The 90s began on a high for Tupac Shakur. After this debut album 2Pacalypse Now thrust him into the spotlight as a West Coast hip-hop star, those that followed only continued his victorious streak. It was also the decade when Shakur experimented with acting in movies like Poetic Justice and Juice, which were also met with acclaim. In 1996, he went on to launch Euphanasia Incorporated, where he aimed to transition to an executive role in music, acting and outreach programs. It was also the year his fourth studio album All Eyez on Me, which included the hit California Love, went on to be Diamond certified. No one could have predicted that it would be the last album he would release during his lifetime. The year was a pivotal one for Shakur; part of which has now come to light because of a notable, and highly valued, ring that belonged to him.
After his meteoric rise to the glimmering pedestal of success, Tupac commissioned a crown-shaped ring for himself in 1996. Yaasmyn Fula, his godmother, was responsible for co-ordinating between the New York jewelers and Shakur, so that the final piece of bling was exactly what he had in mind. After multiple changes till it was perfected, Tupac's vision had come to life. He based his design on the crowns worn by medieval kings of Europe, as an act of self-coronation. Placed on a diamond-encrusted gold ring, is a central cabochon ruby surrounded by two pave-cut diamonds. Over it is the famed crown design with 5 rays featuring round cabochon rubies set in gold. Atop the band is a 6-pronged arch with a cabochon circular ruby at its centre. The ring band bears the inscription "Pac & Dada 1996", which paid tribute to his engagement to Kidada Jones. With diamonds weighing almost 5 carats set in 14 karat yellow gold, it was worn by the artist for his last public appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Mere days later, 25-year-old Tupac was shot in a drive-by incident and died 6 days later in September 1996.
Shakur influenced the world of hip-hop, style and pop culture greatly. To the extent that, his famous crown ring was auctioned by Sotheby's this July 2023. Although it was initially estimated to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000, the winning bid came in at $1.02 million. The auction commemorated the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and Tupac's ring is now the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold.