How spot fake silk and how to buy genuine silk fabric. There are some ways we can use together to try to spot if a fabric is genuine silk or a synthetical man-made fabric that looks like silk.
Without any questions – genuine, high-quality silk will always be relatively expensive. Synthetic fibres like polyester can be made to look like real silk to the untrained eye. Although synthetic fabrics can be deliberately priced high, low prices usually indicate the fabric is not genuine silk. Real silk usually costs at least ten times as much as synthetics to produce.
Thai silk is famous for its lustre. It is a result of the combination of threads of different single colours in each of the weft and warp. This "shot" effect gives a surface that "shines" and appears to change colour as the angle of light on it changes.
Synthetic fabrics shine white, no matter what the angle of the light.
Silk can be hand-woven or machine-woven. Hand-woven silk has its own individual characteristics. Each piece is unique. Look for slubbing, and slight, very minor variations in the evenness of the weave. These are natural and to be expected – they are what give each piece its individual value.
Machine-woven silk will have a perfectly even weave with no flaws … and very little character.
Synthetic fabrics will mostly also look perfect, although a very few artificial fabrics are made to look very realistic, including slubbing and slight imperfections.
Genuine silk with a printed pattern (not the same as a woven pattern) will have the pattern visible on one side and an outline of the pattern on the reverse side.
Synthetic fabrics with a printed pattern will have the pattern visible on one side and a plain colour on the reverse side.
Genuine silk with a woven pattern will have the pattern visible on both sides but the pattern on the reverse side may appear slightly "fuzzy".
Wedding Ring Test
This test does not apply to all silk, since some silks are much heavier than others. Nevertheless, genuine silk of lower ply can usually be easily threaded and pulled through a wedding ring, demonstrating just how silky smooth and flexible real silk is.
Synthetic fabrics tend to scrunch up, making it very difficult or impossible to pull them through.
This is not a standard test you should perform on silk! However, it is a fairly definitive test.
Take a few threads of the fabric and put a flame to them.
Genuine silk will burn with a smell like burnt hair and will produce a black, powdery ash. It will only burn while the flame is being applied – take the flame away and the threads will stop burning.
A synthetic fabric will burn with a smell like burning plastic and will drip, form a black ball of residue (not ash), and produce black smoke. It will continue to burn even after the flame is taken away.
There are four practical and easy ways to determine true silk, real silk, pure silk. Silk fabric indentification can be done by: 1) considering the price; 2) looking carefully at the weave and 3) luster; and 4) by burning a piece — the best silk fabric test!
1) Pure real silk costs 6-10 times as much as imitation silk made from polyester.
2) Our 100 percent pure Thai silk weave is completely homespun and hand made. The filament is a natural protein fiber with clearly visible small flaws and joins in the thread along the warp and the weft. Imitation silk made from polyester is a machine-made fabric and has a perfect surface with no flaws or bumps.
3) Luster also shows whether a fabric is real or imitation. Our pure Thai silk is usually made with one color for the warp and another color for the weft. This produces the sheen and luster of our silk and creates the unique two tones and blends which change depending on the angle of light. Imitation polyester silk shines white regardless of the angle of the light.
4) If you burn PURE Thai silk (a thread or two is enough) with a flame, it leaves fine ash and smells like burning hair. Use tweezers to hold the fabric, not your fingers. When you take the flame away it stops burning. If you burn imitation polyester silk with a flame, it drips, burns with a black smoke, and continues to burn after the flame is taken away . The three different sizes of digital images for each silk swatch on the World of Thai Silk web site make it easy for you to see the unique qualities of real Thai silk so you probably won't need to resort to the burn test.