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Shine Bright Like a Diamond: Rihanna Wore $1M Worth of Jewels During Super Bowl 2023 Halftime Show. One Piece of Bling Sparked Backlash.

There is still a buzz about Rhianna’s Feb. 12 halftime Super Bowl show. Some people loved the spectacular complete with reportedly more than 200 dancers; others seemed to hate it. Most were surprised by her pregnancy reveal. But there was also another interesting fact. 

The singer/Fenty entrepreneur wore more than a million dollars in gems — and one piece of jewelry in particular sparked controversy.

Rihanna performing at the Superbowl Halftime Show on Feb. 12, 2023. Photo: @baycojewels / Instagram

Nearly 28.5 million households watched in to the performance, compared to 28.7 million who watched Dr. Dre and the all-star lineup during last year’s show.

Diamonds in the Sky

The billionaire Barbadian singer wore diamond earrings, diamond ear cuffs, a diamond watch, and a rare 19-carat ruby-and-diamond ring. 

As of October 2023, Rihanna’s net worth 2023 is $1.7 billion. She owns 50 percent of Fenty Beauty and 30 perent of Savage X Fenty, and both brands played promptly in the publicity leading up to the Super Bowl.

Now on to her Super Bowl jewelry.

The Grammy winner rocked diamond earrings and diamond ear cuffs by the Paris-based brand Messika Jewelry.

Also wore a luxury Jacob & Co. watch, which featured a red dial circled by diamonds and a red leather strap, according to Hodinkee. The piece features 251 pavé-set, round-cut diamonds, and a crown set with even more diamonds: 30 round-cut white diamonds.

Bling on Blast

The collection included a rare 19-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring from New York-based jewelry house, Bayco Jewels. This piece, with more than $1 million, is the source of the controversy.

Rihanna was called out by activists opposed to Myanmar’s military junta. The activist group “Justice for Myanmar” blasted the singer in a Twitter thread. According to the group, “Myanmar gems fund junta atrocities.” Justice for Myanmar wants a ban on the trade of the gems.

In February 2021 Myanmar experienced a military overthrew the civilian government, and according to reports, one of the ways the junta government funded its movement is through the sale of gems.

“There is no such thing as an ethically sourced Burmese ruby,” Clare Hammond, senior Myanmar campaigner at Global Witness, said in a statement, as reported by Coconuts, an alternative media site in Asia. “These gemstones are sold as symbols of human connection and affection, yet the supply chain is steeped in corruption and horrific human rights abuses.”

It is unclear when the ruby worn by Rhianna was mined. But in 2021, Vincent Pardieu, a world-renowned field gemologist, told The New York Times, “Today, 99 percent of Burmese rubies found on the market were extracted decades, even centuries ago.”

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