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How to tell if your crocodile handbag is really made of genuine crocodile leather?


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For some months, we have been receiving e-mails every day from people who send us a picture of their handbag or accessory and ask us whether the leather their item is made of really is genuine crocodile skin or if it is alligator leather, just caiman, or even just stamped leather, however good quality.

How can you tell genuine crocodile leather from a simple stamped leather, even if it is of excellent quality?

What are the main differences between caiman, crocodile and alligator leather?

Although we always try to answer every e-mail that we receive as faithfully and sincerely as possible, we unfortunately have to admit that, for the most part, it’s very difficult for us, if not impossible, to make an accurate judgment on the kind of leather which has been used or on its quality, just by basing our analysis on a single photograph, where quite often the item itself isn’t even clearly visible. What we can do is share our knowledge with all those who write to us, to help them understand better for themselves if the item they have bought is really made of genuine crocodile leather, and point out some of the fundamental rules which govern the trade in exotic leather items and which guarantee the type and the quality of the leather used.

Looking at the picture here below, would you be able to recognize if these handbags are made of genuine crocodile, caiman, alligator or stamped leather?

Crocodile handbags

Note: Even if both the handbags would seem be made of the same high qualitative skin, the first bag appearing on your left is made of genuine crocodile skin, while the one on the right is made of cocco Ligator skin. From an aesthetical point of view, they seem very similar each other, but the qualitative level of their leathers is abyssal.

Judging the authenticity of a crocodile handbag on the basis of a few e-mailed photos is absolutely impossible because very often these pictures are of a low resolution and it could happen that a handbag of excellent quality, made with the best selection of genuine crocodile leather would look like a poor quality fake in such photos or viceversa.

Under these circumstances we really don’t feel able to give our customers definitive answers because, in our opinion, it would be both risky and arrogant to do so. Many people do give out this advice via e-mail without any qualms, but, in all good conscience, we really wouldn’t want to give you misleading or incorrect information, nor deceive you and betray your faith in us, nor disparage the shop where you made your purchase.

The best that we can do, without having the actual bag in front of us, as we already said earlier, is give you some simple suggestions on how to tell if the item you have purchased or the one you are about to buy is really made of genuine crocodile leather or if it is made with other types of leather.

The look of the leather can depend on many factors; very often you can easily mistake a very high quality stamped leather for genuine crocodile skin because, without touching the leather and inspecting it closely in great detail, and having to base your assessment on just a superficial viewing of the item itself, giving an accurate and objective judgment is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

What are the main factors that influence how refined a genuine crocodile (or caiman or alligator) item looks on the outside? The appearance depends on many factors; the most important ones are the following:

  • The tanning of the leather: this element is fundamental in guaranteeing a prestigious and quality appearance to the final product. It very often happens that leathers from the same species, worked in the same tannery, are tanned in a different way, assuming a different aspect to each other and, most importantly, a different degree of softness.

  • The skill of the tannery: this process is very important, if not fundamental in establishing the beauty and the elegance of a leather, and so it has to be entrusted to skilful craftsmen who know their job inside out and put passion and determination into everything they do.

  • The size of the skins: genuine crocodile, alligator and caiman leathers, used for making a bag can have either big and small scales, according to the animal’s size.

  • The different sections of the animal skin used to make the bag: very often the use of one specific section of the animal skin rather than another in the sewing process, confers a completely different aspect on the bag itself.

  • The quality level of the skins used: some bags are made using very valuable high quality pieces of leather while others are made of poorer quality leather, in order to make the item itself more accessible in price. Comparing both these bags, the differences in the quality and in the beauty of the bags will be obvious.

These are just some of the most important aspects determining the beauty and the refinement of such a prestigious leather as genuine crocodile. A full list would have to be much longer and more detailed.
Now we’d like to give you some useful advice on how to evaluate your purchase more carefully, reminding you at the same time that, in most cases, the best solution is always directly to contact the retailer who sold you the bag, or from whom you intend to purchase your exotic item, asking him for all the information and guarantees you need to answer your questions and establish its authenticity.


How can you tell genuine crocodile leather from a simple stamped leather, even if it is of excellent quality?

As we already said, a good quality stamped leather can very often look like genuine crocodile skin, almost perfectly reproducing the typical design characterizing this prestigious exotic leather. Its incredible softness too, very often makes a good quality stamped leather easily confused with genuine crocodile when it has been tanned by excellent tanneries. However, if we look more closely, we can distinguish a stamped leather from genuine crocodile skin because, the typical natural crocodile design looks too regular and repetitive here, too perfect in the structure and dimensions of each scale forming the design (or too irregurlar). Besides that, the thickness of a stamped leather remains too uniform, also on the scales and on the natural wrinkles copied from the natural crocodile skin. Stamped leather is usually glossy while genuine crocodile skin is available both in gloss and matt versions and the effect always remains incredibly breath-taking and refined.

Genuine crocodile handbag or stamped leather?

So we can conclude that there is a difference between a genuine crocodile item and a stamped leather product and it is noticeable, but not at first sight (and even less obviously in a photo). As an example we can take a look at our “Cocco Ligator” skin. This is absolutely not a stamped leather being produced according to the so-called Ligator process, using a certain percentage of genuine reptile  skin fibers. However, it is not 100% genuine crocodile skin either. At first sight, our Cocco Ligator looks like genuine crocodile because it perfectly reproduces the natural design of crocodile but, by touching the leather (which is more rigid and compact), you can immediately tell the difference.

Generally only small crocodile skins are used to make genuine crocodile items, from small sized animals whose skin is still soft and malleable, given that the crocodile has not reached adulthood. So, to make a medium-sized handbag, more than one skin will be used. If you should own a large tote bag or a brief-case made with just one large piece of leather, without any stitched joins, you should consider the hypothesis that almost certainly your handbag is not made of genuine crocodile skin.

Then, we must also consider the economic angle: a stamped leather bag will be considerably cheaper than the same model in genuine crocodile leather. Don’t forget that genuine crocodile skin is very expensive, at least here in Italy. Perhaps, in some far off land, where there are even crocodiles swimming in your neighbor’s swimming pool, the cost of this leather might be cheaper but, here in Italy, crocodile and alligator skin (caiman a bit less so) is really very expensive.

If you have just bought a “genuine crocodile bag” for only 200, 300 or 600 Euros or Dollars, you have probably been cheated, because your handbag is definitely not made of crocodile or alligator, or if it is made with genuine exotic leather, this skin will have been illegally imported, not respecting the rules imposed by Cites, to safeguard species threatened by extinction, through specific documents and certificates.

But what are the main differences between caiman, crocodile and alligator skin? If you would like to go into this question in depth, click here!!!!


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