When it comes to holiday gift-giving, no one may have it harder than the world's growing ranks of the uber-rich.
That's because these superwealthy citizens are under pressure to find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts that will wow their friends and family. Run-of-the-mill diamond necklaces from Tiffany's just won't cut it. Instead, the wealthy want to provide a "bespoke" item or experience, meaning something that's handmade and unique, experts say.
"More and more, it's either about having something that is bespoke -- so that you can be totally certain that not only is it of the finest quality and standards but the recipient will be the only one to have it -- or it's about being the first to have certain items," said Marcel Knobil, the founder of VeryFirstTo, a site that specializes in luxury products and experiences.
Often, that means the rich are leaning toward giving expensive trips or experiences as holiday presents, although plenty of custom-made jewel-encrusted swag is also on offer this season. The ranks of the world's billionaires have exploded during the past two decades, leading to comparisons's with the last century's Gilded Age. More than 900 self-made billionaires have created fortunes worth more than $3.6 trillion during the past two decades, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
When it comes to travel, companies are courting the uber-wealthy with custom-made vacations and specially tailored airline trips, such as Etihad Airways' The Residence, which is described as the "only three-room suite in the sky." For more than $60,000 for a round-trip ticket between New York and Abu Dhabi, travelers are treated to their own butler and private chef.
"There's a high-net-worth philosophy that it's not necessarily about having," Knobil said. "It's about what you do and enriching you and your family's life, and weaving your experiences with a really special life journey."
Read on to learn about 7 holiday gifts for when money is no object.
A bespoke diamond-dust filled snow globe: $5,000
While members of the 99 percent may like to shake up their snow globes at the holidays, the superrich will out-sparkle them with this bespoke item. For $5,000, wealthy customers can order a customized snow globe created by artist Leah Andrews, who is described as the "snow globe maker to the stars."
Andrews customizes tiny figures that resemble clients' family members and then adds diamond snow to provide extra bling. On top of that, five 0.07 carat diamonds are included in the scenery, while five loose diamonds are also part of the snow scene.
"We look at well known Christmas icons and brainstorm how can we really push the envelop on the icon, and deliver in a form that is truly luxurious and never been done to that standard," said the VeryFirstTo's Knobil, which is selling the bespoke snow globe this season.
A trip to the edge of space: $90,000
Talk about an out-of-this-world trip for a member of the well-heeled set. Neiman Marcus is offering what it says is a two-part adventure that will take someone both very rich and very brave -- and five friends and relatives -- to the edge of space.
The trip includes a three-night visit to the Miraval Resort in Arizona, where six clients will spend time with the chase and recovery team of World View, which has created the experience. Guests will also visit Biosphere 2, the experimental Earth systems research center. The second part of the trip includes liftoff in a high-altitude balloon, which will take the six guests 100,000 feet above the Earth.
A dream trip to India: $400,000
No need to rough it while traveling in India. This $400,000 12-day trip to India includes travel on a private jet and private vintage cars, according to Neiman Marcus.
Guests will stay in style in cities including Mumbai and Delhi, have dinner on a private balcony overlooking the Taj Mahal and receive private dance lessons in Bollywood-style moves.
Private dinner at the Tower of London: $17,900
This one-of-a-kind dinner will allow a superrich customer and 11 friends and family to sup at the Tower of London while surrounded by 12,000 diamonds, according to Truly Experiences, a company that's dedicated to creating gifts that provide lifetime experiences to the well-heeled.
Guests will be greeted by a Beefeater at the Tower's West Gate and given a short tour before heading to the Jewel House, where they will be given a private tour of the Crown Jewels. Dinner will be served at the Martin Tower, which was where Colonel Blood tried to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671. At the end of dinner, guests watch the Ceremony of the Keys, when the Tower of London is locked up for the night.
Behind-the-scenes tour of Sotheby’s: $22,331
This tour of the international auction house includes a private lunch and a special masterclass and handling session from one of Sotheby's experts. Devotees can ask for a class in a particular specialist department, such as contemporary art or jewelry, according to Truly Experiences.
Sotheby's chef will cater the private lunch, held in the auction house's private dining room, which is lined with Damien Hirst Butterfly paintings. The lunch will also include a wine tasting with vintages picked by the head of Sotheby's wine department.
A private destination picnic in The Hamptons: $21,775
This bespoke event includes a private chartered seaplane, which will take up to six guests to a secluded beach in The Hamptons, the seashore resort area favored by New York's wealthy set.
This isn't a paper-plate type of picnic, however. A catered meal will be served by staff on china, while guests will lounge on designer blankets and be surrounded by flower arrangements, according to Truly Experiences. Set up, clean up and live music are provided, as well as a beach bonfire.
A Christmas tree star with 270 diamonds: $947,705
Want something truly spectacular for the top of your tree? Then the world's most glamorous Christmas Tree star may be called for.
The gold-and-silver star is encrusted with more than 280 diamonds, for a total of more than 12 carats, according to VeryFirstTo, which has created the ornament with jeweler 77 Diamonds. The central diamond is a five-carat jewel, which can be unscrewed from the star and worn as a necklace, Knobil said.
"What we're finding is that some items which are precious-gem oriented are bought as investments more than anything else," he said. He added that a fair number of the wealthy are "very happy to spend significant amounts on luxury items."