Deluxe Indulgences

A guide to gifts of luxury


Photos by David Richmond


Sweets to the Sweet -- Who can resist the allure of confections, especially truffles made from pure Belgian chocolate from confectioner Joseph Schmidt, originator of the egg-shaped truffle, packaged in a handmade keepsake box, $18. Your best girl will enjoy a lovely bouquet of edible hand-wrapped flowers with filled centers by Italian confectioner D'Alessandro in a decorative ceramic vase, $26. A beautiful stained-glass Hanukkah keepsake box is a treasure trove of mint chocolate-filled candies, $20. All from Blue Frog Chocolates (5707 Magazine St., 269-5707).



Time for Love -- Show your affections are as enduring as this meticulously crafted and rare tri-fold clock displaying a banquet scene in enamel and made by a clockmaker in Vienna in the 19th century, $3,600, from M. Pelias Antiques (324 Chartres St., 566-1706).



High Tea -- Tea time will never be stodgy with these two pots, nor will the kitchen where they're displayed when off duty. The functional artworks depict a colorfully dressed woman, $200; or a doggie in a chartreuse tie, $160; from Gentry (200 Broadway St., Broadway Square, 866-8608).



Talk to the Animals -- Animal lovers will be delighted when they unwrap a hand-crafted raku zebra, $59.95; giraffe, $59.95; tiger, $49.95; or multi-colored alligator, $46.95, made by artisans in Africa, especially when it comes with a membership to the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas, the Louisiana Nature Center or all three. Memberships start at $45, call 861-5105. Raku animals are available at the Audubon Zoo Marketplace (6500 Magazine St., 861-5111;

A Touch of Glass -- There's no more enduring gift than one of art, particularly a hand-blown glass creation by internationally exhibited artist Dale Chihuly. Shown here are the "Citron Basket," $2,500, from Chihuly's 2002 Studio Edition series, which is signed and comes with a custom-designed Plexiglas display case and a book; and a special limited-edition holiday blanket inspired by the artist's collection of trade blankets, $500, with proceeds benefiting the Contemporary Arts Center. Available at the CAC (900 Camp St., 528-3805;

Photo courtesy Vespa USA


Silver Streak
-- A favorite since the 1940s, the Italian-made Vespa motorbike by Piaggio now is fully automatic and comes in a range of stylish colors with a 150 cc, four-stroke engine; each can be customized with chrome, two-tone color schemes and more, starting at $3,980, from Vespa New Orleans (3540 Toulouse St., 483-6776;


Special Forces
-- Start a new rivalry in your own house with a gift of a cherry-finish chess board where different branches of the U.S. military face off against each other (choose from Navy, Army, Air Force or Marines playing pieces), $90, from The National D-Day Museum (945 Magazine St., 527-6012;


Painting Up a Storm
-- Louisiana painter George Rodrigue has gained national fame for his artistic settings with a Blue Dog, but his new series of vibrant canvases portray the beauty, colors and movement of the storms that dog this state, such as the 40-inch round "Elena," evoking the swirling movement of a tropical storm, $22,000, from Rodrigue Studios (721 Royal St., 581-4244;


Dazzling Delivery -- Wrap up a gift that will hold its glitter for a lifetime: a total of 3.23-carats of antique cushion-cut diamonds in a hand-engraved platinum setting, $15,000, part of the new series by the jewelry artists at Symmetry Jewelers & Designers (8138 Hampson St., 861-9925)


Sea Rings
-- Pearls have a never-fading beauty that encompasses our fascination with the sea, and Nancy Norton has combined a stunning white South Sea pearl with an 18-karat gold ring setting, $2,425; and a Tahitian South Sea pearl with an 18-karat white gold ring, $1,900, for two solutions to holiday gifts. From Katy Beh (3701 Magazine St., 896-9600;



Peary Beautiful -- No one will be able to take their eyes off your special girl's face when her natural beauty is enhanced with a total weight of 6.47 carats of diamonds in pear-shaped diamond earrings in a 14-karat white gold setting, $34,500, from Don Boudreaux Jewelers (701 Metairie Road, Metairie, 831-2602).

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