What’s in a Grade? Cowhide Grading, Explained

From AA's to B's and How Grades Affect Pricing, Find Out More Below

What's the difference between grades?

All of our Nguni cowhides are graded on a sliding scale, with AA being the best, and cutting grades being the worst (we keep a minimum stock of cutting grades for upholstery and accessory manufacturing). So in terms of what most of our customers are looking at, AA is the highest, then A, then B grade hides. This means that AA grade cowhides are the closest to “perfect” you can buy and B grade Nguni hides are much more likely to have obvious signs of damage (what we like to call character). There are even more subtleties, however, as frequently there are A grade hides slightly nicer than AA’s, B’s nicer than A’s, etc. On top of all this, grading is a subjective task, as each person may prioritize all of the elements that go into grading slightly differently. 

What goes into grading?

Grading is mostly about imperfections. The more imperfections in a hide, the lower the grade. Other elements of a hide like its pattern or size can go into grading, but only when it is a sort of outlier (a particularly large or small hide, an incredibly beautiful pattern, etc).

How does all this affect the price of a hide?

When we price our hides, we try to take absolutely everything into account. Everything from the grade, to the size of the hide, its coloring and pattern, the symmetry in it’s cut shape, the shine of the hide, and even it’s uniqueness (in no particular order). The prices you see on our website have been judged by our team of experts to be a fair market price for any particular hide based on the above factors. 

How does color affect the price of a hide?

Coloring of a hide as it relates to price is a simple factor of supply and demand. As an example, gray hides are incredibly popular and also difficult to come by, making it difficult to keep them in stock, and thus driving the price up. Tricolour hides are the second most popular and are also hard to come by, which drives the price up (see the pattern?). Outside of those two, it matters a bit less.


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