Buyer's Guide: How To Choose Quality Cashmere

If you're looking to purchase a quality sweater, scarf, or pair of gloves, read this buyer's guide to find out what to look for in Cashmere clothing and accessories.

Sweaters made out of Cashmere have been a popular piece of clothing for many decades. Cashmere is also made into soft gloves and scarves. Cashmere is wool that is known for being soft and lightweight and for its warm and comfortable feel. A fine quality cashmere sweater is rather costly because the natural material comes from longhaired goats that are raised in China. Since a goat only generates about fifty grams of cashmere wool every year, and it takes between one hundred and fifty and four hundred and fifty grams of cashmere to make a sweater, this material is in relatively short supply. On top of that, the process by which a cashmere sweater is complicated, making it time consuming and costly.

As with many other products, you can purchase a sweater that's made out of a lower grade of cashmere, and save yourself some money in the process. You can tell the difference between the finer quality cashmere and the cheaper wool because the latter does not feel as soft. This is due in part because some manufacturers often save costs by mixing cashmere with camel hair or manmade wool. Therefore, the fabric isn't one hundred per cent cashmere.

If you're in the market for a quality cashmere sweater, or a scarf, or a pair of gloves, you'll need to check the tag to make sure the garment is made from pure cashmere, and not a mix of cashmere and other materials. Even if the label says the sweater is made of one hundred percent cashmere, you should rub the fabric with your hand to test it. The sweater should feel soft - not rough- to the touch. You can check the tag too, on the garment to find out if it is "one ply" or "two ply". "Two ply" wool is heavier than the "one ply" type, but the thickness doesn't necessarily mean that it's a better quality material. A thicker cashmere sweater is made by using a greater amount of wool, so the only differences will be the cost and the amount of warmth it will provide.


Another test you can perform is to gently grab the wool and pull it out, then let it go. A fine quality cashmere sweater, scarf, or pair of gloves will return to its original shape. It will not pull out of shape easily. It will be rather tightly knit, and not loose.

It's also important to note that the best-made, highest quality of cashmere sweaters, scarves, and gloves are made in Scotland.

In order to keep your cashmere garment soft and looking its best, you should store it in a cool, dry closet inside a closed plastic bag. Then, when it needs to be laundered, your wool sweater, scarf, or pair of gloves should be either dry-cleaned or hand washed. Check the tag for specific instructions on how to care for the garment. If you hand wash your cashmere, you should use cool tap water and a gentle detergent. Never use chlorine bleach on cashmere as this harsh chemical can harm the wool. You should also gently squeeze - don't wring - the garment out. Rinse the cashmere garment out over and over again until you are sure that you have rinsed the soapsuds out completely. A soapsuds residue will cause the fabric to feel rough and stiff.

Then, lay the cashmere sweater, scarf, or gloves out flat on a thick bath towel and allow it to air dry. Don't place anything that's made out of wool in a clothes dryer, because the heat will cause the garment to shrink.

© Demand Media 2011