Christmas and Chanukah are such a special time of year, it seems as if almost anything is possible. People care more, give more, love more and wish for more. It’s a time to dream big, live large and fantasize about the world we live in and all of the awe-inspiring trappings that go along with it.

Whether you long for world peace, dream of going home for the holidays or yearn for that one amazing gift (the one you weren’t generous enough to buy yourself this year,) there’s definitely something for everyone to wish for during the holidays. While I adore time with friends, family and want everyone to be happy and healthy, I’m also eternally wide-eyed and inquisitive about the world’s most fascinating and fashion-forward gifts.

I have the best job for that curiosity, too. All year long, not only do I get to meet and interview the most provocative, influential and amazing designers on the planet, I get to interpret their creations for the South Florida fashionista. During that time, while I’m meeting, greeting and discovering the latest and greatest in clothes, bags, shoes and accessories, I diligently keep an eye out for the most unique, decadent and over-the-top items.

Of all the special things I’m able to unearth, I choose one; bequeathing it the title “The Ultimate Fantasy Gift.” It becomes my white unicorn of sorts: you know, the unattainable, but I don’t let that stop me. It becomes my holiday mission: find it, experience it and write about it for “Shireen’s Favorite Things.”

This year, the coveted title of “The Ultimate Fantasy Gift” (drum roll please) goes to the uber-magnificent, highly-creative, daringly-fabulous CRAZY SKULL watch. It’s designed by the Swiss luxury jewelry company, “de GRISOGONO;” more specifically, by its Founder and Creative Director (black diamond specialist,) Fawaz Gruosi.

I first spied the timepiece on social media on the likes of famous fashion models, Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss. I was immediately hypnotized by its bold character, sheer decadence and unapologetic rareness. So imagine my delight when one of my BFF’s, Jessie Rosario, told me that the CRAZY SKULL watch was, indeed, within my reach.

According to her “inside” fashion sources, the breathtaking piece of jewelry would be paying a visit to the Magic City at the beginning of the holiday season. It was more than likely coming from de GRISOGONO’S Paris showroom. “How romantic,” I squealed, as Jessie explained the details.

In honor of its arrival, Miami’s most che’che’ public relations company, “Tara, Ink.,” was holding a noon day soiree at de GRISOGONO at the Bal Harbour Shops, followed by a relaxing sit down lunch at Makoto. Jessie and I immediately RSVP’d and cleared our schedules; after all, “diamonds are a girls best friend.”

Things didn’t go exactly as planned, though. For reasons unbeknownst to us, the CRAZY SKULL watch hit a snafu in customs and couldn’t make it to its own party. The weird little holiday hitch would work in our favor; we just didn’t know it at the time. Despite being slightly disappointed that afternoon, we were still captivated by the other spectacular jewelry on display.

About a week later, Jessie called me with a major fashion news flash. She hissed into the phone like it was the secret of the century: “The CRAZY SKULL watch has finally arrived Stateside, but it’s only here for a few short days!” I groaned in disbelief. I couldn’t believe I was so close to “The Ultimate Fantasy Gift.” What’s more, I couldn’t conceivably imagine how to make the time to “experience it” with my already bursting blog schedule.

Jessie refused to take “no” for an answer. She knew how badly I wanted to get close to my elusive white unicorn – so she pushed. In her best editor-in-chief voice from the movie, “The Devil Wears Prada,” she said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. In the name of fashion, just do it, Sandoval!” I laughed, cried, moaned and finally agreed.

I didn’t know where the time would come from, but at its core, this was ultimately a watch blog (the irony wasn’t lost on me.) The next day, Jessie informed me that she had arranged for me to meet with her public relations friends at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour, where they had agreed to dress me in a ball gown of my choice for the blog photos. Jessie thought it was imperative to look like Cinderella to truly experience “The Ultimate Fantasy Gift.”

“If you’re going to be wearing a million dollar watch,” she said, “you may as well dress like it, too.” God, I love that woman. So I chose a powdery pink dress designed by Carolina Herrera (pictured in the blog.) Its slight underlay of bronzy gold and delicate beading reminded me of an antique Christmas ornament.

So, for the second time in a month, I found myself at de GRISOGONO. This time, though, I was dressed to the nines and dripping with over a million dollars worth of diamonds. I was gobsmacked at the opulence. It was nothing short of spectacular. I was a bit nervous, too: the dress, the jewels, the camera, the security. I thought about making a run for it, but knew all the fashion paraphernalia would weigh me down. Ha!

Not only did I get to wear the white diamond CRAZY SKULL watch, but upon my arrival, they informed me that I would get to wear the black diamond one as well. So, I did what any fashion diva in her right mind would do: I decided to wear them at the same time. You only live once!

For the record, I’ve never seen or worn a piece of jewelry so impressive. It’s actually hard to find the words to express it. That’s why I asked Michael Quagliato of de GRISOGONO to help me.  

Shireen Sandoval: What makes the CRAZY SKULL watch so special?
Michael Quagliato: The watch is special because of its unique design and craftsmanship. It’s a collaboration of the de GRISOGONO art of jewelry design combined with our watchmaking expertise.

SS: Who designed the CRAZY SKULL watch?
MQ: It was conceived by our Founder & Creative Director, Fawaz Gruosi, then brought to life by our ateliers in Geneva by master jewellers and top watchmakers. Mr. Gruosi saw a lot of skulls out there, but they all seemed too serious; he wanted to call his creation, “Happy Skull,” because he wanted a design that would make him laugh. He wanted something “unique, precious, mischievous and bold, conveying positivity and amusement.”

SS: It has some hidden secrets to it! Tell me about those.
MQ: Mr. Gruosi envisioned a playful detail for this funny face by creating a complex mechanism that allows the jaw to open, the tongue to stick out and then close again at will. The CRAZY SKULL smiling mouth is ensconced in an invisible setting of 7.70 carats of white diamonds, which is set into a custom ‘denture’ entirely devised by de GRISOGONO. It took nine months to create it; when its jaw opens and its tongue comes out it shows off sixty-six pink sapphires or rubies.

SS: How much does the CRAZY SKULL cost?
MQ: There are three versions; a white diamond, a black diamond and a ruby CRAZY SKULL ranging up to $844,000.00

SS: Why is it so expensive?
MQ: The first thing you might notice is the nose; a 1.50 carat diamond which was carved from a 3.00 carat block of diamond (instead of simply sourcing a large diamond for the creation,) but the closer you look, you really start to see the details that really create the value. There are twenty different sizes of gemstones used, and each one had to be set in such a manner as to allow the maximum reflection of light to the eye. There are no spaces visible between the diamonds or rubies, yet the skull is incredibly strong. The design of each CRAZY SKULL watch took over a year of research and over 250 hours to assemble. There will only be 3 CRAZY SKULLS of white diamond, black diamond or ruby created by de GRISOGONO.

SS: Tell me a little more about your brand and its concept.
MQ: de GRISOGONO high jewelry, fine jewelry and timepieces are the intuitive process of Mr. Gruosi. He listens to his inner voice, ignoring current trends and remains loyal to secular traditions. As a luxury Swiss jeweller and watchmaker, de GRISOGONO has received a lot of attention and praise. Many editors and fans have supported our 21-year-old brand for unusual and daring designs, precious combinations of colors, materials and creative innovations. The attention that has been brought to our brand from movie stars, press and the admirers of fine design support the appreciation of the art of de GRISOGONO – as 400 to 500 one-of-a-kind items are created each year, never to be repeated.

SS: What’s another fabulous gift idea from de GRISOGONO?
MQ: I’m most drawn to the ALLEGRA collection, named after our founder’s daughter. There are many beautiful rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and watches. They’re all interpretations of a father’s love manifested in the jewelry and watch collection; each item says what often times is hard to express, our love for our children.

SS: What do the holidays mean to you?
MQ: I love the holidays, it’s such an entertaining time of year! Family conspiracies to find the perfect gift for that one person, the aromatic smells from the kitchen at 2am, the communal lack of sleep by everyone trying to cram 52 weeks into 4 weeks. All of that with the very best of every day; family time with my wife, daughter, son and three dogs. It’s heaven on earth.

SS: What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
MQ: The Christmas family hug we do every year. Corny, but true.

Nothing is too corny, carefree or CRAZY SKULL-like for the holidays. After all, don’t we all relish in the belief that a jolly old man in a fuzzy red suit (accompanied by reindeer) could bring us exactly what we’ve been dreaming of? I know I do. No matter what you’re wishing for this holiday season, big or small, I hope it finds you, because “The Ultimate Fantasy Gift” should really be YOUR favorite thing. Happy Holidays!
Twitter @deGRISOGONO

Gown provided by Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour
Shot on location at de GRISOGONO/Bal Harbour Shops
wardrobe & blog efforted/arranged/styled by Jessie Rosario  

Twitter @ShireenSandoval
IG @ShireenSandoval

photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Twitter @todp_photo
IG @Tod_p

Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Twitter @Odettehernandz
IG Odett_Herndz

Editor: Matthew Auerbach

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