Pashmina literally means made from wool.The wool comes from the hair of the Capra goat that is found in the upper reaches of Ladakh and Tibet. The hair is silky and fine, less than 14 microns. Compare that to a human hair that could range between 17 to 180microns! Pure pashmina shawl can cost between few hundred to thousands dollars depending on the workmanship.
True pashmina is very rare and takes over 6 months to weave a single shawl. The yarn is very delicate to weave together, and makes the process even longer. Handlooms and powerlooms, therefore mix pashmina with silk, viscose, nylon to make it durable and easier to handle on the loom. So, if a store claims that their shawl is pure pashmina, you will need to conduct a few tests :
Pure pashmina is a very tedious, long procedure. The yarn is rare and delicate too. As a result, the price of Pashmina shawl will be atleast a few hundreds of dollars and closer to thousands. So, this can already be a starting point to test if the product is genuine. However, price cannot be the only determining factor. A store can easily upmark your scarf and you can get fooled into thinking it is geuine.
Though at times Pashmina may have some sheen but it is a matte fabric. If it has a shiny appearance it means that it is blended with silk or perhaps nylon which was not dissolved.
A true pure Pashmina will mention its yarn diameter. A good quality pashmina yarn will be below 19microns
Check the weave:
A pure Pashmina scarf is handwoven. If it is handwoven, you will find irregularities in its weave. If it is machine woven then it has been mixed with silk or a synthetic yarn to make it durable on the machine loom
Like silk, the ultimate test could be a burn test. Just take a strand of thread from the scarf and burn it. If it smells like hair and reduces to ashes, it probably might be true. However, if it is synthetic then it will roll up like plastic and will smell like plastic too.
Do the pilling test:
Natural fabric tends to pill over a period of usage, sometimes almost immediately. If the fabric is synthetic, then it will resist to pilling.
Do check out some Pashmina blends from Shanasaa
Disclaimer: At Shanasaa, we stock Pashmina blended with wool or silk. Pure pashmina was really hard to get for us, and we hope we can bring you some real pashmina one day!