When the pandemic hit and wearing a face mask in public became mandatory, one unnamed businessman in Los Angeles decided to turn his face-covering into a statement of style and wealth.
Not content to don a blue and white medical mask, he commissioned Jerusalem jewellery house Yvel to come up with something unique. His request was simple: create the world's most expensive, functional face mask.
Known for elaborate work with rare pearls and diamonds, Yvel's founder Isaac Levy set to work, enlisting the help of 25 of his most skilled artisans.
The result is a dark-coloured, black diamond mask, offset with swirls of white diamonds. And its value? A cool $1.5 million.
Made from 250g of 18K gold and covered with 210 carats of white and black diamonds, each of the 3,608 stones has been set by hand. Made with an inner and outer layer, the inner one can be unclipped to allow a N99 medical grade filter to be inserted, before being repositioned to hold it tightly in place.
Once worn, the N99 filter can be removed and disposed of and a new one added before the mask is ready for use again. Fully compliant with all safety regulations, it offers a high level of protection.
The unusual project came about during the pandemic when Levy travelled to the US to meet his high net worth clients and ask them to place orders to ensure he could keep the workshops open and his workers in employment. The businessman – who prefers to remain anonymous – ordered the one-off creation.
Of the commission, Levy is, unsurprisingly, very grateful.
“We are blessed with very loyal customers who appreciate the creativity, commitment and dedication of our master craftspeople,” he said.
“When we were first challenged to create a mask of this magnitude, we were energised by the opportunity and our team came together to create something truly unique and special, and yet functional. Unlike any project we have done before, this order involved not only beautiful jewels, but also a protective element.”
With the client asking for complete discretion, Levy will only admit that he has been a loyal customer for many years, and has deep ties with the company.
Founded by a husband-wife duo 1986, Yvel works with rare and unusual stones and pearls.
Choosing pearls with natural, asymmetric shapes, the company specialises in transforming them into diamond encased rings, earrings and necklaces that have scooped several major industry awards for innovation.