With the economy spiraling out of control, and unemployment rising at an alarming rate, people are tightening their belts everywhere to be wiser with their money.
The more well off are not immune to these times as most recently illustrated by the Bernie Madoff scandal which involved literally hundreds of rich and well off people being taken on a ponzi-fueled ride to financial crisis. One would think that Hip-Hop, which often reflects the world around it would also be affected.
In recent months weve seen a rise in chain snatchings and rappers being accosted, with Soulja Boy Tellem and Yung Berg being the most famous examples but not the only victims. In these trying times you wonder will we finally see the death of bling?
From the first golden era with legends like Slick Rick and Eric B. to the shiny suit era of Jesus pieces that even got rocks in the beards and mustaches and rocks on the stage looking like blue laser, onto the Ca$h Money era of Bling Bling rappers have always rocked ostentatious and at times almost offensively decadent pieces of jewelry even during the hardest hitting economic times.
As recession becomes possible depression, how has that affected the bling? We asked Chris Hernandez (Jacob The Jeweler is presently indisposed), Director of Marketing at ItsHot.com for his observations regarding the current ice market.
AllHipHop.com: What are the current trends in jewelry buying? Between rappers and your regular customers, how has the market moved recently?
Chris Hernandez (ItsHot.com): In general even with sales and prices slashing, retail Jewelry sales are declining but the direct pricing market remains strong. When money is tight good customer service can make a difference in retaining your regular buyers.
AllHipHop.com: But what about the big pieces, like the Ghostface eagle bracelet, or the Terror squad iced out pendant? Have you seen a decline in the sale of the ridiculous pieces?
Ghostface: The Eagle Has Landed
Chris Hernandez (ItsHot.com): Surprisingly, large piece purchase sales remain about the same, but the consumer is more demanding that they get exactly what they want. They are paying more attention to what they are buying. There have been rumors on the streets that some of these chains are made with industrial diamonds and less than stellar quality materials, not to throw anyone under the bus. They are paying more attention to the quality now.
AllHipHop.com: Has the decline in sales involved moving to smaller pieces or just to less buying altogether?
Chris Hernandez (ItsHot.com): There are more purchases, but our average ticket price is down slightly. Weve seen expansion into the less than $500 market.
AllHipHop.com: What do you see as the future trending in hip hop related jewelry?
Slick Rick: Ice King
Chris Hernandez (ItsHot.com): We see classier designs using better quality diamonds. No more pieces with a thousand wack gems that look crazy. Tight, well designed construction withwell-chosen jewels.Paul Wall: Still Smiling
Pharrell: Ice Ice, Baby!
Lil' Wayne: What's A Goon To A Goblin?LL Cool J: 4-Fingered Rings