Edgy, plush, and sleek, an alligator wallet is a sought-after item for every fashionista.
However, fashion plates are not the only ones hunting down genuine reptile accessories. If you appreciate a durable and easy-to-maintain pocketbook, an alligator model will definitely please you.
Why Alligator Wallets are So Pricey?
Reptile leather products are more than eye-catchy items designed to emphasize the high status of their owners. Yes, they rock a hefty price tag but they are totally worth it. Alligator skin is rather rare, reptile breeding is very expensive, it requires a lot of skill and knowledge to tan exotic skin, accessory production involves manual labor – all these factors contribute into a high cost of alligator leather accessories.
But if you are ready to pay this price, you will get a beautiful and super durable item that will stay attractive and fully functional after dozens of years in your pocket.
Before you purchase an alligator bi- or tri-fold, you need to make sure a seller has all the required documents to confirm its authenticity.
Also, there must be the CITES certificate in place to ensure no skins of endangered species has been used. Certified manufacturers supply skins from reptile farms that support sustainable production and run their business responsibly.
Alligator Wallets: Beware of Fakes
Since alligator leather is luxurious and expensive, it is often forged. Some unscrupulous manufacturers try to pass artificial materials for genuine leather while others sell cheaper reptile skins under the guise of alligator leather.
You should know how to tell the difference between a real alligator billfold and a knock-off.
Alligator vs. Other Reptiles
There are a few reptile species used for accessory production – alligator, crocodile, and caiman. The latter is the cheapest leather while alligator is the most expensive. If you are not an exotic leather expert, it may be extremely difficult to tell the difference between these skins.
However, you can learn some distinctive features from our alligator wallet buyer guide.
So take a reptile wallet and look closely at its exterior. You might be able to see signature hornback scales. All the species have these horns but they are arranged differently. If there are two rows of 4 and 2 horns each, it is crocodile skin. Alligators carry two or three rows with two scales each while caimans have three rows arranged as 4-4-2.
Hornback leather looks impressive but it is thick and tough so premium products often feature pieces from other parts of reptile body. Belly leather is smooth, thin, appealing, and the most expensive.
All the species have somewhat similar belly patterns but there are dissimilarities, too.
Crocodiles have more or less even tummy scales while alligators feature irregular and weirdly shaped ‘cells’ across the tummy.
Also, only alligators have so-called belly button scar that looks like a cobweb or a crack. It is ironclad proof of authenticity so manufacturers tend to place this scar in the most prominent place.
If you notice a small hole inside the belly scales, it is real crocodile leather. Only these species have sensitive hairs on their body which are removed when the skin is tanned.
On the other hand, some manufacturers try to polish or seal these pores so if you don’t notice any of those, it is not yet a red flag.
Caiman leather is more rough and thick than that of other reptiles. If you see many small cracks and wrinkles and the leather itself feels dry, it is caiman skin for sure.
Genuine Leather vs. Сounterfeit
Abdominal reptile leather is the most attractive and soft but also it is the easiest to forge. If an accessory supposedly made of belly leather carries a surprisingly affordable price tag, it is likely to be a fake. To make sure you really get what you pay for, look closely at the scales.
If they are of a similar size and shape or fragments of the same pattern repeat across the piece, then it is an imitation. Real scales never have repeated patterns; the scales arrangement of every hide is unique.
If your wallet is made of leather taken from body parts other than belly, you should make out horny growth called osteoderms. They are developed under the scales and make the skin more rigid and thick. If you push your finger against genuine leather, you should feel this hardened growth.
Artificial leather just won’t have it. Due to osteoderms, it is difficult to dye leather evenly. If you come across a wallet that has a uniform finishing, it’s a reason to be wary.
The last thing I’d like to add to this alligator wallet guide is the country of origin. Alligators live only in Northern America so if you buy a wallet from Asia, it is probably made of a different material than you hope for.
Instead, Asian countries have many crocodile farms, which make them the best source of quality-made and inexpensive crocodile pocketbooks.