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Alligator is the crème de la crème hide of the crocodilian species. Found in southern parts of the United States and in areas of China, alligators have a hide that is supple, durable and typically softer than crocodile. While its top hide is extremely tough and virtually impenetrable, the alligator's belly offers softer, pliable leather. It is easily recognized for its unique scaled texture and elegant feel. Alligators have scales that are relatively flat with a few wrinkles around the edge. If you see many lines or dots in the scales, or notice a drastic change in the adjacency of scales, you are probably looking at caiman hide, a crocodilian counterpart. Every alligator skin is different which means that no two leathers will ever be identical. Alligator leather is often dyed and easily cleaned with a damp washcloth.
Crocodiles possess a sensory organ on each of their scales that allows them to live in both fresh and salt water. This sensory receptor explains why their hides display a small dot on each scale and allows us to decipher them from alligators. Crocodile hide is also notably lighter in color than its alligator counterpart. Today, crocodiles are bred and harvested for both their skin and meat, so little goes to waste. Their hide is waterproof, easy to clean and holds its gloss beautifully over time.
Commonly acquired from cattle, leather is animal skin that is typically a byproduct of the nation's meat industry. Animals such as bison, deer, elk, moose, pigs, goats, rabbits, sheep and caribou can also be used. Once the skin is removed from the animal, it is quickly preserved in salt. It is then cleaned, put into a chilling machine to lower the hide's temperature, and tanned to prevent deterioration. Upon completion of this process, the leather is ready to be made into retail items. Leather goods are strong, flexible, supple and long lasting.
Lizard skin is comprised of small, glossy scales in a variety of colors. It is durable and will remain so if treated properly. To keep your lizard skin looking its best, you should first determine which direction the scales move. When running your hands over the scales, it should feel smooth. Be careful to avoid running them in the opposite direction, as you'll give them an unattractive, flaking quality. For this reason, when applying conditioners, do so with the grain of the scales. Lizard hide is tough by nature and it will remain in good condition for many years with minimal maintenance.
Redeemed for its exceptionally supple, slightly oily coat, premium ostrich leather is a true luxury. Its distinct appearance comes from thick quill pattern that covers half its body. Because the tanning process is so tedious and difficult, it requires great patience to cure a flawless ostrich hide. The ideal texture is smooth, soft, consistent in thickness and free from holes. Even color and finish are important indications of a good hide. Generally farm raised in places like South Africa, ostrich skin uniquely gets softer as time passes. Durable, resilient, pliable, breathable and yet naturally waterproof, ostrich hide upholds an opulent, exotic appearance and is an increasingly desirable leather used in high-end fashion houses.
Originally harvested by the Aztecs and Mayans thousands of years ago, natural rubber comes from the sap of wild rubber trees native to Central and South America. It is collected manually by tapping, or cutting into their bark, to free the white sap known as latex. The latex is then shipped to factories where machines make it into everyday products. Highly valued for being waterproof, polyurethane rubber is an exceptionally strong form that conveniently absorbs color. It withstands abrasive environmental forces and is UV resistant, thus making it ideal for watches that will see a variety of surroundings.
Sharkskin Leather Straps:
Distinguished by its distinct texture and durability, sharkskin leather is usually dyed to highlight the round, closely-set pattern of textured scales. Each leather is completely unique with variations resulting from the age, species and size of the shark. As one of the strongest yet flexible leathers known to man, it is perfect for everyday items that experience continuous wear and tear.
Whether anaconda, cobra, sea snake or python, snakeskin is all the rage when it comes to accessories. Due to the vast variety used, their unique textures and patterns vary greatly. Snakes have more visible scales than lizards. Their scales are comprised of keratin, just like human fingernails, and protect the skin, prevent water loss and enable the snake to move fluidly. When touching or treating snakeskin goods, be sure to run your hands in the direction of the scale's grain to prevent flaking.
Stingray skin is amazingly durable and easily resists fire, water, puncturing and ripping. Centuries ago, the stingray was thought to possess great strength and its power was believed to be transmitted to anyone who touched it. Thus, Egyptian artisans created armor and other goods from the skin. Elite Japanese Samurai warriors even used durable stingray leather for the handles of their swords. A genuine stingray hide is extremely durable, shines in the light, and has a rough, yet glistening bead texture.