15 of the World's Most Expensive Handbags: Hermès, Chanel and More

For some, a purse is more than an accessory — it’s an investment. According to Data Bridge, a global market research firm, the luxury handbag market is on an upswing, with its value projected to reach $42 billion by 2029. Meanwhile, global financial consulting company Credit Suisse estimates that high-end handbags are one of the best investments of 2023, beating out both art and jewelry.

High fashion labels are increasingly catering to collectors, releasing their most prized purses in extremely limited numbers. These one-of-a-kind pieces can fetch hundreds of thousands at auction, with crocodile finishes and diamond embellishments upping the ante. Ladies Lunch Bag

15 of the World's Most Expensive Handbags: Hermès, Chanel and More

Below, see 15 of the world’s most expensive handbags. Unsurprisingly, Hermès dominates the list.

The Ombré Birkin was introduced in 2019. Crafted from ultra-rare Varanus salvator lizard skin, the bag comes adorned with palladium hardware and is lined with Parchemin chevre leather. While its retail price is between $40,000 and $80,000, the Ombré Birkin is worth almost double at auction. In 2020, Sotheby’s sold this purse for $137,500.

Released in 2005, limited-edition metallic Birkins were made in silver and bronze. Measuring 25 centimeters, they’re smaller than the typical Birkin, but they’ll still cost a pretty penny. A silver version with bronze detailing, sold by Sotheby’s in 2022, went for nearly $140,000.

Before Jean Paul Gaultier stepped down as creative director of Hermès in 2010, his final collection for the fashion house included a line of “So Black” handbags. This limited-edition matte niloticus crocodile 30 with PVD hardware fetched just over $200,000 when Christie’s auctioned it off in 2019.

In 2008, Chanel produced its Diamond Forever bag. Karl Lagerfeld designed the alligator leather piece in the style of the French label’s iconic flap bags. It features white gold hardware, including a clasp encrusted with 334 diamonds totaling 3.56 carats. The Diamond Forever was put up for auction during amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS benefit, selling for $261,000.

Birkins made with exotic skins are already considered rare, so it’s no surprise that a little bling increases the price tag. Crocodile diamond Birkins typically cost more than $200,000 on the resale market, with one of the most expensive being the Géranium 35, pictured above. Sold by Christie’s in 2018, the bag is crafted with porosus crocodile skin and includes 18-karat white gold and diamond hardware.

Christie’s auctioned off this limited-edition Hermès purse in 2022. Designed by the label’s former creative director, Jean Paul Gaultier, it was created in collaboration with French feather métier Maison Lemarié.

This taupe Sellier Kelly, made in 2010, is adorned with a geometric collage of multicolor feathers. It sold for $352,825 at a 2021 Christie’s auction in Hong Kong.

First released in 2019, the Faubourg Birkin resembles an Hermès storefront. There are four different shades of the coveted handbag, with the Neige or “Snow” colorway being the most valuable. Faubourgs have become among the most collectible Hermès bags, featuring both alligator and chèvre leather. Sotheby’s sold this rare 20 cm handbag with palladium hardware for $400,000 in 2022.

Lana Marks’ trademark Cleopatra clutch comes in a variety of colors. It became a must-have red carpet accessory in the 2000s, with stars including Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie carrying variations of the crocodile bag.

Marks’ most expensive creation, however, was for Chinese actress Li Bingbing. Bingbing’s $400,000 custom clutch features 40 carats of black diamonds, 18-karat gold, and her name written in pink gold embellished with pink diamonds.

Sotheby’s sold a Himalaya Birkin 30 with diamond-encrusted white gold hardware for $450,000 in 2022. Made from niloticus crocodile skin, the highly-coveted handbag features nine to ten carats of stones. Named for their gradient pattern reminiscent of the snow-capped mountain range, Himalayas, even those without diamond hardware, are considered some of the rarest — and most valuable — in the world.

Much like Himalaya Birkins, their Kelly counterparts are worth a pretty penny. Christie’s broke a world record with the 2021 sale of a Himalaya crocodile Retourné Kelly 28. The piece, which features 18-karat gold and diamond hardware, sold for $513,200. Another Himalaya crocodile Retourné Kelly 25 with palladium hardware fetched $435,375 in 2020.

This luxe iteration of Louis Vuitton’s fan-favorite duffle is crafted from yellow crocodile skin and emblazoned with the brand’s signature monogram pattern. It also features a diamond-covered chain strap. The brand’s new creative director of menswear, Pharrell Williams, debuted the bag at Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June.

Hermès collaborated with Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka in 2015 to create this $1.9 million platinum “Birkin.” It’s encrusted with 2,182 diamonds, including an eight carat pear-shaped center piece.

Priced at $2 million, the Sac Bijou Birkin was released as part of Hermès’ Haute Bijouterie Collection in 2012. Designed by Pierre Hardy, the miniature handbag, intended to be worn as a bracelet, features over 2,000 diamonds set in rose gold. According to Sotheby’s, there are only three Sac Bijou Birkins in existence.

One of the world’s most expensive handbags was created by Mouawad jewelers, who crafted this Guinness World Records-certified 1001 Nights diamond purse. Priced at $3.8 million, 10 artisans covered the heart-shaped piece in more than 4,000 diamonds. These yellow, pink and colorless stones total 381.92 carats.

15 of the World's Most Expensive Handbags: Hermès, Chanel and More

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