It's been widely believed by everyone that white teeth are considered a sign of good health and status. However, gold teeth are now falling into that same category. Grillz have been a part of hip hop culture since the very beginning. Rappers and artists began wearing grillz in the early 1980s, but this accessory gained popularity in the mid-2000's.
Grillz are mainly made of gold or silver and may be set with diamonds or CZ (cubic zirconia) stones to give it more of an iced look. They come in various designs and shapes. Some are made for only a single tooth as a cap while others can be made for both upper and lower set of teeth. Eddie Plein, owner of Eddie’s Gold Teeth, is known to be one of the pioneers of this trend. He first fitted Flavor Flav with gold teeth and then made more for New York rappers such as Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane. After moving to Atlanta, Eddie designed even more elaborate grills for other notable rappers such as Ludacris, Lil Jon, OutKast and Goodie Mob.
Previously, grillz were standardized and the teeth had to be adjusted to fit the grill, but nowadays, custom grillz can be made and shaped according to dental molds of the wearer. They are usually made from solid yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, or silver. Differing the composition of the metal alloys can give you a variety of tone colors with differing properties. More expensive grills are fitted with diamonds. Paul Wall, a famous Texas rapper, is known to wear diamond encrusted grills that cost an upwards of $30,000. When Nelly dropped 2005's "Grillz," he hit up Paul Wall to do a collab and took this accessory to another level. Some other popular rappers that wore grillz are Kanye West, Jay Z, Ludacris, Gucci Mane, Lil Jon, T-Pain, Diddy, Soulja Boy and Lil Wayne. Even female artists have caught on, such as Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, and Katy Perry.
Even athletes such as Olympic gold-medalist Ryan Lochte was seen wearing grills at the 2012 London Games. Lochte’s grill cost $25,000 and was designed by Paul Wall. The grill had been iced with diamonds in the pattern of the American flag. Grillz is one of the oldest trends in hip hop and just like other jewelry that rappers wear, its a way to show off their success by staying icy. This trend that shows no sign of dying anytime soon.