An Israeli jewellery company is working on what it says will be the world's most expensive coronavirus mask, a gold, diamond-encrusted face covering with a price tag of US$1.5 million (NZ$2.27m).
The 18-carat white gold mask will be decorated with 3600 white and black diamonds and fitted with top-rated N99 filters at the request of the buyer, said designer Isaac Levy.
Levy, owner of the Yvel company, said the buyer had two other demands: that it be completed by the end of the year, and that it would be the priciest in the world. That last condition, he said, "was the easiest to fulfill".
He declined to identify the buyer, but said he was a Chinese businessman living in the United States.
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The glitzed-up face mask may lend some pizzazz to the protective gear now mandatory in public spaces in many countries. But at 270 grams - nearly 100 times that of a typical surgical mask - it is not likely to be a practical accessory to wear.
In an interview at his factory near Jerusalem, Levy showed off several pieces of the mask, covered in diamonds. One gold plate had a hole for the filter.
"Money maybe doesn't buy everything, but if it can buy a very expensive Covid-19 mask and the guy wants to wear it and walk around and get the attention, he should be happy with that," Levy said.
Such an ostentatious mask might also rub some the wrong way at a time when millions of people around the world are out of work or suffering economically. Levy said that while he would not wear it himself, he was thankful for the opportunity.
"I am happy that this mask gave us enough work for our employees to be able to provide their jobs in very challenging times like these times right now," he said.