Real vs. Fake Mulberry Silk: Tips to Identify Genuine Silk

Mulberry silk is one of the finest and most desirable types of silk in the world.

As I’m sure you know, genuine mulberry silk commands higher prices and is worth investing in for its unparalleled beauty and luxury.

However, mulberry silk is also commonly counterfeited – so as a smart consumer, you’ll want to know how to tell real mulberry silk from fake knockoffs.

In this article, I’ll give you my best tips from years of experience working with fine fabrics. 

With the help of clear photos and examples, you’ll learn practical techniques to recognize authentic mulberry silk using visual cues, touch tests, and even burn tests.

Let’s get started!

black mulberry silk fabric bundle

How to Visually Inspect Mulberry Silk

The easiest starting point for identifying real mulberry silk is to simply look closely and take note of its visual characteristics.

Lustrous Appearance

  • Genuine mulberry silk has a naturally glossy and lustrous look, almost like it’s glowing from within. The light reflects off the smooth surface, accentuating the rich colors.
  • Fake silk tends to look duller and less vibrant in comparison. The colors often look “flat” without dimension.
Real Mulberry SilkFake Silk
Radiant, glossy sheenDull-looking
Rich, dimensional colorsFlat or muddy colors

As you can see in the examples above, the authentic mulberry silk scarf on the left has a brighter, more lustrous sheen compared to the fake silk scarf on the right.

Notice how the real silk colors look deeper and more dimensional as well.

blue and white mulberry silk fabric

Smooth and Fine Texture

  • Genuine silk has a very smooth, uniform texture. Running your fingers lightly over real mulberry silk, you’ll notice the fabric feels finely woven with an almost satiny finish.
  • Fake silk tends to have a rougher, more uneven texture that feels more like paper or plastic. You can often see irregularities in the weave or slubs in the thread.

So when you’re shopping for mulberry silk items, take the time to gently run your hands over the fabric. The superior smoothness should be noticeable if it’s genuine silk.

beige mulberry silk fabric yardage

Check the Sheen from Both Sides

An easy way to spot a silk imposter is to turn the fabric over and look at the reverse side.

  • Real mulberry silk will have a beautiful, glossy sheen on both sides of the fabric.
  • Fake silk is typically shiny on only one side – the other side will look matte and dull by comparison.
Real Mulberry SilkFake Silk
Reverse SideAlso shinyDull

So remember to inspect both the front and back of the fabric when trying to ascertain authenticity.

Flipping it over takes only a second and can instantly reveal whether you’re looking at genuine silk or just a convincing imitation!

black mulberry silk texture

How Does Mulberry Silk Feel?

Now let’s move on to what may be my favorite method for evaluating silk: the touch test.

The sensation of running mulberry silk through your fingers is like no other fabric – it’s one of those mind-blowingly luxurious textures that has to be felt to be believed!

Here is how genuine silk compares to common silk fakes:

Smooth and Soft

  • Real mulberry silk has an exceptionally smooth, soft texture. Although the weave is delicate, the silk threads have a subtle strength and barely any friction as you glide your hand across.
  • Fake silk tends to feel rough and stiff in comparison. Rather than gently caressing your skin, the threads catch and cling uncomfortably.
manually unwrinkling silk fabric

Cool and Light

  • Genuine silk feels nicely cool and light against the skin. The moisture-wicking properties give it a gentle, breathable quality.
  • Cheap polyester pretenders tend to feel warm, heavy, and even sweaty in contrast.

Subtly Textured

  • While supremely soft, real mulberry silk retains a fine, uniform graininess from the natural fiber structure that sets it apart from synthetics.
  • The slicker textures of faux silk fabrics feel almost too perfectly smooth, with an unnaturally plastic-like quality.

As you can see, the entire experience of touching real mulberry silk is vastly different from common knockoffs.

Treat your fingertips to a taste of the good stuff next time you’re shopping – they’ll thank you!

blue mulberry silk textile

Test How Mulberry Silk Handles Wrinkles

Here is another simple yet effective test you can do while evaluating a silk garment or fabric: check how it handles wrinkling.

  • When you crumple or crush real mulberry silk into your hand, it will form wrinkles, but the moment you release your grip, the fabric will spring back into its original smooth shape.
  • Fake silk tends to retain wrinkles and creases more stubbornly in comparison. Rather than bouncing back, it will look permanently marred with a messy texture.

So don’t be shy about scrunching and contorting that silk scarf as you check for authenticity! Genuine mulberry silk is resilient and will emerge unscathed.

beige mulberry silk textile

Burn Testing for Definite Proof

Now for the hardcore method that leaves no doubt: burn testing.

I don’t recommend actually igniting your precious silk scarf of course! But keep a small fabric swatch on hand to burn, and you’ll have a reliable way to expose frauds.

When exposed to a flame, different fabric types behave in distinct ways. Here is what happens with real mulberry silk versus fake silk:

Real Silk

  • Curls away from the flame and burns slowly
  • Produces a light popping sound
  • Emits a faint burnt hair smell
  • Leaves a brittle, black ash residue

Fake Silk

  • Burns quickly with brighter orange flames
  • Continues burning after removing the flame
  • Melts into a gooey plastic blob
  • Smells like burning chemicals
  • Leaves a hard bead at the end

As you can observe, the burn characteristics of real protein-based silk fibers differ considerably from synthetic fakes which are essentially types of plastic.

So while I don’t recommend actually lighting your expensive Hermès scarf on fire, keep some small fabric clippings on hand to test!

green and white mulberry silk textile

Beware Bargain Basement “Silk” Prices

Another handy tip-off to avoid silk imposters is to simply keep price ranges in mind.

Due to the labor-intensive production process required to harvest and weave high-quality mulberry silk, authentic silk commands fairly high market prices.

Silk ItemGenuine Price Range
Silk scarf$80−400+
Silk dress$200−500+
Silk sheets$200−800+
Silk tie$50−150+

So when you see silk products advertised at crazy low bargain prices – be very suspicious! 

At those rates, the seller is almost certainly pawning off fake silk made of much cheaper polyester or other synthetic fibers.

Stick within normal silk price ranges, and it’s much more likely to be the real McCoy.

I researched how much mulberry silk costs and now I understand what affects its price.

blue and beige mulberry silk texture

Professional Authentication Options

If you want definitive proof of your silk’s authenticity, you can enlist professional services to perform specialized tests:

  • Burn testing – Silk testing labs can conduct tiny burn tests on fabric samples and examine the ashes under microscopes to verify if the combustion characteristics match real silk.
  • Chemical analysis – Technicians use chemical testing to identify dye compounds and fiber makeup, conclusively distinguishing natural silk from synthetic impersonators.
  • Weave analysis – Under high magnification, experts can analyze the thread size, pattern variations, and other intricacies of woven silk to authenticate it.

While sending your silk items off for professional testing isn’t always practical, it remains an option if you require airtight verification.

Many textile merchants and auction houses offer silk authentication services as well.

blue and beige mulberry silk fabric

Pure Silk vs. Artificial Silk

At this point, you might be wondering: what exactly is the difference between pure silk vs. artificial silk? Good question!

Pure silk refers to fabric made from natural silk fibers harvested directly from silk worms.

It undergoes minimal processing to yield the pristine, unadulterated luxury silk we all know and love.

Artificial silk consists of man-made fibers such as rayon or viscose that attempt to imitate the appearance and texture of natural silk.

However, artificial silks aren’t able to match the beauty or quality of genuine silk fiber.

To help clarify, here’s a quick comparison:

Pure SilkArtificial Silk
Fiber OriginSilkworm cocoonsPlant-based cellulose
TextureVery smoothLess smooth
SheenNatural high lusterArtificial-looking sheen
FeelCool and breathableWarm, plastic-like
DurabilityVery durableProne to pilling

As you can see, while artificial silk tries to simulate pure silk’s beauty, it doesn’t fully measure up. So beware of products labeled “artificial silk” – they are distinctly inferior to the real thing!

Figuring out ways to verify pure mulberry silk ensures I always get the best quality.

green and beige mulberry silk yardage

Distinguishing Silk from Polyester

Polyester is one of the most common materials used to produce cheap silk knockoffs. But thankfully, mulberry silk and polyester have vastly different looks and feels.

Here are some key traits to help differentiate real mulberry silk from polyester:

  • Appearance – Silk has a natural bright sheen, while polyester looks dull by comparison. Silk also drapes more fluidly.
  • Texture – Smooth and soft silk versus stiff and scratchy polyester.
  • Breathability – Light and breathable silk; hot, sweaty polyester.
  • Wrinkling – Silk wrinkles but springs back; polyester wrinkles remain.
  • Burn test – Silk curls away slowly; polyester melts immediately.

With so many noticeable differences between the fabrics, it’s actually pretty easy to discern real mulberry silk from its polyester imitators.

Trust your senses, and don’t settle for inferior knockoffs!

green and white mulberry silk weave

Shop for Silk with Confidence

I hope these detailed tips gave you a thorough education on identifying authentic mulberry silk.

Now that you know what to look and feel for, you can shop for luxurious silk garments and accessories without fear of being tricked by counterfeits.

Beware of prices that seem too good to be true, and rely on touch tests rather than claims on labels.

With smart shopping practices, you’ll be rewarded with the sensational beauty and enjoyment of wearing true, high-quality silk.

I welcome your comments and questions below as well! Let me know if you have any other tips for spotting fake silk. Happy silk hunting!

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