A mink coat is the coat to many women – and to growing numbers of men. Mink are a member of the weasel family. Although they are found in the wild almost everywhere in North America and in some other parts of the world, the majority of mink are ranched. Very few wild mink are trapped any more because ranched mink are so superior in quality and color. American mink are the finest in the world, thanks to scientific breeding and rearing.
Female mink are smaller and have softer, lighter pelts than the males. Consequently, more female skins are needed for a coat than male skins. It is just as warm, however, although the weight may be less.
Mink is worked in many ways, and every part of the skin is used. It is a very durable fur that can last twenty years or more with care, depending on the quality. Prime quality skins are used natural and will wear the best. Dyed mink represents lesser quality skins – and both the lesser quality and the dyeing mean that it won’t wear as well.
Natural ranch mink: The guard hairs should be silky and even in length, while the underfur should be dense and compact and paler in color. The mink should have a naturally lustrous sheen.
Mutation mink: Again, the guard hairs should be silky and even in length. The color should be clear and uniform. The price depends on the availability – and popularity – of colors. At times, natural ranch mink may be more expensive.
Pieced mink: A coat may be made, wholly or partially, of paws, gills and tails. It may also contain other pieces of mink. If the coat is patterned, such as to give a chevron effect, look for evenness of pattern and texture throughout the coat. Pieced coats may not wear as well as whole skin coats, because of the many seams. A good pieced mink coat should be reinforced on the leather side with nylon or ribbon at points of wear. Pieced mink coats can be very attractive, and they are much less expensive than natural mink coats that are let out or skin-on-skin.