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HOLIDAYS

Eight gifts for your well-to-do friends that can't be found at the mall

There's an art to finding unique, thoughtful gifts that will be treasured for years to come

Just southwest of Halifax is Kaulbach Island, a 57-acre property with 11 bedrooms, two sandy beaches and a beach cottage. The cost is $7-million.

What do you buy for those who are more than able to purchase their own luxury goods? There's an art to finding unique, thoughtful gifts with a je ne sais quoi appeal that will be treasured for years to come.

Here are a few ideas that might help would-be Santas, but you won't find these gifts at the mall. Some might be tricky to wrap, but we're sure you'll find a way to present them in a memorable way.

This chocolate truffle is made by a Connecticut chocolatier and costs $320. It has a real French truffle inside.

Chocolate

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Billing its La Madeline au Truffe as "the most extravagant chocolate in the world," this artisanal treat made by Knipschildt Chocolatier in Connecticut is beautifully packaged on a bed of sugar pearls in a silver box. The cost? Just $320 per truffle.

These made-to-order treats start with a French Perigord truffle (a rare mushroom) that is covered with a ganache of dark chocolate, heavy cream, sugar, truffle oil and vanilla, then enrobed in dark Valrhona chocolate and rolled in fine cocoa powder.

Because these truffles have a short seven-day shelf life, they must be shipped using next-day delivery.

This quilted womens après-ski jacket from Moncler is made with fur and sheepskin. It retails for $4,445.

Winter jackets

With Canada Goose parkas now ubiquitous on city streets, how do you stand out among the well-heeled in Yorkville or Whistler?

A Moncler coat, named after the mountain village in France where the company began in 1952 as a sleeping bag manufacturer, will make a stylish statement. The company says its down coats are made with 90 per cent goosedown clusters for a high fill volume, resulting in jackets that are soft, light and warm.

Consider the Montblanc ($4,445), a quilted womens après-ski jacket made with fur and sheepskin, or the men's "classic '60s" Inuit parka ($5,505), with a "vibrantly reflective silvery laminate – a hallmark of spacesuits," according to the company's website.

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This four-bedroom castle in northern Italy costs $1.51-million, and it doesn’t need any work.

A castle

If you treat your spouse like a queen or king, here's a gift you'll never be able to top: a castle in northern Italy. In the European market, where the priciest Sotheby's International castle listing costs more than $77-million, this four-bedroom property is much more reasonable, at $1.51-million (€1-million), and it requires no work. It's surrounded by vineyards and cornfields and has ensuite baths, air conditioning, a hydraulic glass lift, a pool and a dungeon.

The top floor of the four-storey tower, used as an artist's studio today, offers panoramic views of the countryside and the Alps.

This bronze sculpture, called Monumental Black Bear by Peter Sawatzky, is available for $170,000 at Toronto’s Loch Gallery.

Art

Group of Seven paintings regularly fetch jaw-dropping prices at auction; Heffel Fine Art Auction House recently sold a Lawren Harris painting titled Mountains East of Maligne Lake for more than $3-million.

If you missed that Canadian masterpiece, Heffel also has a "buy now" option, with Lake Superior by A.Y. Jackson offered at $61,250.

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For fans of modern sculpture, Peter Sawatzky's 2016 bronze Monumental Black Bear is available for $170,000 at Toronto's Loch Gallery and would make a memorable addition to an urban garden.

This men’s briefcase from Hermès, made from black or brown Togo calfskin, is priced at $10,000.

Leather goods

Hermès, maker of the famed Birkin handbag that sells for $10,000 to $175,000 (if you can find one), has other luxury leather goods as well for both men and women. Consider one of these options from the Hermès Canada store:

  • The Sac a Depeches 38 is a medium-sized men’s briefcase made from black or brown Togo calfskin. Price: $10,000.
  • The Kelly Classic wallet or evening clutch is made from Mysore goatskin with a palladium plated closure. It has 12 credit card slots, two pockets for bills and a coin purse. Price: $4,625.

The Emotive Robotic Avatar from Hammacher Schlemmer can convey five nuanced emotions. It stands 137 cm high, weighs 34 kilograms and costs $83,500.

Two robots

Hammacher Schlemmer began selling hard-to-find, high-quality tools and equipment in New York City in 1848. The company still offers unique wares, from children's toys to an adult-sized Celebrity Robotic Avatar ($443,500) that has appeared in movies and television shows and is the only robot to be admitted into the Screen Actors Guild. It can "engage in clever impromptu banter" and dance solo or with a partner, or be controlled remotely.

The Emotive Robotic Avatar, which is controlled remotely, is able to convey five nuanced emotions (happy, confused, angry, sad and embarrassed) using a combination of eye expressions, antenna colours, body language and the digitally modulated voice of its operator. This robotic puppet stands 137 cm high and weighs 34 kilograms. It is made to order and sells for $83,500.

Bentley introduced its new SUV, the Bentayga, in 2016. It goes for $241,900.

A new ride

Bentley has joined other luxury auto makers such as Porsche, Jaguar and Lamborghini in offering a luxury SUV.

The company introduced the Bentayga in 2016, boasting that its 6.0-litre engine makes it the fastest SUV in the world with acceleration of 0 to 100 kilometres in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 301 km/h. It's also available with a 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine. The price is $241,900.

The SUV has the usual luxury finishings offered by the iconic British marque, from intricate detailing in its wood, metal and leather trims to the large sunroof and active anti-roll control system – perfect for off-roading or luxury rides in the city.

Just southwest of Halifax is Kaulbach Island, a 57-acre property with 11 bedrooms, two sandy beaches and a beach cottage. The cost is $7-million.

An island

It can be a grind to live in a big city with all of the unavoidable rat-race hassles, no matter how comfortable your economic situation is. The solution? A getaway with no neighbours.

Kaulbach Island, an hour southwest of Halifax, is in Nova Scotia's picturesque South Shore near Mahone Bay, with a sailing club and golf course nearby. The 57-acre property has mature trees, meadows, ponds, two sandy beaches, double garage with guest quarters, beach cottage, farmhouse, a few outbuildings and a wharf with deep anchorage.

The 11,040-square-foot main home has 11 bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Kaulbach Island is accessible by boat only. Price: a cool $7-million.

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