Somehow, every word of that headline is true

The luxury industry is a weird business. In most sectors of the consumer market, the price of something is correlated to how much it costs to manufacture that thing in a fairly straightforward way—profit percentages vary depending on the product category, but competition drives the prices for most things down eventually. Fashion, in some ways, works the opposite way: the more expensive something is, the more it seems rare and special, and the more people want it, as long as it also looks expensive and signals that to others. In this scenario, manufacturing price and retail price have a far more nebulous relationship, especially in the high-margin product categories of handbags, shoes and accessories.

Once a company has gained its clients’ trust as a reliable provider of both fine leather goods and the frisson of pleasure that comes from silently letting other people know you’re rich, it can basically draw its prices out a hat and a sector of its clientele will still line up, credit cards in hand. Perhaps no company illustrates that more clearly than Hermès, and perhaps none of its products throw the idea into such stark relief as the Hermès Galet Paperweight, which is literally a rock with a leather strap around it.

I’m mostly desensitized to luxury prices after nearly a decade in the industry, but every now and then I come across something that just feels downright hostile to the people who fill these companies’ coffers. Occasionally, it’s almost like a brand is looking its shoppers in the eye and daring them to be dumb enough to spend an outrageous amount of money on something clearly worth nowhere near it. This paperweight feels like one of those occasions. Hermès is calling your bluff on your own belief that you’re an intelligent and discerning consumer.

On the other hand, here’s the pitch: the Galet Paperweight is part of the brand’s petit h program, which seeks to use leftover materials from the manufacture of the brand’s bags, accessories, shoes and silks to create irreverent little trinkets, charms and other small goods that can be paired with the brand’s other products. In this case, the brand is advertising every stone as unique, so it seems like the leather strap itself is what makes this piece part of petit h. Unless weird rocks are somehow used in the manufacture of handbags, I guess.

Should you want to encourage this behavior in Hermès, either for yourself or on behalf of a soon-to-be very confused gift recipient, you can buy the Galet paperweight in five colors via Hermès for $840.

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