Around 700,000 years ago, our ancestors hit or rubbed two stones to obtain the sparks that would ignite a flame. Fire lit the interior of their dwellings and provided shelter from the inclement weather and predators.
Our ingenious ancestors soon perfected this percussive technique by hitting a siliceous rock against a piece of iron ore, pyrite or marcasite to produce sparks more quickly.
But it took thousands of years—until the 19th century—for the arrival of the first portable and user-friendly lighter—called Döbereiner lamp. It was invented by Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner in 1823 and remained in production until 1880.
By the early 20th century, we had seen examples of the first lighters as we know them today. These gadgets were equipped with a fuel tank, which could be petrol or gas, and stone that, by friction, caused the spark to ignite the fuel.
Years later, a new invention would come along: a system that used an impact on quartz to produce an electric spark and ignites a flame.
Today many luxury brands manufacture artful lighters with beautiful and sophisticated designs that denote refinement and good taste.
Here are some of the best.
Zippo Classic High Polish
Zippo, the leading manufacturer of lighters worldwide, based in Bradford, Pennsylvania, presented—in his classic collection—a unique model made of polish 18K solid gold, devoid of any drawings or engravings that would represent the classic character of this iconic brand. The Zippo Classic High Polish Lighter comes in a beautiful cherry wood box with a registration certificate and a lifetime warranty. Price: $10,990.
S.T. Dupont Atelier 1953 Cherry Red Natural Lacquer and Yellow Gold
The prestigious French firm of luxury goods S.T. Dupont sells a lighter made with natural Chinese red cherry lacquer and yellow gold, inspired by rare heritage skills dating back to S.T. Dupont’s origins.
The Atelier 1953 is handmade by craftsmen in the firm’s workshop using natural Chinese lacquer applied by hand, layer by layer to create a perfect finish. Flame-proof and highly resilient, each piece becomes an enduring precious object of beauty and timeless elegance. Price: $2,300.
Cartier Black Lacquer and Palladium-Finish Optical illusion Lighter
True to its tradition of excellence and unique taste for beautiful objects, Cartier has created a small accessories collection that includes delicate objects with a touch of timeless elegance, such as this stunning handmade lighter with layers of black lacquer that create an optical illusion of movement. It is finished in silver-white palladium resistant to corrosion. Price: $1,260. ■