When deciding how to frame your diploma, most people think about where they plan to hang the frame and the surrounding decor. Since this is commonly an office, dark mat colors such as black, navy, green and maroon are the most popular choices, as are darker wood tones including mahogany, cherry, and deep walnut tones.
Since leather is a common office furniture element, we have received requests for leather-look matting to coordinate. Unfortunately, no manufacturer has been successful in creating an archival quality leather mat board. The leather surfaces are not acid-free, and do not meet fade and the bleed resistance requirements to be considered conservation-quality. They also have a black core which results in a black bevel when cut. Black core boards are typically buffered to be acid-free, but they are not a conservation quality choice. From a practical standpoint, if you choose a leather mat board for your diploma, you risk the document becoming discolored due to leaching of the acidic surface paper content or the leather color bleeding onto the document.
Above is an actual photo of two diploma frames. The one on the top was framed using a leather mat, the one on the bottom was done in a conservation-grade board. In just a couple of years, the leather mat caused the diploma to discolor.
As an alternative, there are other excellent texture choices for mat boards that look classy and are also conservation-quality. Suede mat board is a perfect alternative. For other archival fabric choices, visit Nielsen Bainbridge’s Fabrics/Textures Color Index.
For more technical information about various types of mat board, take a look at our article on choosing the right mat and we you may also be interested in learning about damaging elements to your framed document and/or artwork.