The gorgeous Hermès Himalayan Birkin Bag is what elite fashionistas call the Holy Grail of all handbags, while high-fashion connoisseurs consider the Himalayan Kelly as “The Rarest Handbag in the World.” How did these purses obtain such prominence? The answer lies beneath the extraordinary history and construction of this wearable masterpiece, intertwining brilliant design with upscale materials.
Beautiful coloration that mirrors the phenomenal, snow-capped Himalayas
The word “Himalayan” refers to the striking, one-of-a-kind gradient of the Hermès handbag in discussion. Most individuals have wrongfully attributed the unique coloration to a scarce variety of Asian crocodiles with albinism, or mistakenly associated the distinct coloration to a rare crocodile species found only in the Himalayas.
Once you look past the myths and misconceptions about Hermès Himalayan handbags, you will realize that they are, in reality, a meticulously processed crocodile skin of the Crocodylus niloticus species. Artisans design and craft each handbag to resemble the stunning gradation between snowy mountain caps and rocky, gray mountainsides of the renowned Himalayan mountain range. In truth, the designation “Himalayan” does not pinpoint the origin of the bag.
Unparalleled, breakthrough design
The Himalayan design dates back to the 1990s as Vert Celadon Natura, which illustrates a green-brown colorway that Hermès only manufactured in the Kelly bag line.
The Vert Celadon Natura coloration references the handbags of the early 20th century, a time when it was almost impossible to remove natural pigment from exotic animal skins, even after diligent and painstaking processing. As the new century approached, Hermès revived this process and produced no more than 10 of these magnificent and now-incredibly rare Kelly bags for private sale.
During the late 2000s, Hermès yet again modified its proprietary process. They improved the technique to a perfected craft. Lo and behold, Hermès brought the Matte White Himalayan to life, this time in both the Kelly and Birkin lines. Soon after, Hermès included the world-famous Matte Gris Cendre Himalayan to their impressive repertoire.
The ultimate expression of fine artistry
Each finished Himalayan bag is a sight to behold. Combining first-class materials and superior craftsmanship with the Hermès equestrian heritage, the Himalayan Birkin handbag is the utmost symbol of the unmatched craftsmanship and tradition of the storied Hermès House.
To produce the Matte White Himalayan coloration, a skilled artisan must first choose a light animal skin. Then, similar to most leathers, an artisan will dry salt the hide to preserve the material, soak the skin to clean every inch, lime it for descaling, and then de-lime the hide for pickling. After this, the sample is chrome tanned to convert the organic material to inorganic, therefore ensuring durability. An artisan then shaves the skin to thin it out, re-tans the hide to make it soft and easy to work with, and finally dries the material. Only then can the craftsmen of Hermès begin the secretive dyeing process, which is a clandestine mystery to the world.
A collectible for the ultra-wealthy
As soon as handbag collectors from all around the world recognized the rarity and beauty of Hermès Himalayan creations, everyone wanted one.
The 30-centimeter diamond Himalayan Birkin is perhaps the rarest and most coveted handbag in the world. Its majestic color pairs beautifully with 18-karat white gold hardware, which itself is encrusted with glistening diamonds. Just the cadena lock alone boasts 68.4 grams of 18-karat white gold and adorned with 40 white round brilliant diamonds amounting to 1.64 carats. As for the bag, three different structural elements of the Birkin — including the Pontets, the Touret, and the Plaques de Sanglons — feature over 200 diamonds for a whopping total of 8.2 carats. This handbag is arguably the most phenomenal and most jaw-dropping Birkin ever made. Singaporean socialite and entrepreneur Jamie Chua is one of the few people who own this wearable work of art.
In a resounding response to the high demands of collectors, Hermès soon introduced a limited number of Himalayan Kelly bags.
The rarest and desirable handbag in existence
There is no exact estimation of how many Matte White Himalayan bags are in existence since the information is based on secondary market circulation. However, since Hermès extended the coloration to other products, such as the Plume, Constance, and certain small leather goods, it may be for certain that Himalayan handbags are some of the rarest and desirable fashion pieces Hermès, or the world, has ever offered.
In 2016, Christie’s 30th Anniversary Hong Kong auction sold a Himalayan Birkin bag with white gold and diamond hardware for a world record price of $300,168.
In May 2017, Christie’s in Hong Kong once again broke the world record for the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction when a Hermès Himalayan encrusted with a total of 10.23-carat diamonds commanded £293,000 ($341,344).
Retains value like no other handbag
The retail price of a Himalayan Birkin or Kelly varies based on size, with the largest size of 40cm priced around $120,000. Coupling that price with the challenges of acquiring one from the selective fashion house makes this handbag almost unattainable. Thus, at auctions, the prices of these leather bags rise at a base of around $90,000 and can stretch as far as $380,000 for the rare variations with diamond-encrusted hardware.
The value of these famed handbags may send your head spinning, but some secondary market prices make the pièce de résistance of luxury goods seem within reach. That is, of course, if you are lucky enough to find one on the secondary market.
The Epitome of Luxury
When we think of luxury, Hermès is one of the fashion houses that immediately comes to mind. When we reach a bit further and think beyond “mere” extravagance, a single thought prevails: The Hermès Himalayan. As one of the world’s most exclusive handbags creations, mentioning an Hermès Himalayan Birkin or Kelly is enough to make any handbag aficionado salivate. These bags are, without a doubt in mind, the crème de la crème of high-end fashion.
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