in depth, and noted that many jewelers revealed that rappers were asking them to make their “bling” with less precious stones and metals. There are also reporting that some rappers are even requesting cubic zirconia to create the illusion that they are sporting diamonds, when in fact they are wearing nothing but synthetic faux diamonds.
Keeping-up appearances is no small fete given the size the jewels have amounted to in these past few years. In fact, in 2003, the word “bling” made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary. Some of the ostentatious jewels fashioned as of late include a five pound gold necklace that spells out "CRUNK AIN’T DEAD" with 3,756 round-cut white diamonds that was created for the rapper Lil’ Jon, which made it into the 2007 by Guinness World Records for being the largest diamond pendant on Earth.
Unfortunately due to changing times, even an auction titled “Hip Hop’s Crown Jewels” had to be cancelled because of the lack of demand.
Jeweler Johnny Dang told the WSJ that while the look is still big, people are going with smaller diamonds and lower-karat gold.
That said, rappers are still reluctant to come forth because of the risk of being deemed a fraud. Which means that next time we find ourselves ogling a necklace or pair of diamond earrings that one of the big name rappers are sporting, we should question its authenticity before wishing we could afford the same.