How to Tell a Real Silk Scarf from a Phony – Every Time
Mistaking an artificial “silk” scarf for a real silk scarf is easier to do than you might think. Typically made from polyester or rayon or silk blended with either fabric, these silk phonies closely resemble their higher quality cousins. Why does this matter? Although fake silk may carry a cheaper price tag, it’s easily ripped, and will fade with use. On the other hand, 100% silk produced in the finest Chinese industries is strong and built to last, and actually becomes more beautiful over time.
Learn these telltale signs to keep touristy boutiques and scam websites from pulling a fast one:
Touch: The most basic of our senses, use touch first when testing silk. Grab several layers of the silk and squeeze it together. First, you should hear a distinctive crunching sound as though you’re stepping on fresh snow. Next, take a pile or layers of silk and rub it against your palm with your fingers. Real silk will get warm, while fake silk stays cool.
Luster and Smoothness: Silk is known for its glistening sheen, and it always feels much smoother than artificial fabric. If you’ve got real silk, the color of the fabric should also change slightly depending on the angle at which you’re holding it. Artificial fabric tends to have a white sheen regardless of the angle.
For a smoothness test, run your hand across the material. The fibers should feel sleek, and the entire cloth should drape naturally. Artificial silk won’t be as smooth, and will be stiffer when you try to tie it or drape it around your shoulders or neck.
Wedding Ring Test: Another easy tactile test you can do in any store is to take off your wedding ring, or any ring, and pull the silk through the small diameter. A lower-ply real silk scarf will easily slide through, while artificial silk will just scrunch up and prove difficult to pull all the way through.
The Flame Test: Although you should perform this test at home with caution, the flame test offers some of the most definitive results. To conduct this test, you should stand over an area with ready access to water, like a sink, or go outside. Remove one test thread from the garment, and hold the thread with pair of pliers to keep your hands safe. Silk can burn up completely within a fraction of a second, and you’ll want to protect yourself and your clothing.
Ignite the thread or fiber with a lighter flame or candle. Genuine silk only burns while the source of the flame is touching it, and will stop burning as soon as the flame source is removed. Burning silk fiber will also smell like burnt hair, and the ash residue should be crispy and loose.
On the other hand, synthetic threads actually catch fire because they are flammable (unlike silk), and will burn as they melt, smelling like burnt plastic or paper. They will also continue to burn with a smoky, sputtering flame after the lighter or candle has been removed. Whether or not the scarf fiber is all synthetic or blended with a natural fiber like cotton or polyester, the residue will resemble a molten ball of plastic instead of sooty, crumbly ash.
Chemical Test: A chemical test is used if you want to be truly sure, and requires the greatest amount of effort. Once you have the test piece purchased and in your own home, you’ll need 16 grams of CuSO4 (copper sulfate), 150 milliliters of water, 8-10 grams of glycerin, and 1 tablespoon of caustic soda. Mix the materials together, and place a very small sample, such as a small thread, into the solution. Real silk will dissolve in a few minutes, and fake silk simply will not dissolve. Make sure you only dissolve a small sample, so you don’t end up destroying your beautiful real silk.
Beyond all the tips we’ve given you to test a real silk scarf, your best bet is to purchase silk through a reputable dealer, known for their genuine silk wares. By finding a dealer who sells 100% Chinese silk, you’ll get a quality, elegant piece of couture that will be easy to take care of without worrying about it fading over time. In fact, silk is a fairly easy fabric to care for, requiring only a hand-wash or gentle cold cycle, followed by line drying.
At Grace Scarves, our silk scarves pass the test. Browse our selection of genuine silk products today, or call/email us to ask us any questions about silk or our company.