By  on August 4, 2008

The economy may be ailing, but the rich are still, well, rich, and purveyors of six figure watches and jewelry continue to report brisk sales. So what does $500,000 buy these days? Typically, a one-of-a-kind, gem-drenched piece, packaged in an equally spectacular case. Brands such as Chopard, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier pride themselves on the intricate, custom-made boxes they commission for their most luxe offerings. Watchmaker Girard-Perregaux recently hand-delivered a $625,000 watch to a client—in a box that cost $10,000 to create.

“A piece of high jewelry is truly a work of art,” says Marc Hruschka, U.S. president and chief executive officer of Chopard, which tapped an Austrian artisan to create inlaid wood boxes (above). “The presentation needs to match the piece itself.”

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