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How craftsmanship determines the value of luxury handbags

Despite all the headlines surrounding Hermes, the most expensive handbag this year is not made by the storied label. Instead, that coveted title goes to the Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse valued at a whopping US$3.8 million.

Even so, Hermes has continued to dominate the long list of prized women’s purses for decades now. Its collaboration with Japanese designer, Ginza Tanaka for instance, has given birth to the creation of the all-platinum Hermes Birkin studded with over 2,000 diamonds.

The craftsmanship, tectonics and materials that go into the making of these bags make them extremely precious and valuable. The hours invested into the creation of a handbag will also determine its worth. Brand owners and fashion houses also ensure exclusivity as these pieces are often made to order, upping its appeal amongst elite and loyal customers around the globe.

Besides enhancing a look, a bag makes for a great addition to any collection. They are great investment pieces with resale potential that can increase astronomically over time – especially with the more limited edition bags.

As you look to own your next luxury handbag, here’s a look at some of the most expensive handbags in 2018 and what makes them so valuable.

Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse

The Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse is valued at a staggering US$3.8 million (approx. RM 15.5million). It is said that this bejewelled handbag took 10 artisans over 800 hours of working time to complete this Mouawad number that is currently the world’s most valuable bag ever produced. (Credit: Anthony Wallace/Getty Images)


The heart-shaped 1001 Nights Diamond Purse, with 4517 incorporated diamonds with a total weight of 381.92 carats, is displayed with its presentation case during a Christie’s auction preview in Hong Kong on October 17, 2017. (Credit: Anthony Wallace/Getty Images)

Chanel Diamond Forever Classic Bag

The Chanel Diamond Forever Classic Bag is made up of 334 diamonds, 18-carat white gold hardware, and white alligator skin. The pear-shaped 8-karat stone that sits at the front (depicting the brand’s emblem) can be removed and worn as a brooch. This bag is last valued at US$261,000 (approx. RM 1million).

Hermes Kelly Rose Gold

The Hermes Kelly Rose Gold is crafted to mimic crocodile leather. This stunningly small yet luxurious bag is made out of solid rose gold, a design collaboration between Hermes and jeweller Pierce Hardy. The handbag, which comes dotted with 1,160 diamonds, has taken artisans two years to create and only 12 with three variants have ever been created. It is valued at US$ 2million (approx RM 8.2million).

Lana Marks' Cleopatra Clutch

The Lana Marks’ Cleopatra Clutch is a fan-favorite among A-list celebrities parading on the red carpet. The brand comes out with only one new design a year in a variety of colour and design. It is reported that Li Bingbing currently owns the most expensive Cleopatra Clutch at US$ 400,000 (approx. RM 1.6million) with 1,600 white diamonds encrusted on the piece to match her dress. This number has been spotted on many big names including Jennifer Aniston, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren.

Louis Vuitton Patchwork Bag

There are only twenty pieces of the Louis Vuitton Patchwork Bag. This prized piece presents an unprecedented design, one that features a collection of small bags, ‘Frankenstein-ed’ into a larger piece. It is now valued at US$ 42,000 (approx. RM172,000).

Bottega Veneta Crocodile Flap-Top Accordion Shoulder Bag

This beautiful and timeless Crocodile Flap-Top Accordion Shoulder Bag by Bottega Veneta is made from glossy crocodile with brass hardware. The elegant and easy-to-pair handbag has been seen on the shoulders of Kim Kardashian, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Michelle Williams; and it’s priced at US$ 16,000 (approx. RM 65,000).

Hermes Birkin bag

This limited edition Hermes Birkin bag is crafted from scratch by the renowned Japanese designer Ginza Tanaka. It is made entirely out of platinum and encrusted with 2,000 shimmering diamonds. The bag’s strap can be detached and used as a bracelet or simply as a clutch. It is last valued at US$ 1.9million (approx. RM 7.8million).

Judith Leiber's Precious Rose Bag

The Judith Leiber’s Precious Rose Bag, which is worth US$ 92,000 (approx. RM380,000) is adorned with 1,016 diamonds, 800 tourmalines and 1,196 pink sapphires to be exact. The result is a sculptural piece that can be worn as a statement item or simply to be displayed on a pedestal. (Credit: Judith Leiber)

Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin

The Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin with 18K gold and diamond hardware — one of the most valuable handbags in the world — sits on display during a preview at Christies in Hong Kong on May 4, 2016. The bag is reportedly valued at US$ 255,000 (approx. RM 1 mil). (Credit: Isaac Lawrence via Getty Images)

Martin Teo
Martin has a bent for history and food culture, especially of the Peranakan heritage. Since the pandemic, he finds joy in plant parenting and continues to expand his collection of Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Syngoniums. He's now on a lookout for the elusive Philodendron Florida Beauty to add to his urban garden.