The shagreen we use is literally the skin of stingrays. Farmed for food in The Far East, the skins are a by-product.
Shagreen has been used as a luxurious decorative covering for hundreds of years, reaching a peak in popularity during the Art Deco period, used chiefly on decorative objects such as cigar and jewellery boxes, but also on larger pieces of furniture. It has been enjoying a renaissance of late and is now seen on all shapes and sizes of objects.
Many Samurai chose to have their sword hilts covered in it, as it would absorb sweat in the heat of battle without becoming slippery and is virtually bulletproof, being quite literally as hard as bone. It is expensive and hard to work with, thus it is considered a luxury finish. Here at Hugo de Groot we have been using only the highest grade of tanned skins for many years, and can colour it to any shade desired.
Some clients request predyed skins which give a more uniform colour. We do not work with faux shagreen, but can easily source it if asked.