"Alligators are like women," an old, wise man once said, "the best ones are soft, supple and nonbelligerent."
To conduct the alligator or crocodile skin quality test, start from running your finger over its surface, in order to examine its treatment and finish. The best ones have a sculptured effect, achieved by a special method of tanning (Bombe), when each scale is domed separately by hand. If the surface is flat, a less expensive tanning method is applied. The finer the skin is, the more it yields, when you press your thumb against it.
Then, examine their scales and pattern. They can tell you the story about where the alligator or the crocodile lived, how it lived, and whether it is worth buying. While scrutinizing the grain, ask yourself the following questions:
1) Does the front match the back in pattern and symmetry? In the finest goods, both sides have similar patterns.
2) What is the size of the scales? The smaller the scales, the finer the quality. Most valuable are the underbelly cuts of baby American Alligator with the tiniest scales. Note that sometimes cheaper lizard could be misrepresented as expensive "baby alligator or baby crocodile."
3) Can you see the center line that divides the pattern into two parts mirroring each other? If yes, you made the right choice.
In addition, skins are also valued based on their grade, cut, pattern, and finish. For details, please see the Skin Quality page.