Cashmere and luxury go hand in hand. Perhaps you have cashmere in mind as a luxurious gift for someone special or you want to update your wardrobe with some premium, high quality knitwear?
But is buying cashmere worth the money?
This quick guide will run you through what cashmere is, why it costs more and what the actual benefits of cashmere over sheep's wool are.
What is cashmere?
Cashmere wool fibre comes from the fine, de-haired undercoat fibres of Kashmir goats. This fine hair is taken from the neck region of Kashmir goats, which live predominantly in Asia – specifically Mongolia, Tibet, Northern India, Iran, Afghanistan and China.
How is cashmere made?
Kashmir goats naturally produce a double fleece that consists of a fine, soft undercoat of hair mixed with a straighter and coarser outer coating of hair, known as guard hair.
For the fine hair from the undercoat to be processed and sold as cashmere, it must first be de-haired. De-hairing is the process by which the coarse hair is separated from the fine hair.
After the course hairs have been removed the cashmere is dyed and spun to be converted into yarn, which is then knitted into garments such as jumpers, scarves, hats and gloves.
Why does cashmere cost more?
Cashmere costs more than sheep's wool because there's less of it – it is rarer and harder to source. A Kashmir goat produces only 4 ounces of cashmere wool fibre each year.
There is approximately 2,000,000 tons of sheep's wool produced each year compared to only 6,500 tons of cashmere each year.
The benefits of cashmere
- Cashmere provides unbeatable warmth and insulation, approximately 3 times that of sheep's wool.
- Cashmere is softer than regular wool, giving a luxurious feel to the wearer.
- Cashmere is lighter than sheep's wool, making it perfect for spring and winter and easy to wear to all occasions. The lightness of cashmere makes it a fashionable, luxe option for eveningwear.
- Cashmere is a wardrobe investment – it is long lasting and becomes softer with age. It is durable and rarely pills after being worn and washed.
What to look for when buying cashmere
There are three quality grades for cashmere: grade A, grade B and grade C. The longer and finer the hair of the cashmere, the higher the quality.
- Grade A cashmere is the finest, highest quality cashmere and the most expensive.
- Grade B cashmere is still sumptuous to wear but priced a little cheaper.
- Grade C cashmere is the coarsest of the 3 grades and not considered as pure by cashmere specialists.