From the ridiculous to the stupid

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By Becky Cassell, Editor

It always seems as if something breaks down or needs replacing whenever large bills are due.

If it's time to pay the homeowner's insurance premium, then one of our vehicles needs new tires. If it's time for property tax bills, then the hot water heater goes out. That's just the way life is.

Somehow, though, while there might not always be money for the things we want, there always seems to be enough for the things we need.

But for those people who have more money than they know what to do with, companies are now making more and more "must have" items.

For instance, a recent story on the ABC News Web site reports that Casa Gi now offers diamond-studded iPod-compatible earphones made of 18K gold. The tiny ear buds feature 118 tiny diamonds.

Then there's the $10,000 box of chocolates on sale at England's Harrods department store. The box includes 49 hand-wrapped chocolates made by Lebanese chocolatier Patchi. Each chocolate is decorated with gold as well as a Swarovski crystal flower or handmade silk rose.

Another spectacular item for the choco-holic is the Frozen Haute Chocolate at the Serendipity-3 restaurant in New York. According to Guinness World Records, the $25,000 frozen hot chocolate is classified as the most expensive dessert in the world.

Or how about a $5,000 hamburger? According to the ABC report, Chef Hubert Keller at the Fleur de Lys now offers a foie gras and black truffle-stuffed Kobe burger served on a brioche truffle bun and garnished with a special sauce, which also has truffles. Accompanying the meal is a bottle of Chateau Petrus 1995.

How about a mixture of bling and Hot Wheels? Mattel has produced a car to commemorate the production of its four billionth Hot Wheels toy. The 18-karat white gold and jewel car is valued at $140,000 and has 2,700 diamonds weighing nearly 23 carats in total weight.

If that doesn't grab you in the toy department, there's also a glass Scrabble board with more than 30,000 Swarovski crystals on display at the American International Toy Fair in New York. The board was created by Hasbro to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the game. With an estimated value of $20,000, the game was auctioned on eBay to benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Of course, if you're into fancy underwear, Triumph debuted a diamond-studded thong at the Singapore Fashion Festival last year. Valued at a mere $121,106, this minute scrap of fabric is decorated with 518 diamonds totaling 30 carats.

But with the current recession we're experiencing, surely some of these companies will focus on a few more down-to-earth items.

As many of us clip coupons on a weekly basis, perhaps next on the list is a jewel- and diamond-encrusted coupon-holder?