Real Silk and How We Know Its Pure

Muezart Gets the Silk Mark - Our Search and Discovery

While researching ways to sell our products, Muezart stumbled upon blogs and forums where people were discussing the quality and authenticity of silk. Many buyers have had the first-hand experience of buying fake silk or imitation silk as it’s called. Bearing an exact resemblance to silk it is but impossible to distinguish the real McCoy from the fake to the untrained eye. Being a luxurious and expensive fabric worthy to be worn only by the rich and elite, cheap imitations started being invented. Not only as a get rich quick fix for con-men but these imitation silk fabrics are in demand in the fashion industry. Synthetic silk fabrics are often blended with other textile fibers like cotton, wool, and even real silk. Pure artificial silk or as a blend is a popular material in fashion. Artificial silk is appealing not just because it is a low price look-alike silk but also because the material is more durable in dry conditions than real silk and easier to care for.

So How Do We Distinguish the Two?

Mulberry Silk derived from the Bombax Mori silkworm is the only commercialized silk in the world. With more verities of silk fibers like Eri, Tassar and Muga appearing in the market customers are finding it difficult to spot the fake. Unless you live, eat and talk silk you wouldn't stand a chance to know about its purity. There are a number of ways for reference which can be used in combination to try and determine if a fabric is a genuine silk or a synthetic man-made fabric that looks like silk. The references below should not be used individually and are meant as guidance purposes only.

 

The Price

It is the easiest way to tell pure silk from others. The silk that is genuine and high-quality will always be comparatively expensive. Although synthetic fabrics can be intentionally priced high, a low high price usually indicates the fabric is not genuine silk. The cost to produce a pound of silk would be at least ten times as much as synthetic man-made fabrics.

Lustre or Sheen

Different kinds of fabrics have their own luster. For Silk, it has a shimmering look. The technicality of the shimmering appearance of silk is due to the structure of the silk fiber, which allows silk cloth to refract the light at different angles. So when held against the light at different angles it produces different colors. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, produce a white sheen even if held at different angles against the light.

Woven Fabrics

Silk, when woven, has its own unique characteristics especially hand-woven silk fabrics. Although silk can be machine woven, the hand-woven silk fabric has its own individual character. You can easily notice slubbing, which is very slight or minor variations in the evenness of the weave. This is a natural effect and will be prominent when blending handspun yarn with fine-spun yarn. Synthetic fabrics will mostly look perfect, and duplicating slight imperfections in an artificial fabric cannot be made to look realistic.

Feel of the Hand

Mulberry Silk is silky and smooth and the wild varieties of silk especially Eri Silk will be soft almost like cotton. Tussar and Muga filament silk will have a waxy kind of feel which is also a unique characteristic of silk fabrics.

And Finally The Burn Test

This is something that can be done at home but I doubt you would be able to perform this test before buying your silk. Let alone any store giving you the liberty to burn some of their silk. So, how do you proceed? Extract some fibers from the fabric edge (make sure you get to choose the corner and not be given by default) and light it with a flame. A suggestion would be to use a blue flame from a cigarette lighter and not a match as the smoke from the match would cover the actual result. The silk fibers will burn slowly with a faint glow almost invisible and curl into a ball when in contact with the flame and when removing the flame it will stop burning immediately. The smell of burning silk will be similar to the burning of human hair. This is because silk and human hair mainly consist of a fibrous protein; fibroin in the case of silk and keratin in the case of hair. The ash left after burning when rubbed between your fingers will feel like a granular powder. Synthetic fabric will burn with a smell like burning plastic and will drip and form a black ball of residue and not ash. It will continue to burn even after the flame is taken away and will produce black smoke.

The burn test can be done for filament silks like Mulberry, Tassar, and Muga with full positive results. However, Eri Silk which is made up of short fibers and spun into yarn, there is a loophole. Because Eri Silk needs to be spun to make yarn and it looks and feels like cotton there is a high possibility of blending the two. Let's look at a scenario where 30% of cotton is mixed in with Eri Silk and put through the burn test. The result of the burn test would be almost impossible to determine. Cotton being a plant fiber will burn like all plant matter. It will continue to burn when the flame is removed and produce white ash like wood. But blending it with Eri Silk the results will be masked. You are at the mercy of the trader to sell you a genuine Eri Silk fabric. As a buyer, there is no possible way to make sure the genuineness of an Eri Silk fabric. Or is there?

Silk Mark - The Mark of Purity

Well luckily for you and us at Muezart we got this riddle solved early. The Silk Mark is not just any authenticity certification but has served a deep long-term purpose. Silk Mark is promoted by the Silk Mark Organization of India (SMOI), which is an initiative of the Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles and the Government of India.

The Objectives of Silk Mark is to:  

  • Protect the interests of the consumer
  • Protect the interest of genuine traders and manufacturers of Silk
  • Promote Natural Silk

Silk Mark Organization of India has a rigorous certification program for manufacturers and traders of silk. After the preliminary application, a review is done to qualify the applicant for the second stage of membership. The second stage could be a surprise visit from the SMOI officials to the manufacturers premises which also includes conducting random tests from samples taken.

3 Tests the Silk Mark Organization of India Uses 

1. Burn Test

The first line of tests is the burn test mentioned earlier to determine silk purity.

2. Microscopic Test

Here, a cross-section of yarn is cut and observed under a high-resolution microscope to determine the makeup of fiber. The results are compared to actual cross-sections determining the purity. Silk fibers are solid and clearly compare to plant (which are hollow) or synthetic (which are round) fibers.

3. Chemical Test

With technology catching up so fast one cannot be too sure if someday the fibers can be similar to the real silk. But the last test can surely put those concerns away. The chemical test uses a boiling solution of 5% concentrated Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) solution to determine purity. Silk being a protein fiber would readily dissolve silk but would have a significant effect on non-protein fibers like Polyester, Nylon, Rayon, Cotton, etc. After all, formalities are completed the manufacturer or trader becomes an authorized user of Silk Mark Organization of India and is provided with Silk Mark tags. These tags are affixed only on pure silk products by the authorized users of Silk Mark. Each label has a hologram and a unique number printed on it, which helps the consumer trace the product back to the authorized user. This is a full proof mechanism to protect the consumer from fake products and is also a way to display the credibility of the manufacturer or trader.

Muezart is a Certified Authorized User of the Silk Mark

We are happy to announce that on 20th September 2019 after completing the required procedures, Muezart is now an authorized user of the Silk Mark. We will be using the silk mark tags on all our 100% Silk woven and knitted products.

Shop our range of pure Eri silk apparel, yarn, and fibers.


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