How to Tell Genuine American Alligator Skin from Faux

November 07, 2017

Genuine American Alligator Skin

Without looking at the price tag, can you distinguish a genuine American alligator belt from an embossed leather belt? The truth is that replica alligator leathers, particularly those machine pressed calf leathers, have gotten so good in that an untrained eye can hardly tell the difference. Having years of experience working with alligator hides, I can easily spot faux alligator print when I see one. To help you shop with confidence, I have put together a list of things to look for in a real alligator hide. 


First things first: Alligator vs Crocodile

At Accenti, we only use American alligator hide for our products. While shopping online, you may have seen a number of products made from other crocodilian species from variety of regions, for example, Caiman crocodile or Nile crocodile. While crocodiles are found all over the world, American alligators are native to Southeast USA, and American alligator hides are the most expensive due to their aesthetic beauty, and their soft and smooth scales pattern. 


Scales Size and Pattern

Genuine alligator hide, or any reptile hide/skin for that matter, will have imperfections and a unique scales pattern. Depending on the cut - belly section or tail section, or a bit of both - the scales will naturally vary in shape and size. And, though naturally beautiful, like everything else in nature, alligator scales will never have geometrically perfect proportions.

The scales pattern in genuine alligator will not repeat every few inches as is often the case in embossed/printed leather, and, you will never find two items that have exactly the same scales pattern. For example, all our alligator belts, even in the same size and style, will each have a unique scales pattern. 

When bent, the larger scales will subtly rise, exposing the underlying, softer skin layer that is connecting them - it will have naturally occurring multiple ridges and creases.

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Reptile skins, including alligator skin, are thin and do not have much elasticity - they require gentle care and regular conditioning to prevent them from drying, becoming brittle and cracking.  Cowhide and pig skins, on the other hand, are thicker and much more elastic, making them perfect for casual, everyday wear. If the "alligator skin" you are looking at is flexible and stretchy, then that nice alligator pattern, unfortunately, was man-made. 



Alligator skins are available in a variety of colors and finishes, including glossy, semi-glossy and matte, and, in itself, the skin finish will not be a good indicator of genuineness, but in combination with other attributes, it might help. If the skin looks too glossy, too artificially looking, then it probably is.


and, finally, the Price Tag

No matter how good is the seller's value proposition, there is a minimum price level that he will need to maintain to remain profitable. When it comes to American alligator skin products, a too good of a deal should raise a red flag. For example, an alligator belt that is sold below $150 a piece is either pre-owned, damaged, poorly constructed, or made from embossed calf leather, or cheaper exotic skin, which is disguised as genuine American alligator. 

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