Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

Move over AmEx, here are by invitation credit cards that cost $200,000 to make

The new cards are inlaid with diamonds, pearls and precious gems

A picture of a dragon with encrusted diamonds on a gold plated card. Insignia has created fewer than 100 Jewelled cards for clients across the UK, Middle East, Monaco, Russia and US cardholders, who pay a $10,000 annual fee. Courtesy Insignia Group
A picture of a dragon with encrusted diamonds on a gold plated card. Insignia has created fewer than 100 Jewelled cards for clients across the UK, Middle East, Monaco, Russia and US cardholders, who pay a $10,000 annual fee. Courtesy Insignia Group

Metal credit cards are so 2019.

Next year in the US, some of the .001 per cent will be invited to own a customised card inlaid with diamonds, pearls and other precious gems.

At least one very rich Yankees fan got in on the action early.

The diamond and sapphire-studded card, which borrows from the design of one of the team’s championship rings, was on display last month along with other gem-encrusted examples during a private event at New York’s Jewelry Week.

The gathering, showcasing the works of jewellery designer Clarissa Bronfman, was sponsored by Insignia Group, a luxury lifestyle management and travel company from London that is partnering with private equity entity Certares to launch the “Jewelry Card Collection” early next year.

Swiss artisans craft the cards by hand using “especially high-strength gold plates,” Insignia said in its marketing materials. Those approved for the card can meet with a designer to create one customised “for every personality and taste that could include family crests, images of beloved pets, sports logo and more".

The cost to do that can be about $200,000 (Dh734,000).

Handcrafted by highly skilled artisans in Switzerland, the Insignia Jewellery Card is a bespoke masterpiece crafted from 14-carat gold and inlaid with precious stones. Courtesy Insignia Group
Handcrafted by highly skilled artisans in Switzerland, the Insignia Jewellery Card is a bespoke masterpiece crafted from 14-carat gold and inlaid with precious stones. Courtesy Insignia Group

Insignia said it has created fewer than 100 jeweled cards for clients across the UK, Middle East, Monaco, Russia and now the US cardholders, who pay a $10,000 annual fee, charge more than $1 million a year, most of it on travel, said Richard Lewis, Insignia’s president for the US Most clients to insure the cards, which are chip-enabled.

The less visible side of Insignia’s business is its luxury lifestyle and travel service, which debuted in the US about six months ago. In Europe, Insignia said it works with about 800 clients. In the US, it has about 50 clients and aims for a maximum of 300 to 500. At least 20 per cent to 25 per cent of its US customers are billionaires, according to Mr Lewis.

They get a dedicated personal assistant who is available 24/7. The assistants know details as specific as which side of the bed clients sleep on, so they can tell hotels which side to turn down, and may do things like send a client’s personalised toiletry kit to hotels in advance.

A picture of a dragon with encrusted diamonds on a gold plated card. Insignia has created fewer than 100 Jewelled cards for clients across the UK, Middle East, Monaco, Russia and US cardholders, who pay a $10,000 annual fee. Courtesy Insignia Group
A picture of a dragon with encrusted diamonds on a gold plated card. Insignia has created fewer than 100 Jewelled cards for clients across the UK, Middle East, Monaco, Russia and US cardholders, who pay a $10,000 annual fee. Courtesy Insignia Group

“The people we are dealing with, the vast majority are very well-connected in their own right,” Mr Lewis said. “But they don’t like to ask friends for favors all the time.”

Mr Lewis said American Express’s Centurion product – the black card – is Insignia’s closest competitor. Among the rising number of “lifestyle management” companies today, another rival is Quintessentially in London, the luxury concierge service where Lewis worked before joining Insignia.

Winter Kimono. Courtesy Insignia Group
Winter Kimono. Courtesy Insignia Group

Insignia expects to sign with a bank partner in the US in the first quarter, so clients who want one sooner would have to use a European bank.

Mr Lewis said half of the US business is owned by Certares based in New York, which specialises in travel and hospitality. The private equity company is part of an investor group that owns a 50 per cent stake in Amex’s business-travel division.

Turtle Madagascar. Courtesy Insignia Group
Turtle Madagascar. Courtesy Insignia Group

Updated: December 22, 2019 02:50 PM

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