How To Tell if Alligator Leather is Real
There are a few thing you can do to see if an alligator leather is real or not:
First, you should know what real alligator skin feels like and smells like. Any “alligator leather” or “crocodile leather” should feel leathery – if it feels artificial or plastic, it is probably not the finish, it probably IS artificial or plastic. Real alligator hides are thick and denser than the fake alternatives. Give it a good smell as well – does it smell fishy/swampy or like tanning chemicals? If it doesn’t have a smell or a very light smell, it is probably not real leather.
Is it shiny? – This is not a 100% determining factor since many tanneries have alligator leather finishes that are shiny and colorful, but if it has a very bright artificial-looking shine, it is probably not real.
Check the brand and the label - High-end brands will almost always use genuine alligator leather. A cheap brand or products from retailers like Target or Wal-Mart are going to be faux alligator leather. See if there is a label present on the bag somewhere that tells you if its genuine or not.
Does it look natural? - Even the highest grade genuine alligator leather will have slight inconsistencies and imperfections. With close examination, you can see uneven scales and maybe slight scarring or bumps.
If you still can’t tell if it’s fake or not, find a part of the questionable alligator leather and put a little cold water on it. (You don’t have to soak it!) Let the water sink in, let it sit for a little bit. When it’s sat for awhile, give it a whiff; if there’s an odor, the alligator skin is likely genuine.
When all else fails - Contact a professional Exotic leather specialist or bring your piece to a retail outlet where alligator leather is sold. A professional leathermaker or salesman should be able to tell instantly if your alligator skin is genuine or not.