In the vehicle-adornment industry, modesty is not a common word. Let’s face it - no one buys a 24 carat gold suspension springs or a bejeweled wheel rims or a platinum steering wheel to keep a low profile. That is simply preposterous!
Creating auto parts that are glitzier than the last revealed has always been the challenge for companies like the H&R Gold and LP Wheel Group which is known for producing remarkable car parts and accessories that only the privilege few can afford while the rest of us are left admiring and gawking. Tony Lee, proud owner of LP Wheel is popular among car enthusiasts for his line of Chevrolet and Ford emblems that are studded with multicolored Swarovski crystals which are sold under the IcedOutEmz brand.
In preparation for the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show held last November in Las Vegas, Mr. Lee decided to create something more elaborate and more expensive than what he usually does—a diamond-festooned, 18 karat white gold shift knob priced at $150,000. According to Mr. Lee, “I wanted people to feel luxury in the palm of their hand. People wear jewelry in their car, so I came up with the idea that the car should wear jewelry, too. ”
And since he knows that only few can afford such luxurious auto parts he has chosen to design the knob for pricey vehicles like the Bentley Continental GT which according to him, “For the past couple of years, the most popular car for the big dogs has been the Bentley Continental GT, ” with a retail price of about $165,000.
Mr. Lee ordered a spare knob from Bentley Motors—a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group and recipient of quality Volkswagen parts like Volkswagen timing chain. The knob featured a sandwich-like design with a metal alloy strip bordered by leather grips. To create his diamond studded masterpiece, Mr. Lee removed the center strip and created a mold out of its indistinctly curvy shape. He used the mold to create an identically sized and contoured band in 10 ounces of gold.
Mr. Lee has hired a professional jeweler to affix the 30 carats of diamonds into the golden strip employing a technique that is similar to the one used for wedding rings. Each of the diamond used is 2.5 millimeters in diameter, the size which according to Mr. Lee would create the maximum effect aside from that much larger stones would have created ugly gaps around the knob’s edges on the other hand smaller stones wouldn’t appear stunning enough to the eye.
The diamond studded shift knob took 100 hours of labor to complete and was finished just in time for the trade show where it was placed in a glass museum case, guarded by a similarly stunning model clad in a skimpy dress. Mr. Lee cheerfully said, “Everybody’s jaw was dropping at how expensive it was. ”
The knob was so expensive that no takers as of this time were reported but Mr. Lee has decided to put it on display at the company’s headquarters in Las Vegas. Mr. Lee has also added that the publicity generated by the product’s mere existence has been worth the effort and investment. As a matter of fact, a lot of publicists have been calling Mr. Lee about making custom knobs. “We could easily do a custom for $5,000 depending on the size and clarity of the stones and the size of the knob, ” Mr. Lee added. But in case someone would want the original, Mr. Lee explained that he has become reluctant to part with it, “I would rather just make another piece with the same amount of carats. But if the price is right, well, everything is negotiable. ” 620
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Growing up with three brothers, Natalie Anderson became exposed early to the world of automobiles. This 29-year-old account manager now dreams of having her very own top-of-the-line vintage car.