That twinkle in her eye? It might have cost $15,000.
Beauty addicts are eyeing a new trend — custom-made, gold-plated contact lenses featuring 18 twinkling diamonds. The eerie and alluring new jewelry line from Shekhar Eye Research satisfies those who aren’t content to simply boast bling on their skin.
Creator Chandrashekhar Chawan tried his hand at gold-dust contact lenses, but they lacked the “sparkle effect” he was looking for. He found his inspiration, oddly, through cosmetic dentistry: Chawan’s wife had diamonds planted on her teeth at her last dentist visit, and he realized that people loved jewels anywhere and everywhere.
“I got mixed responses — some said its looks scary, but most of the people loved it,” said Chawan in a TODAY.com interview. “Bollywood personalities loved the concept, that it’s going to be ‘in thing’ in fashion soon.
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“Look at Lady Gaga and her followers,” Chawan added. “People take time to digest [new fashion], until some celebrity starts using it.”
Chawan claims its “only matter of time” before his creation is a hit, but the public may disagree. Internet critics called the product everything from cringeworthy to “freaky ugly” to downright demonic-looking. “It’s as if someone saw the Swarovski crystal contacts and thought those weren’t extravagantly dumb enough” wrote tech site Gizmodo.
While it may be the most extravagant trend in eyewear, it’s not exactly the first of its kind. TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas recalls hubbub after the release of such products as designer lenses from Christian Dior, colored eye sprays, or Anthony Malliar’s crystal infused lenses. “Some will likely spend to stand out in a crowd. After all, style is all about expression and our eyes may be our most expressive assets,” said Thomas. “Personally, I say leave the sci-fi style to Gaga and Nicki Minaj — except for Halloween, of course!”
Chawan uses Chandra Boston Scleral lenses, a product generally used to treat eye illnesses, to hold the jewelry part of the lenses in such a way that it does not touch on the cornea. He claims the method is “very safe,” but some experts warn that the use of medical lenses for vanity is not without concern.
“We should not introduce harmful foreign objects, however shiny they may be, into our eyes,” said Dr. Rajesh Khanna, a cornea and refractive surgeon, who worries that such lenses require substantial maintenance. Khanna says Boston Scleral lenses are generally prescribed for people with severe eye disease who have no other option.
“It’s a cumbersome, bulky lens, which has to be filled with saline solution and then inserted in the eye,” he said. “People are forced to tolerate these lenses. The risk benefit ratio is vastly different than a person with healthy eyesight.”
But Chawan sees no harm, while acknowledging that the sparkly lenses are a luxury – not a necessity – for those who want to “show off” and attract attention. “We always talk eye to eye,” he told TODAY.com, “and if your eyes are sparkling with diamonds, no one can look away; their eyes will be glued to you and your personality.” In fact, Chawan imagines a future in which his prized lenses replace our dependency on traditional jewelry.
“Instead of offering a diamond ring to propose, people will use diamond-studded contact lenses,” he predicted.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive. Reprints