HOW TO TELL IF CASHMERE IS HIGH-QUALITY
The Cashmere Goat Association defines “the quality of cashmere fleece by three factors: length, diameter and degree of crimping”. Industry standards dictate that the hair must be at least 3cm long with an average diameter of less than 19 microns (human hair can be up to 181 microns).
Mongolian goats produce a fiber length about a third longer than others. Cashmere fineness range from 14 to 19 microns and has an impact on the warmth and softness of cashmere.
Cashmere fiber is up to three times more insulating than sheep wool. As a result, the cashmere garments made of Mongolian cashmere provide superior warmth. Cashmere is also hygroscopic, meaning it is a naturally breathable material (unlike synthetic fabrics). It also has a high moisture content, where fluctuations of humidity in the air also fluctuate the insulation of the garment, making it comfortable in all climates, even during the summer.
Cashmere fiber has a very narrow diameter making it extremely soft to the touch. To protect the term cashmere, the US Government enacted the “Wool Products Labeling Act”, which states that authentic cashmere has to be 19 microns in diameter or less. The colder the weather gets, the finer the cashmere becomes. Therefore, some parts of Mongolia even produce cashmere with a diameter between 13-14 microns.
Hence, Mongolian cashmere is distinguished by an incredibly soft finish, which is the result of delicate fibers that are almost silky to the touch. It doesn’t have the itchy quality of wool yet still provides insulating warmth without having to be wrapped in layers of it; hence the strong demand for true authentic cashmere.
Every year Mongolia harvests 9,500 tons of raw cashmere from goats. White, beige, warm gray and brown are the four natural colors of cashmere and this makes Mongolia the country that provides the widest color range. Most of Mongolian cashmere goats (51%) produce beige colored cashmere while another 30% produce brown. 2% of Mongolian goats have warm gray cashmere (which is only found in Mongolia) and 18% have white cashmere.