In the past year, the hip-hop scene has traded in a great deal of its diamond-encrusted Jesus pieces and record-label logo necklaces for items with a bit more "vintage designer" style.
From coast to coast, we are now seeing entertainers and tastemakers flash their vintage Chanel and antique Versace pieces, while designers such as Cartier, Gucci, Christian Lacroix, Celine, Christian Dior and Anne Klein have graced the necks and arms of the rap elite.
Hip-hop is of course no stranger to fine jewelry, but names such as Jacob the Jeweler and Johnny Dang (an associate of Houston's own Paul Wall) are no longer the most sought-after outfitters. Many hip-hop artists nowadays would rather sport a vintage Givenchy chain or Tiffany & Co bracelet than wear items of a more traditional hip-hop provenance.
In this current era of recycled rhyme styles and revamped fashions from decades passed, it is really no surprise that a great deal of the new bling is actually quite old. For example, the Cartier Aldo Cipullo Vintage Nail Cuff bracelet owned by producer Pharrell Williams dates back to the early 1970s.
Other contemporary stars to participate in the vintage jewelry rush include 2 Chainz, A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Young Jeezy and even Houston's own Doughbeezy, Slim Thug and Paul Wall.
Most vintage jewelry collectors spend countless hours thumbing through massive collections of costume pieces at high-end thrift stores, resale shops and estate sales, but those with a little less time and a little more cash turn to Vintages Frames Company for their rare frippery fix.
As purveyor and curator for Vintage Frames Company, self-described "Head Maniac" Corey Shapiro's knowledge of vintage jewelry, fashion and entertainment has made him one of the most requested dealers in the market.
"Myself and my team travel around the world meeting different collectors, fashion enthusiast, going through archives, deadstock sources to put together the most vast runway and ready-to-wear collections of chains basically on the planet right now," he says during a behind-the-scenes YouTube tour of Vintage's Montreal offices.
"[My] collections, versus every other company, are based upon someone's attitude," adds Shapiro. "I'll put together a grouping based on what I think someone is really trying to portray with their walk and their talk and their image."
With clientele including Big K.R.I.T., Diddy, Sean Kingston, Mac Miller, Casey Veggies, Ryan Leslie and many others, Shapiro definitely has a niche in the industry.
Since the dawning of the hip-hop generation, many rappers have been synonymous with flash and flamboyance, so a resurgence of oversized gold chains and bracelets fits a familiar pattern. However, if you plan on picking up your own vintage piece, you should definitely act fast.
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These rare pieces are being snatched up all around the world; and the fewer left, the higher the price. The most attractive feature of buying vintage is that it cannot be recreated.