If there was rating system to classify jewelry based on rappers, the Jesus piece would be the Jay-Z of the hip-hop jewelry industry. Its only completion is the ubiquitous cross necklace which has been around since the inception of Christianity. The Jesus piece can be seen on celebrities in the music, sports, acting among others. American athletes such as Cleveland Cavaliers NBA player Lebron James and musicians in the Hip-Hop industry are wearing the Jesus Piece. It is characterized by the depiction of the face of Jesus adorned with diamonds, rubies, platinum/gold/silver hung on a chain.
The Jesus Piece Necklace can be traced back to the roots of rap music. Trending mostly in major cities such as New York and Chicago for decades. The Jesus Piece Necklace is a statement for those that wear it with pride. This diamond studded pendant or sometimes minimalist design made from gold or other precious metals such as platinum can be seen in a plethora of rap videos which has made it so deeply embedded in the American and western culture. Celebrities can be seen wearing the Jesus piece necklace to coveted red carpet events, music award ceremonies, and other exclusive events.
The Jesus Piece Necklace could be seen on Bad Boy Inc. deceased rapper Christopher Wallace, most popularly known as Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie who had his Jesus piece necklace made by Jacob Arabo. The Jesus piece necklace grew quickly and gained momentum from celebrities wearing it. Hip-hop has now become more than just music, it’s an industry that catapulted into great heights that now includes fashion (FUBU, Sean John, Roca-wear etc.), electronics (Beats by Dre, SMS Audio etc.), reality TV (VH1 Love and Hip-hop) and numerous media/gossip outlets that thrives on fresh entertaining celebrity controversy (Mediatakeout, TMZ) among other industries.
The Jesus piece is now considered a representation of being stylish and fresh and shows no signs of going anywhere soon. Rappers such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and The Game further propelled the notoriety of the Jesus Piece Necklace to further heights in the last decade.
Word spread quickly when rapper Kanye West collaborated with well-known celebrity jeweler and founder of Jacob & Company, Jacob Arabo in 2004 to design and manufacture an exclusive line of religious-themed pieces of jewelry which includes diamond-studded Jesus pendants.
The pair released an extravagant piece made from solid gold, featuring a crown of thorns fully encrusted with diamonds on the Jesus piece head, along with two sparkling VVS diamond eyes and blood red rubies that formed tears flowing down the Jesus piece face.
Although Kanye and Jacob are commonly credited with inventing the Jesus piece, long-time hip-hop fans may recall seeing a similar piece around the neck of the Notorious B.I.G. in the mid-1990s. He even rapped about it in “I Love the Dough” on his posthumous “Life After Death” album in 1999 with the lyrics ““You seen the Jesus…Even got rocks in the beard and mustache.” The pendant is believed to have been created by the original OG designer, Tito.
Other early rap artists who have been discovered wearing the iconic image made by the New York City jeweler include Ghostface, Lil Cease, D-Roc, and Prodigy. In fact, a baby face Jay-Z appears on the cover of the hip-hop magazine, XXL, in December 1999 sporting a gold Jesus piece. It is rumored to be the same pendant owned by Biggie, who is said to have passed it down to his son after his death.
In 2012 rapper, “The Game” released a long-awaited album he titled “Jesus Piece” along with a newly designed Jesus piece necklace very much different from the traditional Jesus piece necklace as seen in the photo below.
The Jesus Piece Necklace comes in myriads of styles and materials that may not be precious metals or materials. Non-precious materials used to make the Jesus piece has become popular which may include wood, brass, enamel and plastic which make has made the Jesus piece more affordable than its original design adorned in precious metals, diamonds, and rubies. The material used and the craftsmanship will directly influence the Jesus piece cost. The cost of a Jesus piece can range from $10 upwards in the tens of thousands depending on its materials. Prices, however, vary across different jewelers and sometimes shopping around might be a great idea before your get your 1st or 2nd or 3rd Jesus piece necklace.