A pillow valued at thousands of dollars: Why buying eiderdown is so expensive

White pillow with white sheets and bedding


My current pillow was starting to feel flat and worn out, so like most people nowadays I started my search on Amazon for a new pillow. While browsing around, I stumbled upon a ridiculoulsy expensive pillow. The first thought that came to my mind was that this had to be a mistake. I decided to set aside some time to dig into this and tell you about my findings.

What’s in the price?

What could make a pillow worth thousands of dollars, short of being stuffed with cash or a work of modern art- neither of which this pillow is? I see that the pillow is made with silk on the outside, which I’ve always known to be slightly more expensive than cotton, but this much more expensive? It doesn’t add up to me. Directing my eyes to the product description, I’m now seeing something of interest that I have never heard of, and may just be the lead I’m looking for. The first bullet point says

  • Grade A Iceland Eiderdown

What’s eiderdown?

Given the context, I’m thinking it’s a special type of down, the comforting and warm inner layer of feathers typically plucked from ducks & geese that I do know usually fetches a higher premium than something like cotton. The first result on Google takes me to Eiderdown.com, which looks to be a private business in Iceland selling none other than….eiderdown! I’m first greeted by this hook on their homepage:

What has been the treasure of kings for centuries and is even today rarer than a new Ferrari?

The answer is an eiderdown comforter.

Now I’m wondering what makes it so rare and…of course I’d still like to know what eiderdown actually is. The site doesn’t disappoint, as the next line reads

The eider is a large, arctic duck , somateria mollissima in Latin, which has been protected by law in Iceland for over a century.

OK, that makes sense. Eiderdown is down that specifically is pulled off of an Eider duck. Speaking of which, I wonder what they look like?

Male eider duck That’s a male one. Cute little guy. The feather colors remind me of a skunk. That’s not an insult as I like the colors- it’s just an observation.

How rare is eiderdown?

The opening line from the website that I linked above about it being rarer than a Ferrari was fun and all, but it sounds like marketing speak. Thankfully, the owner of the site goes into more detail in a separately linked PDF that answers everything I’ve ever wanted to know about eiderdown, including the circumstances behind its rarity.

The total worldwide annual harvest of eiderdown could be carried by one small truck, - while the total annual worldwide goose down production is counted in tens of thousands of tons or ship loads

That certainly sounds rare, but this fact alone doesn’t make it valuable. Ultimately, I’m trying to understand what makes this eiderdown pillow I found worth thousands of dollars. There must be some properties about the down that comes from an eider duck that makes it miles ahead in superiority as compared to down from all other kinds of birds.

Why is eiderdown expensive?

The aforementioned PDF, which I’m now beginning to understand is aptly titled, is called Eiderdown - why is it so outrageously expensive. Early on it was established that eiderdown is extremely rare, and now I’m finding out why. According to this document, it’s the only type of down that is harvested from the wild. This makes sense, since the eider duck is a protected species. In addition to this, the down is humanely harvested as it naturally falls from the female eider’s underbelly- as opposed to being plucked. All of this sounds very labor intensive, and this article from Iceland Review confirms that.

There is no industrial production of eiderdown in Iceland, that is, the down is hand-picked from the birds’ nests, cleaned and washed before it is put into duvets or exported for further production in other countries.

- Iceland Review

As I suspected, there are also characterstics that set eiderdown apart from other types of down. The write up continues with establishing that eiderdown is among the lightest of downs, therefore less of it is required to fill up your comforter or pillow. The eider is an arctic bird, so as the document lays out, it sensibly follows that its down is also exceptionally warm. Beyond being warm and light, I think the largest selling point for myself would be the fact that eiderdown has properties that cause it to clump together to resemble a single larger material. I remember having once gone on a camping trip just outside of Yosemite and using a down sleeping bag. I had to keep fluffing and adjusting it as the down had a tendency to separate causing flat spots. Having a down pillow or comforter where I wouldn’t have to do that all of the time sounds like a luxury, and there’s no question that the price reflects that. That being said if I were to spend this much on a pillow, you can rest assured that it would stay within the confines of my bedroom and not be exposed to the great outdoors. That’s amusing to me, seeing as that’s where the internals of this pillow originate from.

Wrap Up

I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to afford all eiderdown bedding and that I’ll be writing a post here telling you about my experience with it. As of today though, I’m not yet Mr. Money Bags and can’t tell you firsthand whether or not this pillow is worth it. I figure I’ll have to start small and first aim for a comparatively more modest priced pillow made by the same manufacturer, before I move up to the big leagues. Maybe I’ll be able to afford it if I stop using Uber.

I had a blast discovering eiderdown and learning about the reason behind its rarity and price due to the way its produced, so I hope you did as well. Did any of you already know about eiderdown? Or are you hearing of it for the first time like myself? Also if you own any products made with eiderdown, please let me know- are they worth it? Let everyone know in the comments below!