This is Part 3 in a five part series on leather.

The quality of leather depends largely on which part of the hide it’s cut from, the tanning methods used, and the type of hide that the leather is created from. In order to understand how leather quality is classified into its five types of leather, it’s also important to understand the anatomy of animal skin (where the hide is taken from) as well as how the leather grading system works:

Anatomy of Animal Skin

The anatomy of animal skin shows which part of the skin the type of leather stems from, whether it’s grain, junctions of grain and corium, or the corium.

Full grain leather, the top grade quality of leather, is derived from higher sections of grain and corium, while top grain leather, considered the second-best grade of leather, is created from the junction of grain and corium. The lowest grades of leather like split leather and bonded leather are often made from th corium of animal skin, although higher grades can also be taken from the junction of grain and corium (more imperfectinos in leather quality).

Grades of Leather

The grading system for leather operates on an A to F scale with A Grade leather being the best quality with no imperfections, and F Grade meaning that it should be rejected by the factory.

A Grade

No imperfections, marks or scars.

B Grade

5-10% imperfection

C Grade

10-20% imperfection

D Grade

20-40% imperfection

E Grade

30-40% imperfection

F Grade

Factory Rejected


Understanding that the quality of leather stems from what part of the animal skin the hide is cut from as well as the grading system in which leather quality is judged by is helpful when considering the five types of leather and which type of leather is the best quality. In the next article in this series, we’ll dive into what is full grain leather and what are the five main types and grades of leather quality.

Everything You Need to Know About Leather Series

Part 1: How is Leather Made & What Are Common Leather Types?

Part 2: Vegetable Tanned Leather or Chrome Tanned Leather?

Part 3: The Grades of Leather & What They Mean

Part 4: Why is Full Grain Leather Considered the Best of the Five Types of Leather?

Part 5: How to Care For Your Leather Bag