Today’s edition of New Threads is a special one. Where we normally spotlight an independent brand that may be in your peripherals, today we chose a brand that should be in your cross hairs as a leader in its field. So take note on their strategies and approach to the game. King Ice was founded by Derek Belay and Cuong Diep in 2007 after capitalizing on the niche of custom men’s jewelry, particularly in the Hip-Hop sector. They come from extremely diverse backgrounds but their business savvy and passion for bringing quality products to fans of Hip-Hop have vaulted them to working with Karmaloop, ESPN, Agenda, Mike Tyson, and many more.
We spoke with one of the co-founders, Derek, about jewelry trends in Hip-Hop, what separates them from every other retailer, and how aspiring jewelers may want to stay away from the game. Check out the interview below and check out some of their custom pieces afterwards. You can find King Ice on their website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Or you can contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626-571-5874. And please, serious inquiries only.
For those unfamiliar, New Threads is a fresh column we’ll be executing to celebrate independent fashion companies and the minds behind them. A teenager in an American suburb with a dope idea and a few bucks should be given mad props, if they’re due, just like your favorite luxury brand. We’ll pick a creator that deserves your attention and ask him/her a few questions, including our Final Four questions we ask all of our creators for that month. What’s the requirements to be featured on New Threads? Originality and quality. And please, make something you’d wear proudly. Hit us up on Twitter if you know someone who has or you yourself have a dope brand on the rise. Or send us an email to SYLR@thesource.com.
We tried selling different products at first but out here in LA there is a jewelry district, so we decided to try jewelry and because we were connected to hip hop as fans and understood how popular jewelry is in the culture we targeted the hip hop market. But we wanted to do it different, build a brand, create new designs that haven’t been seen before, establish a high level of quality and customer service and engage the culture by holding events like rap contests. I was a NWA fan, Ice Cube, Snoop, a lot west coast rap and ironically they didn’t really rock jewelry that much. We looked to the south with dudes like Gucci Mane and Bird Man rockin blinged out layers chains and pendant for our inspiration.
There are iconic pieces in Hip-Hop like the Roc A Fella chain and the Jesus piece. What are some of your favorite pieces throughout Hip-Hop history?
I go back to RUN DMC with the Dookie chains. They’re still popular, it’s so iconic. Pac had the dope Euphanasia piece with an Angel reading a list of names, which we plan to recreate as a tribute. Rick Ross has some of the dopest custom Jesus pieces I’ve seen. I believe he was the first to create the black Jesus piece.
I’m starting to see rappers going back to really thick gold chains instead of multiple thinner ones. What do you think the next big trend in jewelry will be? Or what would you like to see as the trend?
It’s definitely a cycle. We notice there is an arms race for who has the biggest chain. Plies is rockin a 7 kilo Cuban! I just saw 2 Chainz with what looked like at least a 30mm thick Cuban. Jay-Z is rockin a phat Cuban chain as well. But that’s mostly with celebrities. The trend right now is more smaller, cleaner pieces with less stones. But there is still high demand for the bigger iced out stuff. I would like to see more creativity in the pieces. That’s what we’re trying to do anyway. This whole thing shouldn’t necessarily be about spending more money. Save that cake for your house. Instead, it should be about creative expression in the form of jewelry. We like to create new trends and not always follow them, that’s why we work directly with the manufacturers to make pieces we like.