Investing In Exotic Leathers: Stingray and Snakeskin

So, what exactly is exotic leather?  Continuing the series from our previous blog on Exotic Leather, basically, it is leather not derived from land animals raised for their meat, dairy or by product uses such as cows, buffalo, sheep, goats and pigs.  Exotics skins (the crocodilian family, lizard family, ostrich, fish family, etc.) tend to come from more tropical or warm climate areas.

Exotic leather tends to be more exclusive and pricier than most cowhide and the look and feel of these leathers are distinctive, rare and beautiful. 

A leather artisan respects and understands the nuances and components of individual exotics.   These skins will range from super delicate to rigid and coarse.  The size of the animal will make a difference in the number of skins needed to produce a product.  Many factors go into determining the tanning process; ranging from vegetable tanning to chrome dyeing.  Skins that possess certain fleshy textures are thicker and can be split or skived for a thinner and more pliable piece. 


The grain can range from soft and flexible where a stiffening material may be needed to hold shape; while in other instances, the skin can be dense and rigid with a shell like appearance and texture.  And, of course, depending on the product, leather crafters may even work with skins with hair as part of the design.

Distinguishing Between Fake and Real


Elements that determine the price of an accessory sewn from an exotic leather is its rarity, the long tanning process, and the intensive labor in making a bag all factor into the high expense. 

Handbags and other goods made from these skins will range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars as opposed to cheaply embossed leathers that will be priced very inexpensively. 


Admittedly, over the years, leather embossers are quite good, however if knowledgeable there are several ways to distinguish the real deal.  


Due to size, artisans produce smaller products such as clutches to use one whole skin or will need to use more than one for larger products.  If a large bag is seamless and looks to be one piece of leather, the odds favor that it is probably embossed cow leather.

Embossed snake skin’s patterns tend to have recurring patterns versus natural imperfect patterns of authentic snake skin.

With stingray, real skin is natural, hard and the calcium deposits are resistant to fire and heat and won’t scratch as opposed fake stingray made of plastic, has a soft and pliable feeling, will melt or burn after a few seconds under a small flame, scratches and disfigures easily.

Stingray 101

  • The skin’s strong surface, considered to be 25 times stronger than cowhide.  Once dried and tanned the skin forms a rock hard, translucent, glass-like beaded look (known as calcium scales) which can be dyed in a multitude of colors.  
  • The hide is weightier than other leathers making it one of the strongest leathers, although some parts of the skin can be quite floppy and somewhat flexible.  
  • Stringray leather originates mainly from Southeast Asian countries considered a food source where fishermen were known to toss the skin back into the ocean once the meat was attained.  The leather fashion industry now covets this leather for its versatility and artistry for accessories.
  • Stingray handbags and belts are undeniably gorgeous  and make for striking, protective phone case covers.
  • The softer and more flexible parts of the leather are used in jewelry making particularly bracelets.
  • The leather is particularly tough making it a perfect material for motorcycle racing wearables – especially gloves and seats
  • Stingray is one of the toughest leathers to work with for Artisans to cut and sew through the enamel layer.  It takes years of training and working with this textile to result in stitching consistency for a finished work of art.
  • Different cultures have used stingray for grips on Chinese swords, Scottish basket hilted swords and Japanese Katanas for Samurai warriors
  • Its durability and beauty has allowed interior designers to incorporate onto walls, panels and furniture as well. 
  • A design element that leather artisans want to be sure are prevalent on the accessory has to do with the grinding away the peaks of the pearl structure.  The design can be a single or multi-bright, diamond-shaped spot  (called eyes or crowns) or a decorative middle row or sanding  the entire surface to create an extraordinary design effect. 


As with all high end leather products, we strongly suggest entrusting the detail work to a leather cleaning professional.  

However if you decide to incorporate DIY methods in removing dirt, it is advised to simply wipe the accessory with a very slight dampened cloth.  With tougher spots use a very mild soap with water and gently clean the surface area.  Be careful in rubbing too hard as most stingray skins are both dyed and surface painted producing the extraordinary color.  Rubbing too hard may remove the surface cover and show the grayish scales underneath.

Store your stingray accessories separate from other leather products to prevent sticking together.  Stay away from wrapping in plastic to prevent drying out.  It’s best to wrap in paper, particularly tissue paper, and store in the cloth bag that provided at when purchased.  Keep your stingray products stored away from heat, sunlight, and moisture to preserve the leather’s natural oils and moisture.

Snakeskin 101

  • Leather goods are usually produced from these five snakes: the Python, Cobra, Anaconda, Boa, Kurung, although there are several other categories– Python and Karung being the most popular among leather artisans and designers..
  • Countries that manufacture snakeskin and are the biggest consumers are Italy being the largest, then the United States, Japan, followed by other smaller European markets.
  • Asian cultures consider snake meat to cure various ailments, such as asthma and boost virility
  • Both Snakes Have scales which are slick and astonishingly soft.   
  • Depending on the clients’ needs, the dying process will create a matte (flat) finish or glossy finish.  Manufacturers are also able to produce either more traditional natural colors or dramatic colorful graphic prints.
  • The python leather is super distinct and a leather designer will use either the belly or the back that usually features a diamond pattern.
  • Karung leather has a finer scale pattern and is shinier than python
  • Snakeskin leather is  usually chosen for smaller handbags, belts, and shoes, (especially sneakers for enhancing streetwear design)


 Keep in mind to keep your exotic snake skins away from moisture and if exposed to water or liquids dab with a soft towel as quickly as possible.  Light and heat can also be damaging and affect the color over time.  The accompanying storage dust bag is the best protector.  

You’ve spent a substantial amount of money on your exotic leather accessory, cleaning is without a doubt, best done by a leather cleaning professional.  For the occasional light dusting, use a soft lint- free polishing cloth and ALWAYS go with the grain of the scales or else you will permanently damage the leather. For deeper dirt removal, use a soft cleaning brush with the same advice to brush in the same direction with light pressure.  

Beau Satchelle’s responsibility and commitment to sourcing skins from vendors who are dedicated to working with communities that consume these specific animals for food sources resulting in the skins becoming by-products. 

We constantly research our suppliers’ practices with sustainability, waste and ability to support the communities where they conduct business.   We seek out vendors who follow all state, federal and international laws regarding the sale and distribution of exotic skins and have set high standards with environmental ethics and wildlife safety.  As a luxury brand, we are committed to being a good steward towards our use of exotic skins.

You can visit our website’s ‘Sustainability’ page for more information on our processes.           

Beau Satchelle has the ability to be commissioned to design and manufacture one of a kind accessories made from these incredibly interesting leathers.  What makes our process distinct is partnering with our clients to create a personal wardrobe addition that, with care, will last for generations.   Whether modifying one of our collection pieces or starting a client from scratch in choosing an exceptional exotic leather..  Before a bespoke product is created for a client  with the selected exotic skin, a paper design blueprint is made followed by a prototype usually made with an embossed cow leather for client sign off.  Needless to say, it is a joy to work with such beautiful skins in creating customized goods.


If you’re ready to start the journey in designing your own personal bespoke exotic leather bag or other fine accessory, complete our contact page or send us an email at info@dev.beausatchelle.comfor a complimentary consultation.   -AJ 

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Thank you to the following sites for source content

Leather Dictionary 

Anvil Customs

Thank you to the following photographers for their visual contribution:

Mason Supply – Snakeskin covered Iphone

Freddie 10 – Python leather


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