The size, softness and quality of the American crocodile skin make them ideal for certain products. But you use different size and grades (quality) for different types of products. Below we define the grading standards for the American crocodile skin and then provide guidance on which skins should be used for which products.
What Are the Grading Standards?
The grading system for the quality of a crocodile skin is based off a 1-5 number system, 1 being the best and 5 being the worst:
- Grade 1: No defects on the mid-section (including belly and flanks). Handbags typically require grade 1 skins since the large, rectangular main front and back panels being showcased should be flawless. Skins in this quality (especially in large sizes) are very rare and priced accordingly.
- Grade 2: Defect or small cluster of defects along the outer edges of the belly or flanks. The better grade 2's can be used for handbags and the others are typically used for garments. While handbags require a full rectangular panel with no defects, garment panels tend to be longer and not as wide so defects can be worked around. Plus, given the size of garments, customers tend to be more forgiving of small defects.
- Grade 3: Defect or small cluster of defects in one quadrant of the midsection. The better grade 3 crocodile skin can be used for garments and the others are typically used for footwear. Footwear gets very good yields out of the acutus crocodile skin, given their size and quality. Footwear panels are larger than most people expect but not nearly as large as handbag or garment panels, allowing for more flexibility cutting around defects. In addition, these grade 3 skins can be used for wallets and other small leather goods, as long as the customer is comfortable with the relatively large scale size of this crocodile skin on a smaller item. Lastly, very large grade 3 skins can be used for upholstery, where small nicks tend to matter the least given the size and use of these products.
- Grade 4: More than one defect or cluster of defects on the midsection of the crocodile skin. The grade 4 acutus crocodile skin is most commonly used for belts, as crocodile skin belts are typically made of several joined strips. This allows a lot of flexibility cutting around defects.
- Grade 5: Worse than a grade 4. These skins are for special use like small leather goods, leather craft training and decorative application.
The type of defects commonly found on exotic animal skins are holes, scars and scratches. An experienced manufacturer will know how to select skins and cut the usable skin around the defects so they won't show on your products.
The size of the crocodile skin also factors. Typically, the larger the product you are making, the larger the panels you need. The larger the panels required, the larger the skin needs to be.
- 60+ cm crocodile skin is typically best for interiors or luggage (better grades) and belts (lower grades). The scales on these skins are so large that they look disproportionate on smaller products.
- 40-59 cm crocodile skin is best for handbags (best grades), garments, footwear, (medium grades) and belts (low grades). These sizes are quite versatile in terms of size, scale size, softness, thickness, etc.
As a reminder, crocodile skin is measured in centimeters at the widest point in the belly. The American crocodile skins available typically range from 6-10 feet (2-3 meters) long.