Bling a word which may have been created as early as the 50's or 60's could be described as "the sound a diamond makes when sunlight hits it."
In the oughties this evocative term, bling described the social display of wealth among young urban youth or Donald Trump. The thesis being that by adorning oneself with the trappings of material wealth, the individual achieved ascribed status, power and socially desired attributes. This is an example of positive materialism used for social standing.
An old school architectural bling style is called rococo seen at the right.
In painting this can be seen in portraiture during different periods. Check out Henry the Eighth. The concept of lots of gold chains, furs and ladies is old school English bling. Hint: the term family jewels is derived from the decorative codpiece. I am surprised hip hop culture missed this trick.
The pendulum swings as it always does in the other direction. Humility, hardship and suffering and earned or achieved status become more important as indicative of value and self worth in the competition for social standing.
The Monty Python video below illustrates this well. Different cultures and sub-cultures handle the bling continuum differently. One person's vulgar display is another's sense of self-expression. Contemporary urban youth American culture refers to an anti-bling stance as "keepin' it real", which indicates a degree of authenticity derived from earned status and humility.
If you are a marketer or play a role in culture creation and facilitation, this is important. Being from Iowa gives me a bit of an anti-bling stance and a bias for earned versus ascribed social status, keeping it real if you will.