Crocodile, Alligator, and Caiman Leather – How to Tell the Difference

Most consumers cannot tell the difference between crocodile leather, alligator leather, and caiman leather when it comes to purchasing high-end luxury items. This is a daunting task for the untrained eye - if you want to distinguish between the three, you should first understand the difference in market value: Alligator and Crocodile have significantly higher market value than caiman skin.  This is due to their strength and availability, you will find that alligator and crocodile are true luxury goods while Caiman leather, even though its a genuine leather and similar in appearance (thus its appeal in lower budget markets), it has significantly lower value and significantly lower durability. It is very important to distinguish between these when purchasing high-end consumer goods like handbags, purses, wallets, belts, etc. to avoid purchasing an inferior product at a premium cost. Sometimes dishonest salesman and exporters will claim that their products are genuine Crocodile leather, only to find out later that what they have actually purchased is a much cheaper Caiman skin product. The biggest difference between Caiman and Alligator or Crocodile leather is that the Caiman leather is not near as durable.  A Caiman fuscus crocodile have small bony plates - if you bend the leather across these plates you will see that the leather creases between the scales.  While the skin is still pliable and very strong, these thick scales are the telltale signs that you have Caiman leather.  A proper Alligator or Crocodile hide will not have these bony scales.  A saltwater crocodile (such as the Nile Crocodile) and the American Alligator skins will have smoother, seamless bend without any spaces between the scales. Note also that between Crocodile and Alligator that a genuine Alligator hide likely comes from the Southern United States and will feature an umbilical scar that is unique to the species. Keep in mind that Caiman crocodile is still luxurious, durable, and gives the appearance of it's larger Crocodilian cousins.  They tend to be smaller and more common, which is translated in their lower prices.    Be warned that many wholesalers, exporters, and salesmen often try to pass Caiman fuscus crocodile as genuine Alligator or Crocodile leather, so if you're looking for Saltwater Crocodile, be sure to know the species of Crocodile is not caiman if you're really looking for the the larger crocodile. A surefire way to be sure you are getting what you paid for when purchasing crocodile hides is by sourcing your material through a direct exotic leather broker who distinguish Caiman from the more expensive crocodile species -  American Exotics distinguishes these two species of croc - or by purchasing your Crocodile handbags, belts, and other products through a reputable retailer or wholesaler with the knowledge of the grading systems and quality of the skin.

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