Hermes exotics are regarded as the height of luxury; unrivaled quality of materials to match unrivaled quality of craftsmanship. The house has used many different exotic skins to make their iconic handbags. While many of these such as Beluga, Anteater, Elephant, and Emu were discontinued long ago, Hermes still produces bags from five exotic species: Ostrich, Porosus Saltwater Crocodiles, Nile Crocodiles (also called Nilo or Niloticus), Nile Monitor Lizards, and Asian Water Monitors, also known as Salvator Lizards. Porosus Crocodile bags retail for the highest price of all, but Lizard bags are by far the rarest. So few Lizard Birkins and Kellys are produced by Hermes it is hard to pin down their current retail price. It’s likely many Hermes stores go a year or more without over receiving a Lizard Birkin or Kelly from Paris. 

As long as Hermes has been making handbags, they have been making Lizard bags as well (as far as we can tell). Auction records show Hermes Lizard bags dating back to the first half of the 20th century, right around the time the French atelier changed the course of handbags forever by adding a zipper closure to their now-classic Bolide design. While Lizard Kellys can be found dating to almost every decade the style has been produced, in every size from 15cm to 32cm (though almost always in Sellier construction), the first Lizard Birkins weren’t seen until 2005, shortly after the introduction of the 25cm model around 2004. Since then 25cm Lizard Birkins and Kellys have been produced in a rainbow of colors, some exclusive to this exotic skin. They can be found with both gold and palladium hardware, and many early Lizard bags from 2005 and 2006 have the discontinued gunmetal-like hardware called Ruthenium. The most desirable color though, is Ombre, which moves from gray on the sides to nearly white at the center, sprinkled with the natural gray rings that give these Lizards their distinct pattern. Considered by many as equal to the Himalayan, Ombre Lizard bags showcase the natural coloring of the animal, but also require painstaking work to perfect, and are subject to even higher quality standards. Not only do the scales have to be perfect, and the skins free of blemishes, the pattern also has to be distinct and symmetrical, and they need to find two skins that match! These highly coveted gems have been produced sporadically since the mid 2000’s, and early examples that have not been carefully maintained show yellowing. Some collectors appreciate this patina, but for others it further drives demand for the newest and best kept examples. 

When you think of Lizards you probably picture little scaly critters that scamper up trees and hide under rocks, these are not the lizards Hermes uses. While Monitor Lizards can grow to the size of a small crocodile, they grow slowly and require very special care. This is why the vast majority of Lizard bags are 25cm or smaller, though Hermes has produced some examples much larger. A handful of 30cm Lizard bags have come through the secondary market in recent years, and vintage Lizard Kellys can be found in both 28cm and 32cm sizes, but we’ve only seen one example of a 35cm Lizard Birkin, and one example of a 40cm Lizard Birkin, both of which were unique special order pieces. Most Lizard bags are done in Veranus Niloticus, or Nilo Lizard, which is prized for its small even scales, and is buffed to a high-gloss finish creating a nearly glittering effect. These bags are marked with a single dash next to the Hermes logo. Some bags have a double dash which indicates Salvator Lizard. While Ombre Lizard bags are done in Salvator and buffed to a sheen, most of these bags are treated with a matte finish, accentuating the texture of the scales.

Over the past ten years for which we have auction records, Lizard Birkins and Kellys have risen in value by 13% annually on average, with 25cm Kellys rising the most in recent years. While the average price for a 25cm Lizard Birkin has hovered in the low thirty-thousand range for a number of years, and the prices for 20cm Kellys have been relatively stable around the $25,000 mark, the value of 25cm Kellys has nearly doubled from an overall average of $27,000 to $48,000 this past year for the single Fuchsia example that sold; a record for the size (excluding Ombre, which we’ll get to in a moment). The rare 30cm Lizard Birkin sells much higher averaging $65,000 between a sparse three results, but the status of the Ombre Lizard bag is made clear by its chart-topping numbers: 25cm Ombre Lizard Birkins average $53,000 overall at auction, and $79,000 between the three that sold this past year. 25cm Ombre Lizard Kellys average $67,000 overall, with one selling for a whopping $110,000 in 2019. This, shockingly did not beat the $120,000 record set for a Ombre Lizard Kelly back in 2017. The record for an Ombre Birkin at auction is nearly $98,000. All of this supports the notion that Lizard Birkins and Kellys are exceptionally rare exotics that are increasing in value as more collectors come to desire them and move these small-scaled gems to the tops of their wish-lists.

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