Handbags & Accessories

A Guide To The Rarest and Most Expensive Hermès Bags

By Lucy Bishop
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Birkin Shadow

One of the main factors that attracts people to Hermès bags is their timelessness. With design aspects stretching back over a hundred years, and a commitment to the highest quality of craft and materials, Hermès bags, the Birkin and Kelly in particular, have stood the test of time and proven their staying power. But not all Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are classic designs. The French fashion house also releases limited edition versions, or examples in rare seasonal colors and materials, that keep Hermès collectors always wanting more. Keep reading to discover a list of the most rare and expensive Hermès Birkins, Hermès Kellys, Hermès Constances, and more.

Birkin Bag with Diamonds

Diamond Birkin Bag

The glamorous Diamond Birkin bag is a favorite of Hermès fanatics. It is the sister of the Diamond Birkin Himalyan, differing only in the treatment of the exotic skin. A true collectors item, this Hermès bag features crocodile skin paired with diamond-encrusted white gold hardware. These bags have been made in classic Birkin sizes 25, 30, 35, and 40 centimeters. Diamond Birkins come in an assortment of colors including pink, red, brown, black, and many more of Hermès’ countless colors. These rare Birkin bags’ estimated cost range from $190,000 USD to $260,000 USD depending on color and size. A Diamond Birkin Bag in the secondary market can sell for $300,000 plus depending on the color and size.

Birkin with Diamonds

Birkin Fray

Hermès Birkin Fray Fray

Released in the summer of 2021, the Hermès Birkin Fray Fray is the ultimate limited edition collectible. The Hermès Birkin Fray consists of a Twill H cotton canvas body that extends all the way to the edge and is sealed complete with a Sellier stitch. The mini-fringing on the edges of the Birkin 35 Fray Fray is the bag’s stand-out detail, accentuating the Swift leather and Palladium hardware. Crafted in a palette of bright shades, the lightweight Birkin Fray is the ideal summer companion.

Crocodile Birkin HAC

Hermès Birkin HAC

Serving as design inspiration for the iconic Birkin bag, the Hermès Haut à Courroies – or Hermès HAC – was first released in 1892. Hermès’ first bag, the Hermès HAC was originally designed for carrying a saddle and equestrian riding boots. Today, the Birkin HAC is generally preferred by male buyers and often replace briefcases or backpacks as the daily work bag. The slightly larger Birkin HAC 50 is also popular as a travel or weekend bag for men.

Haut à Courroies translates to high-belt in French, in reference to the closure sangles that latch around the top of the bag. What makes the Hermès HAC so important in Hermès’ history is its connection to the world-famous Birkin bag. When Jean-Louis Dumas sketched out a design for Jane Birkin on the back of an air-sickness bag on that well-known flight between London and Paris, his starting point for design inspiration was the Hermès HAC.

In recent years, Hermès has produced a number of limited edition Birkin HAC bags. These special bags have emerged with unique details including embroidery, leather marquetry, hand-painted coloration, new materials, and added design elements. While most Hermès HAC limited editions are found in either 40 or 50, there is also the Birkin HAC 45, Birkin HAC 55, and Birkin HAC 60.

Hermès In and Out Kelly

Hermès Kelly In and Out

Released at the end of 2021, the new limited edition Hermès Kelly In and Out provides an x-ray view into the bag’s interiors. With this exciting new design, the Hermès In and Out proposes what one might be keeping tucked away in their fabulous handbag.

The Hermès In and Out Kelly features Hermès products illustrated on the front of the bag, including the classic chaine d’ancre bracelet, a clochette keyholder in an exotic skin, a Hermès Citron Tutti Frutti pochette, and an Hermès lipstick. The Kelly 25 In and Out in Swift leather is crafted with palladium-plated hardware in the serene color Nata. Like the In and Out Birkin, the orange Hermès box of the Kelly In and Out features a navy interior and a dust bag with a navy Hermès logo and drawstrings. This rare Kelly In and Out Hermès is a must-have for handbag collectors, thanks to its references to Hermès’ impressive array of leather goods.

Hermès Kelly Ardennes

Hermès Kelly Ardennes

The Hermès Kelly, made iconic by Hollywood star Grace Kelly, is one of the most coveted handbags in the world and the ultimate symbol of luxury. Hermès discontinued Ardennes leather, also known as Vachette Grainee des Ardennes, in 2003. No longer in production, the Hermès Ardennes Kelly is a rare find for collectors of Hermès vintage bags. The Hermès Kelly Ardennes is iconic for how well it holds shape after years of use, and the natural grain of the leather is both timeless and sophisticated.

Hermès Kelly Danse Lizard

Hermès Kelly Danse

The Hermès Kelly Danse is a more casual Kelly bag and can be worn six different ways. The Kelly Danse can be worn as a clutch, cross body, shoulder bag, wristlet, around the waist, or as a backpack, all thanks to the adjustable strap. The Kelly Danse bag was originally designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier and released in 2008, discontinued in 2013 and then reintroduced in 2019 as the Kelly Danse II. A rare find, the Kelly Danse II is increasing in popularity with Hermès collectors.

The Kelly Danse is very lightweight since there are no zippers and the slim profile makes it the most versatile Kelly bag. The Hermès Kelly Danse is rare on the secondary market and even rarer in Ombre Lizard. The petite size and versatility of the Kelly Danse in an exotic material is coveted by the Hermès bag lover. Hermès Ombre Lizard bags like the Kelly Danse are often considered an alternative to Hermès Himalaya bags.

Hermès Shadow Birkin

Hermès Birkin Shadow

First introduced by French designer Jean Paul Gaultier in 2009 and reissued in limited quantities in 2019, the legendary Shadow Birkin embraces the classic Birkin silhouette with a fashion-forward take on the trompe l’oeil. An extraordinarily rare find, the Shadow Birkin offers a sartorial optical illusion, leaving the viewer wondering if the front straps and flaps are real or not. The Limited Edition Shadow Birkin is unique with its raised impression of the traditional Birkin flap and sangles. Deceivingly practical, the Hermès Shadow Birkin is a true luxury handbag, with a convenient opening at the top.

Assured to get covetous double-takes when you wear it, the Birkin Shadow 35 and Birkin Shadow 25 have an outline of all iconic Birkin features, but they're embossed from the inside – hence where the name “Shadow” is derived.

Hermès Silk Constance

Hermès Constance Marble Silk

The Hermès Constance was first introduced in 1959. This Hermès bag has captivated generation after generation of Hermès clients. Thanks to the success of the Hermès Constance, the Maison has been revisiting the style of their classic bag, reinterpreting it for a modern audience. The evolution of the Hermès Constance bag demonstrates the brand's commitment to weaving its traditional DNA into new creations for a modern clientele. First Lady Jacquline Kennedy was frequently seen sporting the bag, which helped grow the popularity of the Hermès Constance. It takes an Hermès artisan between 14 - 18 hours to create a Constance Hermès, demonstrating the care that is invested in the exquisite handbag.

Released in 2021, the limited edition Hermès Constance Marble Silk is crafted using a rare silk marbling technique that took the brand years to discover. Nose Moriyoshi, located in Kyoto, Japan, is the only person in the world who knows how to do the silk marbling technique used for the Hermès Marble Silk Constance. This striking Hermès Constance is in Orbis printed silk, trimmed with Rose Mexico Swift leather, and finished with Palladium hardware.

Hermès Birkin So Black

Hermès Birkin So Black

Rare runway bags from Jean-Paul Gaultier’s time at Hermès are among the highest-valued bags in the world, and while certain designs of his have faded into obscurity, others have cemented themselves in the Handbag Pantheon. Among his most iconic, timeless creations is the Hermès So Black collection unveiled in Fall 2010, one of his last before leaving the luxury fashion house.

Featuring black PVD hardware and all-black packaging, the Hermès Birkin So Black is coveted for its tremendous rarity. Prices for such exotic black Birkin bags are at record levels, as the scarcity has become increasingly apparent. The most elusive of the entire collection, Sotheby's sold an exotic Hermès So Black Matte Alligator Birkin 30 for $160,000 in August 2022. A sought-after collectors’ item, the Hermès Birkin So Black will not be produced again, and remains part of the only bag collection in Hermès history to have black hardware.

Hermès Birkin Picnic

Hermès Birkin Picnic

The Hermès Life Sportif has always been central to the brand’s identity, and the ultimate activity of leisure and luxury is picnicking. Crafted from Osier Wicker and Swift leather, the Birkin Picnic requires two top-level craftspeople to create: a master saddler for the leather, and an expert basket weaver for the body, which reportedly takes around 10 hours to craft.

Hermès released the Birkin 25 Picnic in 2021. It is the newest limited edition Birkin 25 and follows on the success of the Mini Kelly Picnic. While the long term popularity of the Picnic Birkin is still unclear, its unique design has initially been well received by collectors. The Birkin Picnic is likely to become a popular alternative to the Mini Kelly Picnic.

Hermès Susan Bag

Hermès Susan Bag

The Hermès Susan bag, designed for socialite philanthropist and Hermès collector Susan Casden, is somewhat mythical among Hermès lovers. The epitome of a personal ‘Horizon’ order, the Susan Casden Hermès bag utilizes the iconic Kelly closure in an easy and practical shoulder bag with two front magnetic flap pockets and one rear slip pocket. Reportedly produced for others only with Casden’s permission, examples of this bag are almost never found on the secondary market. It is rumored Hermès will no longer make bespoke Horizon order bags with Birkin or Kelly related designs, making the Hermès Susan bag even more special.

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