This is the standard factory finish for most granites and marbles. A polished surface is glossy and highly reflective and the least porous of the finishes available. Polished marbles can be etched with many household acids and cleaners.
Leathering starts with a polished surface and adds texture. Additionally, it closes the pores of the stone (compared to honing) and retains the color better than honing. A leathered finish has a soft sheen but is not as reflective as a polished surface. The amount of texture produced varies from stone to stone and some extremely uniform stones will not leather at all. On a very dark material such as Absolute Black granite, leathering is preferred to honing because the resulting finish is very uniform, preserves the majority of the stone’s colour and is much easier to maintain than a porous honed surface.
This is actually a style of finishes rather than a particular finish. Leathered, river washed and tumbled finishes are all examples of an antiqued finish. A factory finish similar to a leathered finish is sometimes called an antiqued finish.
This term is sometimes used to refer to either a leather finish or a river washed finish. Unfortunately, this leads to ambiguity as there are distinct differences between the leathered and river washed finishes.