From the earliest times of recorded history gold has exerted an almost mystical influence over men. The effects of gold fever have built empires and destroyed lives. It has long been a substance that men and women crave and value as something different from all other natural materials.
As a result of this attraction, the pursuit and possession of gold has created some of our most enduring legends and oddities. Here are just 10 examples of how gold has been used to create unique, odd and expensive treasures.
10. The Gold Dessert
The restaurant Serendipity 3 came up with a great marketing ploy with its Grand Opulence Sundae. With a price tag of $1,000 you get a dessert worth sharing, and there is no extra charge for a second 18 karat golden spoon. The list of ingredients includes:
- Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream
- Chocolate chunks of rare Amedi Porcleana and Chuaco
- Parisian candied fruit
- Marzipan cherries
- Gold dragets
- Grand Passion Caviar
- An edible gold leaf and a gold sugar flower topping it all off
The sundae is served in baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet. The restaurant asks that you kindly give 48-hour notice of your desire for this dessert.
9. Gold Vodka
As with the gold sundae, it seems there is a new fad that focuses on innovative ways to consume or imbibe gold. One of the most elegant manifestations of this phenomenon is the classy bottle of vodka produced by Goldschlager. Reported to be quadruple distilled, whatever that is, this vodka comes in a stylish decanter and has gold flakes swirling around, waiting to be shared by the shot. It seems no one actually cares about the quality of the vodka, only the impression it makes. Each flake in the 750 ml bottle is said to have a market value of $4.31, assuming a spot price of $1,300 an ounce.
8. Gold Toilet Paper
Yes, it you want to wipe in style, you can order this 22-carat role of toilet paper from the Toilet Man out of Australia. At a cost of $1,376,900 a roll, you’ll want to keep your pantry well stocked, of course. The product is actually in demand in Dubai – probably because of its three-ply softness and ability to be recycled. And, yes, there is a gold toilet you can purchase to go along with this necessity – it’s price tag is only $5,000,000. That’s because it’s only gold plated.
It’s all about branding today. If you choose to put your words on paper instead of in an email, there is a special way to make them stand out. Just staple your little missive together with these 14 carat gold plate staples. Actually, these are designed for a less utilitarian use, as jewelry, by the Dutch House of Ooooms. You can get 24 staples in a velvet case for a token price of $210.
6. Vending Machine
Okay, so the machine itself is only gold-colored. However, the contents are pure gold. The “Gold to Go” vending machine in the airports in Abu Dhabi, Bergamo, Moscow and Frankfurt dispense gold bars, with the price per bar automatically updated to reflect the current spot price. The company indicates it plans to place the machines at additional airports around the world. Consumers can use their credit cards to purchase a bar, which drops out like any old soda can might. Or, if you want more discretion for your gold purchases, you can go to www.gold-to-go.com. Just don’t get caught beating the machine if your quarters get stuck.
5. The Golden Bike
If you want to pedal in style, you can actually purchase a bike made almost entirely of 24 karat gold-plated components, all the way down to the spokes. Make by Aurumaia, this item carries a modest price tag of $115,000. It won’t be seen everywhere, as only 10 are being made and they are sold out. The formal name of Gold Bike Crystal edition comes from the addition of more than 600 Swarovski crystals, also used to spell out the manufacturer’s name on the crossbar. Fortunately, the Brooks seat and handgrips are made of fine leather to provide for more comfort and ease of use. Oh, you can order the bike on line and have it delivered anywhere in the world.
4. The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle $20
It’s only appropriate to have a gold coin on this list, as gold has served as a medium of exchange for centuries. While some early gold currency found by archaeologists is certainly priceless, one of the most valuable gold coins today is this gem. Although less than a century old and originally worth only $20, one of these pieces, owned by King Farouk, was sold in 2002 at a Sotheby’s auction for $7.5 million. More than 445,000 of these coins were melted down after the U.S. abandoned the gold standard and the few left in circulation have been the goal of discriminating (and wealthy) collectors ever since. In fact, the government has been involved in several lawsuits with individuals after seizing individual coins said to have been illegally saved from the melting process.
3. The Faberge Egg
Here’s one that is weird, odd and expensive all at once. It seems a man from the Midwest purchased a small item at a garage sale that he thought might be worth something. He had hoped to get as much as $500 dollars for the item at meltdown value. However, he couldn’t get any interest from several scrap metal dealers. At a loss as to what to do, he did an online search for the name Vacheron Constantin that was engraved on a tiny clock on the egg-shaped item. Lo and behold, the search turned up an article about the missing Third Imperial Easter Egg which was created by Faberge as part of the collection for the Russian royal family. Unfortunately, experts confirmed the gold in the object probably wasn’t worth the $500 dollars the owner hoped for. On the other hand, the egg itself was valued at an amazing $33 million as one of the truly unique items of gold art. The discovery was considered to be equivalent to finding the Holy Grail of the fine arts world.
2. World’s Most Expensive Car
When it comes to cars, you won’t get a chance to race for the pinks on this baby. The Bugatti Veyron replica created by Liverpool’s Stuart Hughes has a price tag double that of the real car, $2 million pounds. Commissioned by luxury model car maker Robert Gulpen, the 1:18 scale model weighs in at 7 kilograms and includes construction with platinum, a 7.2 ct single cut flawless diamond, and 24 ct gold. The replica has all the details, including steering that works and an intricately detailed engine. The 10-inch car is a limited edition of three, and, of course, you get a certification of authenticity you can use to register your car.
1. King Tutankhmum’s Death Mask
This iconic item of gold truly deserves the label of priceless. Discovered in his tomb in the early 20th century and displayed around the world, this golden symbol of power and eternal grace is an example of how royalty has always valued gold as the ultimate sign of status. The mask of solid beaten gold is inlaid with semiprecious stones and colored glass and stands 21 inches high. Its total weight is just over 24 pounds. The mask is only the most recognized part of the stunning treasure unearthed in King Tut’s tomb in 1922, creating a global stir that still hasn’t totally died down.