The History of Hip-Hop, as Told Through the Jewelry That Defined It

“Jewelry has always been a big part of my life, but it evolved as my life evolved,” A$AP Ferg writes in Ice Cold: A Hip-Hop Jewelry History, out from Taschen next month. 

A collection of nearly 500 photographs, the 388-page book recounts the history of hip-hop from the 1980s through today, told through the jewels and gems that adorned the genre’s biggest personalities—in image and rhyme. From Run-DMC’s gold rope chains to Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella pendant to Cardi B’s diamond-encrusted nameplate necklace, Ice Cold explores the relationship between ornamentation and identity through vivid images and thought-provoking personal essays from Ferg and pioneers including Slick Rick and LL Cool J.

Below, a look at some of the sparkling multi-finger rings, glistening gold grills, and other statement jewelry featured in the pages of Ice Cold:

Jay-Z, 18 years old in this photo and still an unknown in hip-hop, was serious about his jewelry from the start. While attending a photo shoot with friend and rapper Jaz-O, Hov wore a double gold rope with an anchor pendant, tiger nugget watch, king cobra pendant, tiger four-finger rings, and Gucci link bracelet. The Gucci link was popularized by the Gucci brand, but it is formally known as a marine link, consisting of large oval links flattened or hammered together.

Timothy White, Brooklyn, New York, 1988

Eric B. & Rakim

Scott Wippermann, New York, 1988

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