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The American Museum of Natural History presents the sparkling side of Hip-Hop

Jesus piece, the Barbie pendant, and many more to be showcased at the exhibition which showcases hip-hop jewelry.

As the Ice Cold guest curator, Vikki Tobak says, hip-hop and diamonds do seem to share a similarity, after all, they both emerge from pressure to create pure beauty and excellence. For years, hip-hop stars have adorned themselves with extravagant diamond and gold jewelry, showcasing opulence and influence. Now, the American Museum of Natural History has unveiled Ice Cold: An Exhibition of Hip-Hop Jewelry, honoring hip-hop’s cultural impact.

Slick Rick Ice Cold Exhibition Hip-Hop jewelry
American Rapper Slick Rick

Featuring more than 80 spectacular pieces from icons like Slick Rick, A$AP Rocky, Nicki Minaj, and more, the exhibition celebrated the genre’s evolution and global influence. The exhibition opened on May 9, 2024, and will be on view until January 5, 2025.

Tyler, The Creator for Ice Cold Exhibition Hip-Hop jewelry
Rapper Tyler, The Creator’s jewelry

Highlighted in the exhibition are a diamond-studded Roc-A-Fella medallion, paying homage to the record label co-founded by Jay-Z, and a necklace belonging to Eve, symbolizing Ruff Ryders, the label pivotal to her career and that of other hip-hop legends like DMX.

Also featured are Slick Rick’s iconic gem-encrusted crown, the Notorious B.I.G.’s legendary gold ‘Jesus piece’, Nicki Minaj’s diamond ‘Barbie’ pendant, Beyonce’s diamond-adorned nails, and several diamond grills.

Erykah Badu Ice Cold Exhibition Hip-Hop jewelry
Singer Erykah Badu

Furthermore, it also showcases a ring owned by Roxanne Shanté, commemorating her role as the sole female rapper within the esteemed Juice Crew collective.

Also featured is a white gold and diamond “QC” necklace from the personal collection of Ice Cold guest co-curator Kevin “Coach K” Lee. This necklace was crafted for Quality Control Music, the Atlanta-based powerhouse co-founded by Mr. Lee, which propelled the careers of Migos, Lil Baby, City Girls, and Lil Yachty.

Asap Rocky Ice Cold Exhibition Hip-Hop jewelry
This Lego pendant, designed for A$AP Rocky by Alex Moss X Pavē in 2022, is made of 14-karat gold with multicolored diamonds, sapphire, ruby, and enamel. | Alvaro Keding/© AMNH

The exhibition Ice Cold follows the development of hip-hop jewelry spanning five decades, beginning with the oversized gold chains embraced by rap pioneers in the late 1970s. It progressed through the 1990s, marked by explosive popularity, with artists flaunting diamond and platinum record-label pendants. It features jewelry from every era of hip-hop, showcasing how this art has been a medium for narratives of resilience, rebellion, and creative self-expression throughout its evolution.

Drake Ice Cold Exhibition Hip-Hop jewelry
This pendant—designed by Alex Moss in 2023 to celebrate Drake’s hometown of Toronto—boasts multicolored diamonds and rubies on 18-karat gold and features the mascots for the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays wrapped around Toronto’s CN Tower. | Alvaro Keding/© AMNH

In the new millennium, as hip-hop’s influence soared, artists embraced multi-colored jewelry with innovative designs, drawing inspiration from high fashion, pop culture, and rap history. The designers of these precious pieces, Ashna Mehta, Jules Kim, and Alex Moss were also in attendance.

Nicki Minaj Ice Cold exhibition on hip-hop jewelry
Nicki Minaj’s iconic Barbie pendant—which boasts 54.47 carats of diamonds on 18-karat gold and bright Barbie-pink enamel—was made by Ashna Mehta in 2022 and is the most recent commissioned by Minaj, whose first Barbie pendant dates to 2009. | Alvaro Keding/© AMNH

“Bringing the Ice Cold exhibit to the American Museum of Natural History is a testament to the cultural significance of this art form and culture. It’s time to celebrate the artists, jewelers, craftsmen, and everyday people who contributed to the storied history of hip-hop jewelry. This exhibit not only pays homage to hip-hop’s roots with pieces from Biz Markie and Jam Master Jay for example but also highlights its enduring impact on style and society with pieces from contemporary artists like Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Rocky, and FERG,” Ms. Tobak said.

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