The 24-Karat Designer Handbag

Holiday shoppers stuck between the gift of a handbag or a piece of jewelry can rest easy. A flood of deluxe designer bags, embellished with precious metals and stones, has rendered the question moot.

24-karat designer handbagPhoto Courtesy:

Judith Leiber, the Hungarian-born designer and author of "The Artful Handbag," covered this territory for decades, creating dazzling minaudières, or evening bags, for first ladies and Hollywood starlets. New are the jewelers who have popped up in her likeness.

A fine, if extreme, example, is the "platinum bijoux" evening bag from Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry, of Japan, bedecked with 208 carats of diamonds. Weighing in at 800 grams, or 1.8 pounds, the one-of-a-kind bag required a year to complete and is now on offer for ¥200 million, or $2 million. It was originally intended to serve as a showpiece. But Naoto (Nick) Mizuki, general manager of marketing, says the company is considering a line of similar bags, at somewhat lower prices.

It was only a matter of time. Between a bag and a jewel, each costing $2,000, "it's much easier to sell the handbag," the New York-based designer Kara Ross said. "There's such a romantic connotation to fine jewelry. A woman may want it but will go home and ask her husband to buy it."

Author: Victoria Gomelsky

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