When you think of hip-hop, who comes to mind? Chances are, you’re thinking of personalities like Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, or Jay-Z. And while all of these artists have different tones and lyrical styles, there is one thing that unites them all: fresh, icy jewelry.
And considering how much fame and success most mainstream rappers now have, wanting to be just like them is natural. After all, their style is unmatched, and those six-figure diamond chains exude confidence, excellence, and prestige.
So if you want to take the leap into the world of men's jewelry, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a man’s guide to everything you need to know about men's hip-hop jewelry.
Why Wear Jewelry?
Jewelry has long been considered a female-specific accessory. But especially in recent years, men have begun experimenting with pieces more often than not. We’re transitioning into a society where gender is much more than just “he” and “she,” so don’t let outdated stereotypes keep you from expanding your ability to express yourself.
You can only do so much with pants, shoes, and shirts. Your wardrobe only has a set number of combinations that can work, and you’re probably going to feel stale and bored after a while. By wearing jewelry, you’ll never need to worry about wearing the same outfit again because you can experiment until your heart’s content.
Not to mention, jewelry is a great way to symbolize wealth and status. This is why most of the biggest rappers in the game drop hundreds of thousands on their giant pendants, as it helps set them above the competition. Iced out chains, bracelets, and rings can give you a high-class look that people will respect.
And last but not least, it lets you add a personal identity to your look as a whole. With endless different variations, you’re bound to find something that speaks to who you are. And on top of that, with new jewelry customization options, a truly distinct appearance is now very much possible.
Starting Small: Rings
If you’re a man who wants to start wearing bling but has some hesitations about where to begin, there’s nothing better than starting small. Rings are important accessories that can make a huge impact, but they’re small enough that they won’t completely revolutionize your look.
But even if you’re a ring expert at this point, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends. As the COVID-19 pandemic starts to dwindle and bars, clubs, or restaurants start to re-open, there’s a huge emphasis on being bold.
This is to make up for all of the time lost during the pandemic itself, so fashion trends are heading towards bigger, bulkier pieces that are sure to stand out once we all get out of the house. This means you want rings that are fully iced out, preferably with single high carat gems as the centerpiece. If it feels like it’s too much, it’s probably just right.
If you want to feel just like a hip-hop icon, be sure to wear multiple rings at the same time, including pinky rings and thumb rings. Rappers often go all out on rings because that’s what you’ll see when they hold up microphones during performances.
Ramping It Up: Bracelets and Watches
When it comes to hand accessories, it’s usually a good idea to pair rings with another piece of jewelry, such as a bracelet or a watch. This just helps to complete the look because sometimes, just wearing a ring can make the hand feel unbalanced.
When selecting a bracelet, you need to think about the rest of the outfit as a whole. If you’re not going to wear necklaces or earrings, then you can have much more freedom in how you want the piece to look.
This is because most hip-hop bracelets have similar chain links to those found on necklace chains. You want to make sure that the links match up well if you decide to wear both—for example, if you're wearing a tennis bracelet, you should also be sure to wear a tennis necklace with a similar vibe.
Another great wrist option is a watch because these can give you the same icy, high-class look as a bracelet with the added functionality of keeping the time. Since watches have a large surface area, it means that these can be particularly decked out with diamonds. Watches are a great choice if you want to look especially bold.
The Centerpiece: Chains
As you start to expand your jewelry collection, it’s essential to decide which pieces are going to act as the center of your look. In other words, ask yourself, “What do I want people to notice first?” Once you know that, you can build your outfit around that specific accessory.
In most cases, the centerpiece is probably going to be a chain necklace. Since most people first notice the eyes when meeting someone new, your neck is a prime location for jewelry because it’s so close to the area of the first impression. With that in mind, it’s important to do it right.
One of the first things you want to consider is how well the chain will work with the outfit. If you want the chain to really stand out, then be sure to wear a solid-colored shirt as opposed to patterns.
While baguette-cut diamond or cubic zirconia chains are great, gold chains look especially clean against a white or black background. If you’re wearing a black t-shirt, for example, a golden chain will complement the color very nicely. Gold on black is a classic hip-hop look. Plus, plated jewelry, meaning a gold finish over a stainless steel base, is always a great option when it comes to affordability.
Similar to rings, bigger is always better. Not only does this refer to the physical width and length of the hip-hop chain, but it also means that you should go for pieces that are entirely unique. Consider color variations outside of the typical 18k yellow gold, rose gold, or white gold as well as link combinations that have never been seen before, like the Cuban link chain, which was popularized in Miami, or the iconic diamond tennis chain.
If you want the full hip-hop jewelry experience, you can even wear multiple hip-hop necklaces of different lengths at one time, like a long rope chain and a choker. Rappers like Lil Wayne and Lil Pump have popularized the layered chain, and it's a great way to come off as rich and famous.
Personalize the Look: Pendants
One of the best things about jewelry is having the ability to express yourself, and pendant necklaces are the best accessory to let you do just that. With visual imagery that can represent individual experience, pendants might be the most important piece on your body.
When choosing a pendant or a medallion, it’s first important to make sure that you have a compatible chain width. Most pendants require a smaller chain, such as a 3-5mm width, so be sure to have one of those on hand.
Then, think about what you might want the pendant to represent. A popular style for men is the cross pendant or an ankh pendant, as these let you show devotion to faith without sacrificing your style. There’s an assortment of other religious pendants as well, so you can symbolize your spirituality in an effortless way.
You can also get a custom-made pendant for yourself. Custom jewelry is the perfect way to show a loved one how much you care about them. Consider writing your partner’s name across a word pendant, getting a nameplate for yourself, or getting your loved one's photo plated onto a custom picture pendant. A personalized piece is by far the best way to show off who you really are.
The Final Stop: Earrings
Earrings are a special type of jewelry because they’re the only ones that require a piercing in order to use. However, a few seconds of pain is a great trade-off for a lifetime of looking like a champion.
Men’s earrings have become increasingly popular because it represents a man who doesn’t care what other people think. Wearing earrings is proof that you are an icon who isn’t afraid to be yourself.
Sterling silver stud earrings are a safe choice that add a perfect boost to your outfit as a whole. These are great choices if you don’t want to swap out your earrings often, as you can sleep in them easily. However, dangling earrings are bolder, so they’ll let you stand out in a crowd.
Wearing jewelry as a man is one of the best things you can do—jewelry really is a unisex experience. It lets you smash the stereotype that only women can wear icy and golden pieces, letting you have full control over your appearance and freedom of expression.
The biggest thing to remember is that bigger is better, especially in a post-COVID world. If you’re new to wearing jewelry, start small with rings and slowly work your way up from there. Be sure to choose a centerpiece that you want people to notice first, building the outfit around that particular one.
But overall, do whatever you feel will best represent who you are as a person. Take one look at the hip-hop legends of today, and you’ll see that they’re always experimenting and adjusting based on their own individuality.