Neiman Marcus unveils its 79th Christmas book

One of the sure signs that the holiday season is just around the corner is the unveiling of the annual Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. The luxury retailer released the 2005 edition of the book on Tuesday and among its fantasy luxury offerings is a collection of jewels worth $1.2 million.

The jewelry collection contains eight “significant” pieces that span the last three centuries. A handwritten description of its provenance accompanies each piece. The jewelry is delivered by courier and wrapped simply, giving no hint of the extravagant offering inside. The jewelry collection can be found on page 88 of the catalog.

First published in 1926 as a 16-page catalog, the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book was initially intended as a Christmas card to the store’s best customers. The book has since evolved into a legendary source for alluring and mystical gifts that marks the start of the holiday season.

“This year’s collection of fantasy gifts is a spectacular array of more of what our valued customers have grown to love and anticipate year after year,” said Brendan Hoffman, president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Direct.

While the Christmas Book features more than 700 items, including a $15 paperweight, the company focuses on nine “fantasy” items, including the jewelry collection. Among them:

* A $1.5 million private concert by Sir Elton John for you and 500 of your closest friends. The money for the hour-and-a-half performance will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

* A $3.5 million M400 Skycar prototype—the world’s first personal vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

* A $65,000 Neiman Marcus (R) special-edition 2007 Lexus GS 450h, the world’s first luxury hybrid performance sedan.

* A kid-scale backyard railroad that starts at $200,000.

* A $65,000 life-size Indy race car simulator.

The 79th edition of book will be distributed to two million homes throughout the United States and worldwide. All of the selections in this year’s edition are showcased online on the Neiman Marcus Web site http://www.neimanmarcus.com.