It’s no secret that rap stars love their bling. Think about Pharrell William’s million-dollar NERD chain by Jacob & Co., Jay-Z’s epic gold necklaces, Slick Rick’s massive Justice Scale chain, Rick Ross’ Rick Ross chain, Kanye’s Horus chain… the list goes on. Jewellery has always been a part of hip hop culture, and a way for each rapper to assert dominance in the game, the bigger—and the blingier—the better. But these days it appears that they’ve also developed a taste for refined high jewellery, the likes of which are associated with top luxury maisons like Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels.
At the 2023 Grammys, celebrities all across the music industry brought their fashion and jewellery A-game to the red carpet. On such an occasion, it wouldn’t normally be considered a surprise to spot iconic high jewellery pieces such as the Tiffany & Co. Bird on a Rock brooch or Bulgari’s Serpenti necklaces and bracelets. Yet surprise us they did, for they became the accessories of choice for some of the best dressed men that evening. Jay-Z showed up in a striking black tux but it was the Tiffany brooch on his lapel that really caught our eye. Together, the Carters are brand ambassadors of the brand, wearing such pieces on multiple occasions.
His appreciation for the Bird on a Rock piece in particular, has apparently started a trend amongst some of the most fashionable men in showbiz—who can’t get enough of the adorable bejewelled birds. Evidently so, as guys like Michael B Jordan accessorised with not one but two, Bird on a Rock brooches at the Creed III premiere in London, as well as the 2023 Oscars. Rapper A$AP Ferg is also a fan, and American footballer Odell Beckham Jr. notably wore his on a bright yellow Louis Vuitton sports jacket to the 2022 Super Bowl.
This year’s Grammys also turned up other jewellery surprises from men on how classical, even quintessentially feminine designs can be worn. Van Cleef & Arpels’ Alhambra collection is a favourite amongst generations of women for its adorable four-leaf clover motif. The idea of an alpha male hip hop artiste wearing one of these pieces is practically inconceivable. And yet rapper Saint Jhn absolutely slayed it with a 10-motif necklace in white gold and blue agate. The trick, we realised, is that he layered it over an oversized diamond skull necklace to create a look that was refreshing but authentic to hip hop culture.
Rapper The-Dream was also often seen in Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra jewellery, having last worn a 20-motif sautoir with a white tux as he took home the award for Best R&B song at the Grammys. Then there was Lil Uzi Vert who rocked all-black Balenciaga, spiked hair, and an iced-out Bulgari Serpenti high jewellery necklace we’re head over tails in love with.
But it’s not just the hip hop artistes who are nailing the high jewellery game. Fashion fanboy Timothée Chalamet definitely knows a thing or two about sizzling up the red carpet. In 2020, the Cartier jewellery ambassador pinned a vintage high jewellery brooch to his Prada Re-Nylon tracksuit at the Oscars, smashing not one but two style conventions with one look: That tracksuits can go on a red carpet, and that men can definitely pull off oversized jewelled brooches.
More recently, he appeared at the Bones and All premiere wearing a bone-motif choker by Vivienne Westwood, which isn’t high jewellery, we know, but those Cartier Panther and high jewellery rings he also wore, more than provided all the megawatt sparkle he needed. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from seeing how guys like Chalamet and Saint Jhn wear their bling, it’s that it’s always more fun when you defy the rules.
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