Learn All About the Most Expensive Hermès Birkin Bags
The Hermès Birkin bag is an iconic bag named after the actress Jane Birkin. It has been reinvented many times since it was first introduced to the public in the 1980s. The Hermès bag’s classic elements include two rolled handles, a flap top, a touret, a clochette, and four clou “feet”. Read on to discover the rarest and most expensive editions of the Birkin.
Birkin 20 Matte Alligator
Released in 2023, the newest edition to the most expensive Birkins is the Birkin 20 in Matte Alligator. The first one to appear at auction was in Sotheby's October 2023 Hong Kong sale. The Birkin 20 in Vert D’eau Matte Alligator in more structured Sellier with Gold Hardware sold for 889,000 HKD or $115,570. As more of these bags come to the secondary market, we could see prices settle lower but anticipate demand will remain strong for the next 6-12 months. While the shape size and sellier structure is similar to the Faubourg, the body of the bag is is unadorned.
Birkin Himalaya: An Homage to Majesty
The Himalaya Birkin comes both with and without diamonds. The Diamond Himalaya is infamous for being the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction. In 2022, Sotheby's sold a Diamond Himalaya Birkin 30 for over $450,000 USD. It is constructed out of Niloticus crocodile skin dyed in a white and grey gradient. The unique coloring of the Hermès bag is intended to evoke the white-capped peaks of the Himalaya Mountains. This coloring pairs perfectly with 18-karat white gold hardware, which is itself studded with white diamonds. The cadena lock alone is comprised of 68.4 grams of 18-karat white gold and encrusted with 40 white round brilliant diamonds, totaling 1.64 carats. On the bag, three different structural elements of the Birkin—the Touret, the Pontets, and the Plaques de Sanglons—feature more than 200 diamonds for a total of 8.2 carats. These precious materials enhance the exquisite coloring of the crocodile. Celebrated for their artistry, Himalaya Birkins are a rare find for collectors and are in high demand with or without diamonds. Himalaya Birkins generally sell at higher prices in the secondary market than other crocodile Birkin bags depending on the condition and age of the bag. In 2021, the Himalaya Birkin 25 was the most sought after size and sold for over $300,000 at Sotheby's. In 2023, prices for the most desirable Himalaya Birkin 25 in store fresh condition is around $200,000. Birkin 30 Himalaya has been selling closer to $150,000 in similar condition while older bags with more noticeable wear are selling closer to $100,000.
Diamond Birkin: The Epitome of Luxury
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. Diamond Birkins range in price depending on the size and color of the bag. Sotheby's has seen secondary market prices range from $100,000-$200,000 for Diamond Birkin bags (excluding Diamond Himalaya).
Birkin Faubourg: A Celebration of Hermès’ History
The Hermès Faubourg Birkin is one of the most sought-after limited edition Birkin bags. This Birkin was released in 2019 as an homage to the Hermès storefront on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. Hermès CEO Charles-Émile Hermès relocated the brand’s flagship store to the iconic street in 1880, where it has remained ever since. The Hermès handbag features three windows with orange awnings, a shopping bag clochette, a matte alligator skin top flap, and alligator skin handles. This tiny 20 centimeter Birkin was originally was released in Brown (Day) and Blue (Night). In 2021, two additional versions were released in White (Snow) and Black (Midnight). The white, or Snow Birkin Faubourg is the most expensive Faubourg color with one selling for just over $300,000 in 2022. Recently a Midnight black Birkin Faubourg sold for just over $160,000 in our Paris Auction in September 2023.
Birkin Ombré: An Elegant Collectable
The Ombré Birkin is an extremely rare find thanks to its lizard skin composition. This Hermès bag has sold for $137,500 at Sotheby’s in 2020 but prices have drifted lower since this peak. An older bag can be purchased for closer to $40,000 and it is possible to get a store fresh bag for closer to $80,000. The skin itself features a mesmerizing symmetrical pattern that captivates collectors of rare handbags and other luxury items. Ombré Birkins are typically made with palladium hardware and feature a lock and clochette also covered in lizard skin. Hermès craftsmen produce a wearable work of art by bringing out the natural coloring and texture of the lizard. Lizard skin bags are restricted by the small size of the skins. As a result, the Ombré Birkin usually comes in 25 centimeters.
Birkin Metallic: A Beautiful Piece of Art
Hermès’ Metallic Birkin bag is a limited edition Birkin released in 2005. This luxurious handbag comes in both silver and bronze. The Metallic Birkin is a smaller bag, measuring 25 centimeters across the base. The silver Birkin is accented with palladium hardware while the bronze Birkin is accented with gold hardware. The bag’s design draws its inspiration from window displays designed by Leïla Menchari for the Hermès Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré storefront. In order to produce the metallic pigmentation, Hermès artisans must add so much dye to the leather that the leather’s texture changes. Sotheby's has sold four metallic Birkins. The most expensive Metallic Silver Hermès Birkin 25 sold for 1,071,000 HKD or $139,230 in April 2022. Not surprisingly the Metallic Birkin 25 bags have sold for more then the Metallic Birkin 30 bags. The Metallic Silver Birkin 30 sold for 508,000 HKD or $66,040
Bonus Jewelry Birkin: Sac Bijou Birkin
In 2012, Hermès unveiled a stunning collection of handbag-inspired jewelry from the Haute Bijouterie Collection. This collection was designed by Pierre Hardy, the creative director of fine jewelry at Hermès. One of the most stunning pieces from the collection was the Sac Bijou Birkin, priced around $2 million USD. This Hermès bag is crafted from rose gold inlaid with 2,712 diamonds. The miniaturized Birkin is fully functional and intended to be worn as a bracelet. The Hermès bag’s top flap is textured to imitate crocodile skin while diamonds cover the piece’s body, top handles, touret, cadena lock, and clochette. There are only three diamond Sac Bijou Birkin’s in existence, making the item exceptionally rare. In 2019, the Sac Bijou Birkin was re-released with black garnets and spinels -- an edgier take on the white diamond-crusted original.