The COVID-19 pandemic might not last forever, but a diamond-encrusted face mask certainly will.
A wealthy Chinese entrepreneur from Shanghai has custom-ordered what may be the world’s most expensive protective mask with a price tag of $1.5 million to keep coronavirus droplets at bay. And Israeli jewelers Orna and Isaac Levy, founders of the Jerusalem-based jewelry brand Yvel, are on it.
The mask is made of 18k gold and set with 3,608 natural diamonds at a total weight of 210 carats. It is also based on the N-99 respirator, a face mask that claims to filter at least 99 percent of airborne particles.
These features fulfill some of the conditions set by the unnamed buyer, a longtime customer of the jewelers now living in the US, including that the mask be the priciest in the world thus far and that it provides the highest levels of filtration. A third condition was that the mask is delivered by the end of the year, the Levys said.
The planning and designing of the mask took about a month, Isaac Levy tells NoCamels via email. “We had to make sure it fits the human face and meets all requirements of an N-99 full functioning mask, but once we had the model ready we able to start the designing process which is our favorite part of the work,” he says.
Producing the mask is taking a few months and the jewelers are aiming to have it done by mid-October “and to deliver it personally to our customer” by December.
The order has required intensive production and the making of the mask has been entrusted to 25 jewelers and diamond setters carefully selected from Yvel and working in shifts, the company said in the announcement.
The unusual mask was ordered as an “act of financial support” for Yvel, the company indicated. The company’s factory and center in Jerusalem were closed at the outset of the outbreak in Israel in early March, according to government guidelines, and its 150 employees in Israel (and the US) were out of work.
The order, Levy tells NoCamels “was placed by one of our loyal and close friends who understands the value of ‘giving back’ that we share with everyone around us.”
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“He placed this order to bring business back into the company and provide a source of living to the Yvel employees. It was a gesture. We are talking about a very wealthy man whose only interest was to show support to this company and its people,” he says.
Yvel was founded in 1986 and produces unique free form designs. “While most jewelry designers design a piece of jewelry and then look for a pearl or stone, at Yvel we first look for the pearl or stone and then we fashion the jewelry around it,” explains Isaac Levy on the company site.
Face mask fashion has exploded over the past few months as the protective gear is now a must in many countries, specifically in public places and workplaces. It is also an accessory that is likely to stay with us for some time as the coronavirus continues to take its toll on a global scale.
But most designers have gone for beautiful, colorful prints, unique embroidery, and soft materials.
At 270 grams (about half a pound), the gold-and-diamond mask is certainly heavier than average, and definitely more solid.
“The mask is a full functioning mask but being made of gold and encrusted with diamonds, it would most likely a collectors’ item rather than something you wear to dinner with friends, although we won’t know until the mask will be finished,” Levy tells NoCamels.
Asked if the company expects to make more such masks, he says: “We are certainly up for the task. Why, are you interested in placing an order?”