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Why a Birkin handbag might be a better investment than gold

The next time you hear a friend brush off an expensive handbag as an "investment," don't roll your eyes.
/ Source: TODAY

The next time you hear a friend brush off an expensive handbag as an "investment," don't roll your eyes — there might be some truth to what she's saying.

Especially if that bag is a Birkin. Of course, you're thinking, "Who can afford a Birkin?!" and we realize it's a select few. But if you are able to get your hands on one of the iconic Hermès bags, it could potentially be worth more than gold, according to a study from Baghunter, an online retailer for luxury handbags.

The iconic Hermès Birkin handbag. This one sold for $203,525 in a Dallas auction.AP

Comparing three different types of investments — the S&P 500, gold and Birkin bags — the research found that while the stock market and the value of gold can swing up and down, that's not the case with Birkins. In fact, the bags continue to increase in value, by an annual average of 14.2 percent, according to Baghunter.

In other words, Birkins don't have bad years, making them "safest and least volatile investment market of the three."

RELATED: Jane Birkin asks Hermès to remove her name from handbag

And while we can't imagine the bags being any more expensive — they start around $10,000 and routinely go for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions — it's likely their value will continue to increase.

Of course, it's hard to believe people are buying Birkins to make money. That's not really what's on shoppers minds when they're saving up for a statement piece, retail analyst Virginia Morris told TODAY.

Stats from the Baghunter study.
Stats from the Baghunter study.Baghunter

"It's much more about a personal return and what you get from that item," said Morris, vice president of global consumer and innovation strategy at Daymon Worldwide. "I intrinsically believe that you should not be buying a Birkin bag or an Hermès bag for the return on investment. That is truly a self purchase, one you should enjoy."

She added that today shoppers are all about "strategic spending," meaning that while they're still interested in buying investment pieces (like a Birkin!), they balance it out by shopping high-low, and picking up cheaper pieces at fast-fashion retailers, for example.

On the other hand, there are people who consider fashion a true investment, points out vintage fashion dealer and author Naomi Thompson.

"I know a number of people who call their collections the 'pension pot,'" the England-based expert told TODAY.

"But I do think that everything in the vintage fashion world is subject to a life cycle," she added. "A decade ago high-end Lucite bags were going for huge amounts, and whilst still highly sought after, they now command a tenth of the price."

Basically, "nothing is a totally safe bet," Thompson said, even Birkins.