patina developed on two aged Popov Leather wallets

Leather Terminology / Other Leather Terms


Definition of Patina

Just like an old bottle of wine, real leather only gets better with age. What’s responsible for this beautiful aging is the leather patina.

Patina is the sheen and character that develops slowly on the surface of real leather products through time, exposure to natural elements like the sun, and regular use.

Carrying, touching, and handling leather products regularly transfers body oils and dirt to them. The accumulation of these oils and dirt will create a darker, richer hue in the areas touched the most.

A slight exposure to the sun’s rays will further give the leather products an organic tan, as it would to animal skin.

These factors collectively create a darkening effect, soft sheen, and a beautiful gradient on leather goods. And as the leather oxidizes and ages naturally, these effects become more pronounced, giving the products a stunning, unique appearance.

There are three key reasons why leather enthusiasts find patina highly desirable:

1. It’s a Hallmark of High Quality

Patina formation isn’t a process that can be replicated through any artificial means. It takes time and patience and only forms in the highest leather grades, like vegetable-tanned leather and full-grain leather.

Natural vegetable-tanned leather with no dyes or pigments will show a patina quickly. This type of leather is almost like a sponge, soaking up anything it comes to contact with.

Full grain leathers contain dyes and pigments, and are graded the second best when it comes to developing patina. They’re the highest quality leather grade and the most durable leather.

2. It’s as Unique as the Owner

patina formed on two full-grain leather belts

For every leather product we make, no two will ever be the same. Every product made from quality full-grain leather will develop a patina as unique as the person using it.

Whatever is done to it adds character that defines it over time. Scratch your wallet, and it will leave a scar. Leave your shoes in the sun, and they’ll tan.

"Both my wallet and notebook cases from Popov leather have experienced several continents over the past 5-6 years. There is one particular scratch on my notebook cover that I can pick out every time..."
- Richard S, Verified Buyer

Expert Tip: While sunbathing your leather products gives them a tan, take caution in the amount of sun it gets because the sun can dry your product and damage it. Occasionally condition all your leather products with a leather balm to ensure proper aging even with sun exposure.

3. It Looks Better With Age

As leather ages and forms a rich patina, it not only becomes softer but also becomes more attractive.

Check out the pictures some of our customers sent us of their well-loved leather goods forming beautiful patinas in our customer patina gallery section.

The easiest way to fasten the patina process is to use your leather goods regularly without being extra delicate. A few drops from the rain won’t hurt, similar to a few fall scratches.

Note: Patina won’t affect the durability or quality of your leather items. If anything, it only increases the value, beauty, and feel of the product.

Example of Patina in a Sentence

"The tote bag will gradually take on a richer patina, making this a piece that will be special for decades to come."

Related Terms for Patina

Written by Ryan Popoff

Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Read more