This is a good lesson for kids everywhere: When you make it big in the music industry, don't invest in jewelry.
After years of buying diamond-encrusted pendants, gold teeth and heavy gold chains, hip-hop artists and rappers are facing the recession by asking their jewelers to use less-precious stones and metals, including cubic zirconia, the synthetic diamond stand-in, according to a Wall Street Journal story (subscription required).
"A lot of these rappers simply don't have the money for real stuff anymore," Jason Arasheben, who crafts custom jewelry for wealthy clients, told the Journal. "It's to the point where they are wearing imitation jewelry, and that's ridiculous."
He also made a pendant in the image of headphones with black and white diamonds a few years ago for rapper Biz Markie, whose real name is Marcel Theo Hall.
Some rappers such as Hall said they're dispirited to see rappers either use fake jewelry or go with big items.
"When I was wearing a big rope, it was a symbol that I was one of the elite," Hall said. "These kids think size matters, but they be lyin'. It just makes them look silly."
Some rappers planned to sell their pieces for charity last fall in an auction titled "Hip Hop's Crown Jewels," but it was postponed to March and then canceled entirely due partly to insufficient interest from buyers.
And if trading down in gold value isn't enough of a cut in expenses, rappers can always go to sellyourgoldteeth.com to pawn their "grillz," the gold and diamond-laced dental retainers that were selling for tens of thousands of dollars earlier this decade.
At a time when gold prices are high, your gold teeth may be your most valuable asset.
Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net
Rappers sing the recession blues, sell their bling