Gold or Palladium? A big question for many Hermes lovers all over the world. It's not uncommon to find a collection dedicated to one or the other. But the question of Hardware goes deeper than this dichotomy. Hermes has only used a handful of finishes for their iconic Birkin and Kelly hardware. A Preference for white or yellow gold jewelry is a good starting point for choosing a bag’s hardware, but what about the other options?
PVD - The So Black collection that marked Jean-Paul Gaultier’s departure from Hermes has become one of the most collectible editions of the Birkin and Kelly in existence. These bags sport the unique PVD coated hardware that gives the bags their So Black look. Known to scratch irreparably, PVD hardware has only since been used with limited runs of small non-Birkin/Kelly bags, and most recently on the highly collectible Midnight Faubourg Birkin.
Ruthenium - First seen in the highly collectible
Millennium Moonlight Kelly's produced in 2000, Ruthenium hardware was mainly used from 2004 to 2007. The dark gunmetal finish was paired with many lizard bags from this time, as well as the series of bi-color Birkins featuring colored piping and trim against shiny dark crocodile or box bodies. Limited Edition tri-color Togo Birkins and Kellys from this period also sport Ruthenium hardware.
Permabrass - This champagne-gold toned hardware was first used in 2011’s Club Birkins, and has since made appearances on a number of other limited editions including Tadelakt Ghillies bags, Ostrich Ghillies, Grand Marriage, Flag Birkins, Grizzly, and some colorways from the Candy collection. Since 2017, Permabrass has only been available via Special Order.
The newest hardware from Hermes, Rose Gold was introduced in 2018 and has become a favorite song collectors for its warm pink finish. Prices for regular leather Birkins and Kellys with Rose Gold hardware remain over 25% higher than those with Gold or Palladium hardware, though the gap between Gold and Rose Gold has narrowed as more examples of this still-rare hardware come to market. To make the rarity of Rose Gold clear, it makes up only about 5% of the secondary market.
Guilloche - One of the rarest and least-known hardwares Hermes has used for Birkins and Kellys is Guilloche. Palladium Guilloche Birkins, Kellys and Kelly Pochettes and Cuts in either Black, Argile, Blue de Prusse or Gris Perle Tadelakt leather were produced in very limited numbers from 2012-2014, though the hardware was first used around 2003-2005 in Kelly Kellys in a variety of different colors. This is also the only time when Gold Guilloche hardware was used. The diamond pattern takes root from fine metal smithing, and lends the hardware a unique texture.
Brushed Hardware - Today, Brushed Hardware, either Gold or Palladium, is most associated with HSS special order bags. For many years that has been the only way Hermes has used the finish. But over the last two decades Hermes has also used Brushed hardware for a number of Limited Editions. Most recently, 2014’s Chambray Toile Kellys and 2013’ Denim Ghillies Birkins were paired with Brushed Palladium, as were both versions of the Cascade Birkins produced in the prior two years. Dalmatian Birkins and Kellys from the early 2000’s can be found with Brushed Palladium hardware, as can Matte Crocodile bags with Toile interiors. Some solid color leather Birkins and Kellys were also produced around this time with Brushed Palladium. Brushed Gold hardware is extremely rare outside Special Orders, with only a handful of examples coming to market in the last decade.
Diamond - Birkins and Kellys with Diamond Hardware are the height of the handbag market. Diamond Hima's its peak. Hermes uses close to 10 carats of VVS F diamonds and nearly 80 grams of 18 karat gold in the production of the hardware for a 35cm Birkin. Most are done with white gold, though rare examples exist with yellow gold. Hermes has also produced these bags with colored sapphires in the place of diamonds. Diamond Birkins and Kellys can be found in every size up to 40cm, in a variety of colors, in either matte or shiny porosus crocodile. Hermes has also produced diamond Kelly Cuts, Pochettes, Constances, Egees and Medor clutches.