Guide to Buying Hermès Crocodile and Alligator Bags

Guide to Buying Hermès Crocodile and Alligator Bags

Everything to consider when buying a Crocodile Birkin, Hermès Alligator Kelly or other exotic Hermès bag
Everything to consider when buying a Crocodile Birkin, Hermès Alligator Kelly or other exotic Hermès bag

When it comes to Hermès bags there is a hierarchy of materials. Full-grain leather bags make the majority of what is sold at Hermès boutiques. Hermès also makes very limited quantities of bags in exotic skins like Lizard, Ostrich, Crocodile or Alligator that retail for multiples of the price of similar leather bags. Alligator or Crocodile Hermès occupy their own level of luxury, and crocodile sits atop this group. Only VVIP Hermès clients are allowed to special order a crocodile or alligator bag. To help collectors learn more about these highly-valued Hermès bags, we’ve put together a guide to Hermès’ most luxurious and expensive materials.

Hermès Himalaya Kelly 28 Niloticus Crocodile

Hermès Crocodile Bag

Currently Hermès Crocodile bag are made using two different species of crocodile. Each type Hermès Crocodile has a unique set of features. The most highly-valued Hermès Crocodile is Porosus and is sourced from Australia. Hermès crocodile Porosus scales tend to have the most distinct pores in the center of each scale. Appearing as a little dot, these pores are what give Hermès Crocodile Porosus its name. An Hermès Bag in this species are marked with a ^ next to the Hermès logo, whereas Hermès Crocodile Niloticus (Nilo for short) is marked with a = and are sourced from North Africa. Niloticus Hermès Crocodile bags sometimes have pores similar to Porosus Hermès crocodile but tend to have longer, more rectangular scales compared to the tight small square scales expected on an Porosus Hermès crocodile bag. In decades past Hermès has also used Caiman crocodile, marked with an O by the brand stamp. Caiman Hermès crocodile bags tend to have big square scales, though this material was discontinued when Hermès found it difficult to reliably source high grade Caiman skins.

Hermès Crocodile Birkin 35 Mykonos Matte Niloticus

Hermès Alligator Bag

Hermès uses Alligator sourced from the USA, though mostly for smaller bags and accessories. Large alligator skins often have wild uneven scales, which tend not to make it through Hermès’ quality control. Hermès Alligator bag is marked with a small square by the Hermès brand logo. While alligator looks similar to crocodile, it can be distinguished from the lack of the visible pore on the skin. Alligator surface is delicate and water can leave permanent stains or marks on the surface.

Hermès Alligator Birkin 25 Vanille Matte Mississippiensis

Hermès Crocodile vs Alligator Bag Finishes

Hermès crocodile and Hermès alligator bags have two distinct finishes. Shiny, or Lisse bags are buffed to a near mirror finish using a smooth agate stone. Shiny Hermès crocodile and Hermès alligator bags have a glossy effect without using any actual gloss. A matte finish for an Hermès crocodile and Hermès alligator bag is achieved through repeatedly rubbing the skin with a piece of wool felt. A Matte Hermès crocodile or Hermès alligator bag have been increasing in popularity and value recently. Matte finish Hermès bags are less likely to show scratches or water marks on the exterior. Matte finish bags are more expensive than shiny in retail and in the secondary market.

Earlier this year Hermès crocodile and Hermès alligator items were released with a new finish dubbed Boreal Satin. This finish is similar to Matte with silkier touch, and so far has only been spotted in a few colors. Mostly seen on small accessories, Boreal Satin bags are extremely rare on the secondary market.

Hermès Kelly 25 Alligator Bleu Electrique

Hermès Crocodile vs Alligator Bag Colors

Hermès may be known for its fabulous colors, but certain hues are made exclusively for exotics. Aside from the world-famous Himalayans, other exotic-exclusive colors include Vert Emerald, Mimosa, Gris Paris and Rose Scheherazade, as well as others. The variation in scales gives these colors incredible depth and vibrancy that simply cannot be achieved on regular leather.

Price of Hermès Crocodile and Alligator Bags

Prices for Hermès crocodile and alligator bags vary widely with condition, age, model, color and size all factoring into secondary market prices. Himalaya Birkin and Kelly bags are the most expensive Hermès crocodile bags. The Hermès Himalya Birkins and Kelly bags range in price from about $150,000-$330,000. Prices are even higher for Hermès Himalaya bags with diamonds. The smallest Birkin and Kelly bags that are pristine with plastic on the hardware in neutral or pastel colors are the next most expensive. These range from $50,000-$90,000 depending on the color and data stamp. Older and larger Hermès crocodile and alligator bags can range from $30,000 to $50,000.

Buying and Selling Exotic Hermès Bags at Sotheby's

Sotheby's has several ways to buy Hermès crocodile and alligator bags. We have handbag auctions in New York, Zurich, Paris, and Hong Kong every year with a curated selection of rare and collectible exotic Birkins, Hermès Kelly bags and more. Sotheby's also has a curated selection of Hermès crocodile and alligator bags available for immediate purchase through our marketplace. You can also contact a Salon Associate in New York or Bucherer in Zurich to learn more about viewing and purchasing exotic Hermès bags at Sotheby's. If you have Hermès crocodile and Alligator bags to sell, you can contact a Handbag Specialist to learn more about your selling options.

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