People often ask the question – what is the difference between Cashmere and Pashmina? The simple answer is that nowadays there is very little difference. Cashmere is the westernized word for the soft clothing material originating from the Kasmir region of India. Pashmina is the local name and is derived from “pashm” which is the wool produced from inner hair of certain goats. It becomes Pashmina after it is combed, cleaned and then spun ready for use in clothing. Traditionally Pashmina was finer, higher quality than cashmere which is why it was predominantly used for scarves and shawls since it was lighter and softer than cashmere.
Despite now meaning the same thing, cashmere and pashmina are often each associated with particular items of clothing, for instance a cashmere sweater would rarely be referred to as a pashmina sweater. Even though Pashmina simply refers to the material it is often thought to mean a cashmere scarf or shawl since that was what is was originally used for. The fact is that a cashmere scarf and a pashmina scarf nowadays are the same thing.
When buying a cashmere scarf or shawl it is important not to be misled that Pashmina is better quality. The truth is that both cashmere and pashmina come in a variety of different qualities, The following points contribute to the quality:
- Is the cashmere blended with another, cheaper material?
- Diameter – The best grade of cashmere is 14-15.5 microns. In the United States Cashmere must be under 19 microns. The finer the cashmere is the lighter, softer and more delicate it is.
- Ply – This is when multiple strands of cashmere are woven together. 2-ply is two strands, 3-ply is three etc. It increases the thickness of the clothing which may be desirable in a cashmere sweater, but maybe not always for a cashmere scarf.