Here's how Christie's Valuates Your Hermès Birkin Before They Are Put Up For Auction

Christie’s upcoming Spring Hong Kong auction will officially open at the end of this month, bringing an astonishing collection of iconic Hermès models in exotic skin and diamond-studded pieces alike, amongst other handbags, accessories and luxurious collectibles from Louis Vuitton, Chanel and more. Over 250 lots will make up the monumental collection, which is expected to take in some record breaking prices.

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Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30

Lots are valued anywhere between US$3000 to an excess of US$200,000, featuring rare pieces such as the Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30, which features 18k white gold and diamond hardware which is valued between US$200,000 to US$260,000. On the lower end of the spectrum, however, the Ombré Salvator Lizard Sellier Kelly 25 With Palladium Hardware is expected to fetch approximately US$20,000 – a mere fraction some of the more lavishly priced lots.

So why are certain Birkin bags valued the way there are? We speak to Winsy Tsang, Christie’s Head of Sales, Handbags and Accessories in Hong Kong to find out more:

How are Hermès Birkin bags valuated before they are auctioned?

In general, the valuation comes from a blend of different factors such as condition, material, rarity, and is then balanced with market demand. For special pieces like Custom bags, the color combination is important, such as in lots 3486 and 3487 (above) and for the Extraordinaire Piece such as Birkin with Diamond Hardware, the condition, the color, the quality of diamond are all taken into account in the valuation process.

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How are the authenticity of the bags determined?

As part of Christie’s authenticity process, we go to great lengths to bring only the best products to the market. The bags are examined in detail by specialists in areas including the shape, leather, stitching, corners, hardware, stamp, lining, interior compartments and zippers.  The specialists also invest time to understand who consigns the bags – buyers should take caution when buying in this category and only approach reputable retailers and large auction houses.

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Why are some Hermès bags worth more than the others?

Top collectors around the world look for certain factors in a bag which greatly affects their value including whether it is custom made in a unique and beautiful colour combination. Limited edition pieces are very difficult to find in the market such as lot 3495 (above), a Tri-Color Crocodile Constance. Discontinued pieces that are no longer in production and rare materials including the Ombre Lizard Skin are less common and more desirable. Cultural factors can also play a role. In Asia for example, condition is very important, and newer collections are favoured. In contrast, Europeans focus on untagged and archival pieces, and view scratches as part of the history of the bag.

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Are Hermès bags good investments? Why?

We don’t advise clients to buy purely for investing, but top quality Hermes bags have been performing strongly at auctions, so buyers start viewing this category as a collecting class. Buyers should understand that tastes and trends in the market may shift, so it is best to buy what they are passionate about rather than for monetary returns.

What do you think is the appeal of the Birkin bag?

Buyers are attracted to the unparalleled level of workmanship and craftsmanship that goes into each bag. Throughout history, the Birkin has been very iconic and has rich social and cultural significance, aside from the rarity of these bags. We see long-term trends at play, as the majority of collectable handbags sold are unique, “one-off” pieces of exceptional rarity, adding the element of scarcity which will support long term prices.

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