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Lil Wayne necklace Joy BC

A student paid her uni fees by making a necklace for Lil Wayne

The solid gold necklace was commissioned by one of the rapper’s friends for his 36th birthday

Together with the video for his single “Uproar”, which was released last week, American rapper Lil Wayne also debuted an unusual piece of wearable art – a solid gold effigy of his own head.

The custom pendant, commissioned by one of his close friends to mark the rapper’s 36th birthday and the release of his album The Carter V, was hand-carved by London-based goldsmith and Royal College of Art student Joy BC. Made of 18ct yellow gold and set with white diamonds, Wayne’s portrait hangs on a gold chain and is even engraved with miniature replicas of his face tattoos.

The piece, entitled An Icon, draws on BC’s fascination for antiquity and classical artefacts that have been demolished through the years, as demonstrated by the pendant’s rough edges. In keeping with her recent line of rings, Precious Tears – a series of fragmented portraits engraved with tears in precious stones – BC wanted to subvert the societal stigma associated with men expressing their emotions: “There is a negative stereotype that for a man to cry shows weakness – I seek to reclaim the power that can be harnessed in the simple and often moving act of shedding a tear.”

Aside from gaining her visibility, BC said the commission of the custom-made pendant has helped her financially, allowing her to stay in school. “This year I was seriously considering dropping out of school because I couldn’t afford the fees,” she said. “The commission came a few weeks before I was due to start my second year, and meant that I could pay for school and continue to pursue the career I am so dedicated to.”