Friday, May 29, 2009

The Hope Diamond, the Star of India, the Crunk Ain't Dead necklace

In a way, this Wall Street Journal story is funny: "The recession is cramping the style of hip-hop artists and wannabes -- many of whom are finding it difficult to afford the diamond-encrusted pendants and heavy gold chains they have long used to project an aura of outsized wealth." And in a way, it isn't. I mean, this is someone's version of the American dream we're talking about.

What I wonder about, though, is if anyone will use this situation to flip the image of luxury jewelry. To play up the human rights abuse angle of the gem trade and equate jewelry with, say, wearing fur. Can gems ever become vulgar? Can wearing jewelry ever be repositioned as a sellout -- a betrayal of poor, oppressed people of color? Couldn't this stick, given that the most precious gems are often found in the world's most impoverished regions and mined by the world's most impoverished people? We all know about conflict-free diamonds and the Burmese ban but because gem-wearing ladies in Manhattan never get splashed with red paint, no one seems to care. Is human suffering not as compelling as animal suffering? Would the "environmental pollution" story play better? Are gems just too pretty? Or are hip-hop superstars just not that influential?

No comments: