With the holiday season underway, the wife of one prominent local CEO plans to give out charm pins from Aaron Basha Fine Jewelry in New York at $17,000 a pop.

Meanwhile, show-biz types at Creative Artists Agency, the William Morris Agency, Virgin Records and PolyGram will be sending out gift baskets from Fred Segal on Melrose, filled with French candles and hand-carved picture frames that range in price from $100 to $2,000.

Others are flocking to Louis Vuitton for $125 pouchette bags for their colleagues and friends.

Yes, it's Christmas time in L.A. And to hear retailers and analysts tell it, the region's well-heeled are pulling out the stops.

The hot gifts for the rich and famous this year range from top-of-the-line electronic gadgets and jewelry to special-edition automobiles, hand-made Louis Vuitton humidors and life-size carousels.

Whatever they're buying, people appear willing to spend more money than in years past, according to Deloitte & Touche LLP. In fact, this season, holiday shoppers will shell out 4.5 percent more money than last year. And the increase likely will be much higher in the luxury market.

"You are going to see excellent results at both ends of the spectrum," said Richard Giss, partner in the trade retail service group at Deloitte & Touche in Los Angeles. "But when you get to the high end, price will not be a concern. It will be a very good year for the luxury market."

Upscale retailers say business already is booming.

"Our local business is up more than 60 percent," said Ron Michaels, manager of Louis Vuitton in Beverly Hills. "Our clientele wants to give something personalized and special. Our business has really been snowballing."

The store's most popular items this year include a one-of-a-kind, $35,000 hand-made humidor that holds 1,000 cigars, and expensive writing implements, including a crocodile leather pen that goes for $1,180.

Neiman Marcus, known for its over-the-top catalog items, already has sold out on a special-edition, $34,950 Audi TT Coupe. All 100 sold in a single day, and the item no longer is available. Neiman's also is selling a Harley Davidson bicycle for $2,000, Barry Kieselstein bags for $2,100 and Cracker Jack "surprise" jewelry, which comes in an actual Cracker Jack box cufflinks for men ($950) or a ring for women ($400).

For the really extravagant, Neiman's catalog offers a life-size carousel for $300,000; a child's bedroom recreated in the Wizard of Oz theme for $150,000; and a re-creation of the famous Lalique Fish Fountain in Paris, starting at $150,000. Meanwhile, Tiffany & Co. is offering a diamond and emerald necklace for $615,000.

Other popular, if less pricey, items this year will be the Ionic Breeze Silent Air Purifier from The Sharper Image that retails for $229.

"We can't keep it on our shelves," said Lou Sourcie, a spokesman for Sharper Image Corp. in San Francisco. "We are having a terrific year and the season hasn't even started."

Another big seller is expected to be the Truth Quest Phone, which monitors stress in a person's voice by signaling green for least stressful and red for most stressful. If a person is fibbing, the phone's owner is supposedly able to detect it. The phones costs $129. The smallest digital camcorder in the world is also expected to be a big seller, which runs about $1,495.

Satin and mink throws for $555, cashmere sweaters for around $1,200 and pillar candles for $175, all from Fred Segal, are flying off the shelves, according to Karen Meena, general manager of Fred Segal on Melrose.

Fred Segal is typically popular with Hollywood gift-givers. This year, Whoopi Goldberg will be giving baskets filled with Kiehls bath and shower gel to some of her lucky friends. Leeza Gibbons prefers hand-made hair accessories and leather-bound journals. Candice Bergen bought several pairs of $72 Nick and Nora pajamas for gifts this year. And Rhea Pearlman gives out the hand-carved frames by Jay Strongwater that cost anywhere from $100 to $300.

"We are incredibly busy and the season hasn't even started," Meena said. "I think it started earlier this year. People are spending way more money and our sales are up."

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