The most desirable handbag in the world will take center stage during Heritage Auctions
' May 4 Luxury Accessories Signature® Auction.
The Hermès 35cm Diamond Matte White Himalayan Niloticus Crocodile Kelly (estimate: $240,000-$260,000) one of the rarest bags ever created is encrusted with 229 diamonds set in 18k white gold hardware and totaling 8.08 carats. But it's not just the gems that make this handbag shine. Fashioned from the hide of Africa's largest crocodilian, this wearable work of art features a spectacular but delicate ombre of smoky gray fading into luminous white an effect that evokes the majestic snow-capped Himalayas for which the bag is named. Achieving the effect requires a painstaking process of delicate hand-dyeing and bleaching, a technique that becomes more difficult and time-consuming as the color lightens. Beyond that, as with all Hermès creations, the bag is carefully hand-stitched using two needles and a single piece of thread to ensure the permanency and impeccable finish of every stitch.
"This extraordinary creation is a masterwork of meticulous craftsmanship and exquisite artisanry," says Diane D'Amato, Heritage's Director of Luxury Accessories, Private Sales & The Boutique. "Even more rare than its Birkin counterpart, the Himalayan Kelly is the Hermès piece produced in the most limited numbers, the holy grail being the 35cm Diamond Matte White Himalayan Niloticus Crocodile Kelly Bag."
The Himalayan design pays homage to the crocodile bags of the early 20th century when it was nearly impossible to remove all the natural pigment and texture from exotic skins. If not dyed black or brown, the skins would be lightened to highlight their natural coloring. As more sophisticated dyeing techniques were developed, resulting in a more extensive range of color options, the natural ombre coloration fell out of style. That is, until the early 1990s, when Hermès unveiled a new glossy green-brown ombre crocodile Kelly bag called Natura Vert Celadon the Himalayan's predecessor. Initially, Himalayan Birkins were sold only to the most loyal and dedicated collectors, but after Jean Paul Gaultier sent one down his spring runway in 2010, a collecting phenomenon was born. Hermès responded by crafting a limited number of Himalayan Kelly bags.
"With its combination of artistry and legend, the Himalayan Kelly is not just a masterpiece of incomparable construction," D'Amato says. "It's the ultimate find for the serious collector."
The Diamond Himalayan Kelly isn't the only Hermès stunner in the May 4 auction, however. The event also features Hermès bags in a variety of sizes and a rainbow of hues.
Among the highlights is a Shiny Rose Scheherazade Crocodile Kelly Cut (estimate: $26,000-$34,000). The eye-poppingly pink and easy-to-carry clutch features palladium hardware and makes a dramatic statement with its bold, bright color. There is also a trio of bags in a range of gorgeous greens: a Matte Vert Rousseau Alligator Mini Kelly 20 (estimate: $30,000-$40,000), a 30cm Vert D'Eau Alligator Birkin (estimate: $30,000-$40,000) and a Special Order Horseshoe Vert Criquet and Vert Bosphere Bi-color Epsom Leather Mini Kelly (estimate: $14,000-$20,000).
Other Hermès standouts include a 25cm Nata Swift Leather In and Out Retourne Kelly (estimate: $20,000-$24,000), a 25cm Sesame Toile and Swift Leather Quadrille Sellier Kelly (estimate: $20,000-$24,000) and a Gris Perle Epsom Leather Mini Kelly 20 (estimate: $14,000-$18,000), as well as two great options in classic black: a 24cm Black Matte Alligator and Lizard Constance (estimate: $24,000-$36,000) and a So Black Box Calf Leather Kelly Pochette ($14,000-$20,000).