Nappa leather

Definition, history, and origins of Nappa leather

Nappa leather refers to lamb, goat or calfskin. It is a very fine, smooth and worked leather. It is the fruit of transformations in the tannery. In addition to its traditional treatment, surface treatment is added to protect the skin as much as possible. It is characterized by its soft, grain-free appearance and its resistance to sunlight and weathering.

For the most curious, here are the steps to transform leather skins :

  • First of all, the skins must be salted and kept at a temperature of about 10°C in order to preserve them. During this stage, they can lose up to 10% of their weight in water.
  • 15 days later, the skins are sorted according to their quality (thickness, defects, weight, size, etc.).
  • They are then sent to a tannery. This is where the "river work" begins, which consists of 5 operations: soaking (to get rid of the last impurities), depilation (to remove the hairs), scarring (removal of the subcutaneous tissue), jamming (softening of the leather), pickling (acidification of the skin). The skin is then tanned (transformation of the skin into leather thanks to tannins).
  • The leather is then wrought (chemical and mechanical treatment that gives it its color, suppleness..... ). 
  • It is then wrung out one last time, and put in the wind to be stretched and dried.
  • Finally, the last step is called finishing. This is where leather takes its visual characteristics (its grain, appearance, waterproofing, etc.).

After the technical part, let's talk a little bit about history now. Leatherwork is an ancestral activity. It originated in prehistoric times when men wanted to protect themselves from the elements and began to design clothes or huts. Indians also use it to cover their tipis. However, the precise date of the beginning of tanning is not known. In the Middle Ages, leather workshops were all located near a river. The same is true for the first artisanal tanneries before the development of the chemical industry in the 19th century. This industry then grew in size and new techniques appeared. As activity in constant motion, progress is being made in terms of protecting the environment and reducing its impact.

Its maintenance and characteristics

Nappa leather is extremely pure and thin, which makes it vulnerable to wear and tear. Although it receives treatment in order to be resistant, it must be maintained 2 a year if you want to keep it intact. Leather jewelry blends perfectly with gold or silver and immediately brings a touch of character to the creation.

Concerning the care of leather, here are our little tips:

  • First, the leather must be cleaned. Use a cotton material slightly soaked in water to remove dust. 
  • The use of a delicate cream to clean and preserve the original finish of your jewelry.
  • The use of colorless milk for leather or even body milk or make-up remover. It cleans the material and provides it with all the nutrients it needs to hydrate it properly. 
  • Finally, do not forget to protect with a waterproofing agent. 
  • For more information, do not hesitate to refer to the following article on leather care.

After having dwelt on good practices, here are some mistakes not to make with your leather jewelry:

  • Never put it into a cleaning machine.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun or near a heat source. The heat dries out the leather and brightens it up. Beyond the fact of damaging it, your leather jewelry can shrink.
  • Make sure to store your leather jewelry properly to prevent it from coming into contact with other jewelry that could scratch it. 
  • Never clean your leather jewelry with a sponge, a hard brush... or any other abrasive material.
  • In case of rain, avoid drying your leather near a heat source (fire or heater), this would dry it out and could also deform it. Simply rub it gently with a cotton cloth.

Now that you know everything about leather, find it in the sublime creations of art'emi !