Portrait photographer Monica Rich Kosann came across a cigarette case from the twenties adorned with a green enameled tree, refashioned it to hold two pictures, and sold the frame to a client. Demand grew and requests started outnumbering the vintage cases she was able to snap up, so she traveled to Florence and found a family storing original molds, impressions, and tools. Now the Florentine artisans spend weeks making each sterling case, handcrafting the enamel (a process in which glass powder is repeatedly layered on the case and fired in a kiln), cooling the case in water, and then filing, engraving, and polishing it. (You can even customize the case color.) Every clasp is accented with an amethyst, onyx, yellow topaz, green tourmaline, or blue sapphire. "This is something your children will have one day as a family heirloom," Kosann says. "I've seen people cry when they get one."
Frames from $6,800 to $8,200. Available through Monica Rich Kosann at 800-251-3141 or 203-972-9193; www.mrkphoto.com.