Sac Bijou Birkin: White gold set with diamonds, yellow, blue and pink sapphires, spessartite garnets, aquamarines, and amethysts
OBSESSED 03 Jul 2024 5 MIN

Is that...a diamond- and sapphire-encrusted Birkin?

Hermès just unveiled a rainbow-hued Sac Bijou among other lust-worthy gems

‘Color Vibes’, ‘Color Trip’, ‘Color Flash’—the chapters from Hermès’s new haute bijouterie collection sound uncannily like titles from a Pink Floyd album. And the effects are the same; hypnotic, surreal, and all-absorbing. 

Colour is, of course, at the very core of Hermès. The brand’s signature shade of astringent orange has become so deeply steeped in popular consciousness that it’s a love language. The house even has a silk colour library that documents almost 75,000 shades. Yet this latest high-jewellery drop, Les Formes de la Couleur, was the first time in the house’s history that an entire colour wheel of precious stones has been used in haute bijouterie.  

Pierre Hardy, creative director of Hermès Jewellery, went back to the drawing board (quite literally) for this new 58-piece collection. Hardy, who studied art in college, applied his knowledge of the theory of colour, exploring the inherent hierarchies and relationships between colour and shape. The resulting line is made up of nine distinct chapters; including ‘Portraits de la couleur’, where geometric shapes mimic digital pixelated art, and ‘Fresh Paint’, which can only be described as freehand painting with coloured stones.  

“The aim was to consider how colour is applied to the body, a little like make-up, perhaps,” Hardy explains in a note disseminated as part of the collection. He doesn’t glancingly refer to colour in small swirls, but rather soaks entire pieces in violet, rose, sunset yellow, and blazing orange for a collection that is both strong and enigmatic. “I wanted to make jewellery contemporary and ‘Hermès’ by seeking out as much of the wonder generated by colour as possible,” he says. “The kind of wonder tinged with [the] astonishment we feel when a black and white film is colourised.” J’adore.

Last month, this collection was displayed during Paris Haute Couture Week at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, flanked by the Louvre on one side and a busy Parisian street on the other. As you enter the black-box exhibition enclosure through its heavily curtained doors, your eyes take a minute to adjust to the total darkness; all you see is a frosting of diamonds intermittently punctuated by rainbow hues. The highlights include a sinewy sound-wave necklace, part of ‘Arc en Couleurs’ ('Rainbow in Colors'), made using 1,400 stones that mould to the curves of the décolletage. In ‘Color Flash’, pixelated precious stones reminiscent of Pac-Man form the mother (or motherboard, if you see the pictures) of all brooches. ‘Supracolor’ features a one-off necklace with a prism-shaped 18.41ct quartz embedded with a 1.10ct triangle-cut diamond. From it, comes a waterfall of kaleidoscopic shades: white, orange, and grey moonstone pearls, black and grey spinels, chalcedony, chrysoprase, rose quartz, and pink tourmaline, which cascade down the neck. More of that Pink Floyd imagery coming back to life. 

The real pièce de résistance of the collection, however, is the Sac Bijou, Hermès’ bejewelled reincarnation of its most popular bag—the Birkin. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the bag is remade in white gold and set with diamonds, yellow, blue, and pink sapphires, spessartite garnets, aquamarines, and amethysts. A Rainbow Birkin, if you will?

Miniaturised to be worn as a bracelet on a very (no doubt) discerning couture client’s wrists, these bags can cost up to US$2 million. An earlier iteration, released in 2012, was crafted from rose gold and inlaid with 2,712 diamonds. That bag’s top flap is textured to imitate crocodile skin while diamonds cover the piece’s body, top handles, touret, cadena lock, and clochette. In 2019, the Sac Bijou Birkin was re-released with black garnets and spinels, in an edgier take on the white diamond-crusted original. According to Sotheby’s, there were only three (now four) diamond Sac Bijou Birkins in existence, making these bags exceptionally rare. No doubt then, this new addition is likely to remain on our eternally coveted list.