Hermès Lizard Bags
Exotic Hermès bags are a category unto themselves. Generally speaking exotic Birkins and Kellys sell for multiple times their leather counterparts. Hermès currently uses six different exotic skins in their handbag production: American Alligator, Ostrich, Porosus Saltwater Crocodile, Nile Crocodile (also called Nilo or Niloticus), Nile Monitor Lizards, and Asian Water Monitors, also known as Salvator Lizards. Porosus Crocodile bags retail for the highest price of all, but Lizard bags are by far the rarest. It’s likely many Hermès stores go a year or more without ever receiving a Lizard Birkin or Kelly from Paris.
Image above from left to right: 1) 6.5cm Black Lizard Micro Kelly Twilly Charm, 2) 15cm Sanguine Lizard Micro Candy Kelly, 3) 15cm Vert Emerald Lizard Micro Sellier Kelly, 4) 20cm Black Lizard Mini Kelly 20 II, 5) 20cm Black Lizard Sellier Kelly, 6) 20cm Havane Lizard Sellier Shoulder Kelly, 7) Black Lizard Kelly Pochette
Hermès Lizard Kelly
Hermès Lizard Kelly bags can be found dating as far back as the style itself, and over the decades, many have survived in good condition. Water and moisture generally are not good for Lizard skin, though the small dense scales hold up well to wear. Lighter colors can be affected by the sun, and can develop dark handles if carried regularly in the hand. Hermès produced Lizard bags in two finishes, Shiny which is also known as Lisse, and Matte. The Shiny Lizard bags are not glazed but are buffed to a sheen using an agate stone, similar to how Hermès treats their Shiny Crocodile and Alligator skins. This treatment ensures the glaze will not wear away or flake off with use. Lizard Hermès bags are known to maintain their shine for decades. Sellier construction dominates the market for Lizard Kelly bags. Retourne Kelly bags are more rare and almost all always come in dark colors with a matte finish. Only four Retourne Lizard Kelly 25 bags have ever sold at auction, averaging around $29,500.
There are six types of Lizard mini Kelly bagss: 6.5cm Mini Twilly Kelly Charm which averages around $6,500 at auction; 15cm Mini Candy Kellys which are so rare none have sold at auction in almost seven years, 15cm vintage Sellier Kelly which is also extremely rare and have sold for higher and higher amounts every time they’ve come to auction, 20cm vintage Sellier Kellys which were produced with three handle variations and have averaged around $30,000 at auction, though the last example to sell brought more than double that, 20cm mini Sellier Kelly II, only one of which has come to auction so far, selling for nearly $47,000 and the Kelly Pochette, whose technical style name at Hermes is Mini Kelly. Kelly Lizard Pochettes averaged around $15,000 at auction prior to 2020, but the last three years have seen the prices for these clutches rise to nearly $23,000 on average, excluding Ombre examples. Sotheby's has sold two Ombre Pochettes, one for $63,000 in 2020 and another for $75,600 in 2021, each a record-breaking price. Lizard 25cm Sellier Kelly bags have also proven quite rare, with fewer than five examples selling at auction each year. Prior to 2020 these bags averaged between $30,000 and $35,000, though that number jumped to nearly $52,000, and still remained higher than previous levels in 2021 which saw averages for the style top $40,000. Prior to 2017 these bags averaged around $20,000.
Hermès Lizard Birkin
Hermès Lizard Birkin bags were first seen in 2004 when Jean-Paul Gaultier took over Creative Direction of the company and launched the new 25cm Birkin. This size was a perfect fit for Lizard, which had been difficult to source in sizes large enough to satisfy Birkins any bigger. Today, 30cm Birkins are occasionally produced in Lizard, though these are extremely rare with only two examples selling at auction so far for around $70,000 each. Many early Hermès Lizard Birkin bags feature the discontinued Ruthenium hardware, which has a gunmetal finish. With nearly four times as many examples sold at auction as 25cm Lizard Kelly bags, Lizard Birkin bags have held a reasonably steady auction average of just under $30,000 up through 2020, but last year that value rose to almost $42,000, excluding Ombre examples.
The image above compares two Ombre Lizard Birkins sold by Sotheby’s, on the left a 2020 example which sold for $137,500, on the right, a 2010 example that sold for just over $40,000. This shows how the coloration of an Hermès Ombre Lizard bag can change over the course of a decade.
Hermès Ombre Lizard Bags
Hermès Ombre Lizard bags are often considered an alternative to the Himalayan. Hermès Ombre Lizard bags display natural white rings on a gray background that fades to white arches along the sides of the bag. Over time, the white areas have been known to yellow, creating a stark value divide between fresh gray and white examples and more vintage Ombre Lizard bags. First produced in 2007, most Hermès Ombre Lizard bags have Palladium hardware, though rare examples with Gold hardware do exist. Ombre Lizard Constances and Pochettes have been produced since 2007 as well, and more recently other styles like the Verrou and Mosaïque bags have come out in the material. Hermès has also since launched another version of Ombre Lizard called Desert Ombre which already sports an overall yellow tone and will likely not change as much over time. This color, though, is mainly seen on non-Birkin and Kelly styles. Auction results for Ombre Lizard Birkins and Kellys can vary by up to $100,000. Last year Sotheby’s set a record for an Ombre Lizard bag with the $137,500 sale of a 2020 25cm Ombre Lizard Birkin. The year before a 2010 example sold in a Hong Kong auction for just north of $25,000. The average for Ombre Lizard Birkins and Kellys in 2021 was nearly $85,000. Prior to 2015 Ombre Lizard bags averaged under $40,000.