Among the many unique features of Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags is the hardware. These include the lock, keys, buckle hardware, and base studs, each of which is finely crafted along with the leather, stitching, lining, and interior of the bag.
Gaining knowledge about the hardware of your Birkin or Kelly bag not only allows you to appreciate the exquisite craftsmanship that has gone in to making the icon, but also helps you spot a fake when making your first (or tenth!) purchase. Our guide below tells you everything you need to know about the hardware on the finest bags ever crafted.
The metallic hardware on Birkin and Kelly bags generally feature one of two finishes – gold plated or palladium finish. However, there are also rare finishes applied to custom bags and unique designs including 24K plated gold, silver palladium, ruthenium, burnished, and guilloche (diamond cut pattern HW palladium). The high quality of these metals resist tarnishing and corrosion, helping the bag maintain its perfect appearance for as long as possible.
The studs on the bag are designed to protect the soft and supple leather from damaging when the bag comes in contact with various surfaces. The finish on the studs always matches the finish on the buckle hardware, lock, and keys in order to resist tarnishing. Even with heavy duty use, the studs should maintain their fresh appearance and resist major scuffing.
Lock and Keys
One of the signature pieces of hardware on Birkin and Kelly bags is the lock and keys. There are numerous subtle details on both the lock and keys to help you distinguish authentic Birkins and Kellys from high quality fakes. The keys for the bag come enclosed in a leather lanyard known as a clochette which is carried by looping it through the handle of the bag.
Before 2000, locks on Hermes bags didn’t feature any serial numbers. Instead they bore the Hermes stamp and a single number on the bottom which corresponds with the key number. Since 2000, the lock features a number of features. Genuine Hermes locks feature the word “Hermes” on the bottom, as does the keys. The lock is also engraved with either one or two sets of numbers which correspond with the numbers engraved on the keys.
It is worth noting that Hermes has changed the style of lock numbering several times, even in the last few years. Therefore, the lock and keys aren’t consistent and it is important to check for the uniform engravings to ensure authenticity. Finally, the clochette cover which houses the keys is made of one single piece of leather. Not two separate pieces sewn together.
- Genuine Hermes bags are equipped with a lock, keys, clochette, buckle, and studs on the bottom.
- The bag sits perfectly on four feet on its own without wobbling. The studs on an authentic bag do not screw off easily.
- The finish on the hardware is designed to prevent tarnishing, however, occasionally tarnishing is possible when the bag is overused. But, this does not include wearing or peeling. If the finish on the hardware is palladium, for example, and there is gold showing through, the bag is a fake. If there is any wear on genuine palladium, it will show up as black.
- The lock and keys have matching “Hermes” inscriptions as well as one or two sets of numbers that correspond with each other.
- The clochette cover for the keys is always made of one single piece of leather.