Diamond Grills: History of the Obsession, Celebrities Who Wear Them, More

Photo by: Getty
When Ryan Lochte won a gold medal during the 2012 Olympics, he flashed an American flag grill complete with stars and stripes shaped diamonds, which was commissioned by Paul Wall and ... more 
Photo by: Getty
When Ryan Lochte won a gold medal during the 2012 Olympics, he flashed an American flag grill complete with stars and stripes shaped diamonds, which was commissioned by Paul Wall and Johnny Dang. The grill set him back a reported $25,000.
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Mon, Mar 25, 2013 1:16 PM EDT
By Spencer Cain and Victoria Barton, The Vivant



There's been a longstanding fascination in the entertainment industry with grills (or grillz, which is also a popular spelling). While the most common variety tend to be of gold, many stars have been seen wearing grills decked out in diamonds over their teeth. In honor of #DiamondMonth, we decided to break down the obsession, explore the history of grills, as well as share some of memorable stars who have thousands of dollars of diamonds in their teeth.


The History: You may think grills are a new development, but the concept has actually been around for centuries. The ancient Mayans practiced dental mutilation, which involved drilling jade stones into their teeth to signify wealth and status. In the 1980s, grills became popular in New York thanks to rappers including Flavor Flav and Big Daddy Kane who wore gold fronts over their teeth designed by Eddie Plein, a jewelry designer who still creates grills for rappers today. The basis of a grill is simple: It's a metal (silver, platinum, or most popularly gold) which can be decorated with stones like diamonds. In the late 1990s, grills became a pop culture phenomenon thanks to Juvenile, Nelly, Kanye West, and most importantly, Paul Wall.


Paul Wall's Contributions to Grills: Houston born rapper Paul Wall appeared alongside Nelly on the platinum hit "Grillz" in 2007. Although a relatively successful rapper beforehand, this was his big break, and everyone began to notice the diamonds in his mouth. His grills, some of which are estimated to cost around $30,000 are by far the most notable in the hip-hop community-and he's turned that recognition into a full on business. His company Grills by Paul Wall designs specialty grills for a slew of high profile clients including Kanye West.


Cost of Grills: Considering that grills are custom made to fit a specific set of teeth, how much they costs varies wildly. A simple grill made from less precious gold can start out around $150, but it can reach around $100,000 if there's a large amount of diamonds or other stones.


The Process: Here's how it works. First, you have to get a mold kit of your teeth made, and then the designer formulates the grill based on your desired design. A grill surprisingly only takes around three or four days to complete, but a custom grill takes about two weeks. Some grills are made to be permanent, but the majority are detachable.


For a look at some of the most memorable celebrity grills, click through the slideshow above!


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