Crocodile wallets have been around for a hot meaning. They are a trendy accessory that unequivocally alludes to the deep pockets of its owners. Every avid fashionista dreams of adding such a wallet to their accessory collection. If you, too, have your eye on a crocodile wallet, you should know a couple of things about it. Here, we are going to point out a few aspects you should consider before getting your hands on a genuine crocodilian pocketbook.
When a Crocodile is not a Crocodile
Oftentimes, the terms ‘reptile’, ‘crocodilian’, and ‘crocodile’ are used interchangeably. While crocodiles are reptiles indeed, not all reptiles are crocodiles. Therefore, you need to be very careful with accessories labeled as ‘reptile’ because they are not always all they’re cracked up to be. The same goes for the term ‘crocodilian’, which describes the family within the class of reptiles. All three species are crocodilians but only one species is a crocodile.
More often than not, the term ‘reptile leather’ involves the following species: Caimans, crocodiles, and alligators.
Caiman leather is a lower-budget option, which quality leaves much to be desired. That’s because its leather is relatively dry, rigid, and rough. If you bend or fold it (which is inevitable when you use a wallet), it showcases cracks between bony palates. Of course, manufacturers try to soften the leather and it might look great on day one, but you will have to properly (and frequently) clean and conditioning your wallet to keep it beautiful and functional.
Crocodile leather is similar in appearance (sure, both have scales) but it feels different. It is not as dry as caiman’s and way more supple. Like a champ, it withstands the elements and the rigors of everyday use. You will need to clean and moisturize it every once in a while but it is far from being high maintenance.
Alligator leather is deemed the most luxurious option out of the three most popular reptile leathers. It is slightly more resilient and arguably more beautiful than croco skin. However, its status of luxury is not stemmed from its look or properties. Rather, it is because alligators are less widespread. While crocodiles live everywhere as long as the climate is hot, alligators are natives of North America. Of course, nobody hunts reptiles in the wild. They are bred on farms. Still, alligator farms are few and far between, especially in comparison to the magnitude of crocodile farming.
It is not easy to distingue the three types of crocodilian leather from one another, especially if you’re not an expert. However, these features will help you understand what’s what:
- alligators are the only reptiles that have an umbilical scar. This elongated web-like pattern is located on the belly of an alligator and is often placed on the most prominent place in a product to ease authentication;
- caiman leather tends to develop cracks when you crease it, which is not the case with alligator and crocodile leathers;
- wallets that feature reptile neck bumps will help you identify the species. Crocodiles have four bumps in the upper row and two in the lower one. Alligators have three rows with two bumps in each. Please keep in mind that the size of these bumps can vary in every row. Finally, caiman scale pattern on the neck is 4-4-2.
- Crocodiles have an integumentary sensory organ on their skin. It features hair that grows from the scales. These hairs are removed during tanning but a tiny pore (looks like a puncture) remains.
Belly, Flanks, or Back
When shopping for a real crocodile wallet, you should also consider the part of the hide it is made of.
The back of the head and the spine feature the thickest and the most rigid skin due to bony plates. This leather is suitable only for long wallets because of poor pliability and prominent thickness. Please keep in mind that due to the nature of this skin, it is hard to dye. Therefore, wallets are available in limited colors, and some items can be dyed unevenly. Also, over time, raised parts of the skin might develop discoloration.
Many people truly enjoy the texture of this formidable skin comprised of bumps, horn-like growths, and scales. It is hard to imitate it because hard bony plates underlie it, and it is virtually impossible to incorporate something to mimic this texture.
Belly leather, on the contrary, is counterfeited most often. It is smooth, pliable, supple, and without prominent bony plates. It is also the most expensive part of the hide. Here, scales have the form of rounded rectangles that transition into ovals closer to the sides. These scales are arranged into relatively even rows in crocodiles while they are less evenly distributed in alligators. Caiman belly scales feature more prominent plates. For this reason, they are rougher, wrinkle-looking, and harder to dye. Overall, belly leather is perfect for bi- and tri-fold wallets because it is quite pliable.
Flank leather is a compromise between the back and belly portions. It doesn’t have bumps but it is thicker than the belly, with irregular scales distributed all over it. Alligator scales are dense and rectangle-ish, with no spacing in between. Crocodile leather pattern is less dense and less uniform. The scales don’t adjoin one another so closely. Flank leather is great for any type of wallet and it is quite appealing.