Mulberry Silk Grades: How to Identify High-Quality Silk

Hi friends! As a longtime lover of mulberry silk, I’ve learned a thing or two about identifying high-quality silk over the years.

Mulberry silk grades can be confusing, but having a good understanding of the different levels of silk quality is so important when making purchases.

In this article, I’ll give you an overview of mulberry silk grades, tips for spotting top-notch silk, and advice for avoiding silk scams. Let’s dive in!

white mulberry silk bolt

What Are Mulberry Silk Grades?

Mulberry silk grades are a system for classifying the quality of mulberry silk fiber. The grades are determined by certain characteristics like:

  • Fiber length – Longer fibers can be spun into finer threads
  • Color and sheen – Whiter silk with a brighter sheen is higher quality
  • Cleanliness – Fewer impurities means better grade silk
  • Texture – Uniform and smooth fiber texture improves grade

Silk manufacturers and government agencies grade mulberry silk and assign it a letter from A (highest quality) to C (lowest quality).

The highest silk grades command higher prices because of their exceptional features.

Now let’s explore those grades and silk quality levels…

blue and white mulberry silk fabric piece

Different Levels of Mulberry Silk

Grade A Mulberry Silk

This is the creme de la creme of mulberry silks! Grade A silk has:

  • Very long, fine fibers – Allows for an extremely smooth, soft texture
  • Bright, clear white color
  • Intense, shiny sheen
  • No coarse or yellow fibers – Very uniform quality

Grade A mulberry silk is perfect for delicate fabrics like charmeuse or intricate designs that need top-notch threads. Its long fibers and fine texture drape beautifully.

From luxurious evening gowns to decadent bedsheets, Grade A silk brings elegance and quality craftsmanship to high-end textiles.

Examples: 19-25 momme silk charmeuse, 22 momme silk

blue and beige mulberry silk material

Grade B Mulberry Silk

Grade B silk is still high quality, but has minor imperfections that drop it down from the top tier. Characteristics of Grade B silk include:

  • Slightly shorter fibers than Grade A
  • Duller white color and sheen
  • Occasional coarse or yellow fibers mixed in
  • Slightly uneven texture

While not completely flawless, Grade B silk still makes lovely fabrics. It’s a smart choice for more casual or everyday items where the tiny issues won’t impact wear or appearance. 

Blouses, scarves, ties, and bedding are common Grade B silk products.

Examples: 16 momme silk habotai, 20 momme silk crepe de chine

black mulberry silk shirt

Grade C Mulberry Silk

On the low end of the silk quality spectrum is Grade C. It has noticeable imperfections like:

  • Short, uneven fiber lengths
  • Yellowish tone lacking sheen
  • Frequent nubs, slubs and coarse fibers
  • Poor texture

Grade C mulberry silk is best suited for heavyweight or textured fabrics that can hide the flaws. It also works well blended with other fibers like cotton or wool.

But buyer beware – some manufacturers falsely label low-grade silk as higher quality!

Examples: 12 momme tussah silk, 14 momme silk shantung

black mulberry silk weave

Identifying High-Quality Mulberry Silk

Now that you know the major mulberry silk grades, here are my top tips for spotting high-quality silk:

  • Check the thread count – Fabric woven from Grade A silk will have a higher thread count. Anything 200-400 TC likely uses top-tier silk.
  • Rub it between your fingers – Grade A silk feels incredibly smooth and soft. Lower grades may feel uneven or rough.
  • Stretch it out – High-quality silk stretches slightly then bounces back. Low-grade silk loses its shape.
  • Hold it up to light – Grade A silk appears translucent. Lower grades seem more opaque.
  • Listen when you crinkle it – Grade A silk makes a crisp sound. Lower grades sound dull.

I’ve created a handy comparison chart of high-grade (Grade A) vs low-grade (Grade C) mulberry silk:

CharacteristicHigh-Grade SilkLow-Grade Silk
Thread Count200-400 TC<150 TC
FeelVery smoothRough/uneven
StretchSprings backLimp, loses shape
Light TestTranslucentOpaque

Using those tests and clues will help you identify if a silk product boasts Grade A mulberry silk or inferior low-grade silk.

I learned how to identify pure mulberry silk and it has been very helpful.

beige mulberry silk piece

Is Mulberry Silk the Same as 100% Silk?

This is a great question! The term “100% silk” simply means the fabric or item is made completely from silk fibers without any synthetic blends.

But it gives no indication of which type of silk or the quality grade.

Mulberry silk is a specific variety of silk made from silkworms fed a diet of mulberry leaves. It’s exceptionally fine, smooth and uniform – making it the highest quality type of silk.

So quality mulberry silk will always be 100% silk. But not all products labeled 100% silk use the top-tier mulberry variety or A-grade quality level.

Some exploit the “100% silk” labeling to charge more while actually using lower quality silk!

That’s why you need to apply those silk tests I mentioned regardless of the “100%” claim. And check for specific confirmation it’s mulberry silk, not just generic silk.

If you’re concerned about ethical considerations of mulberry silk, my findings might interest you.

black mulberry silk fabric sample

Disadvantages of Mulberry Silk

As fabulous as mulberry silk is, no textile is perfect. Here are a few potential drawbacks:

  • Delicate – Higher quality silk is delicate and needs gentle care.
  • Water spots – Silk stains easily and water can leave permanent marks.
  • Not very warm – Silk fabric isn’t well-suited for cold weather wear.
  • Price – It’s more expensive than other natural fabrics like cotton or linen.
  • Environmental impact – Sericulture (silk production) emits carbon dioxide and uses substantial water.

For comparison, other types of silk or fabric may be:

  • More durable – Like medium-grade tussah silk
  • Less staining – Like polyester or synthetic blends
  • Warmer – Like wool or cashmere
  • Cheaper – Like cotton, hemp, rayon or polyester
  • More eco-friendly – Like organic cotton, hemp or linen

So while mulberry silk reigns supreme in luxury fabrics, it’s certainly not ideal for all needs.

beige mulberry silk weave

How to Verify Authentic Mulberry Silk

Sadly, mulberry silk scams abound both online and from unscrupulous retailers. Fake or falsely marketed silk is frustratingly common! Here are tips to avoid getting duped:

  • Check certifications – Look for Oeko-Tex or GOTS labels indicating quality processing and materials.
  • Examine pricing – Extremely cheap silk likely isn’t Grade A quality. But higher price alone doesn’t guarantee authenticity either.
  • Review fiber content – Confirm it’s specifically mulberry silk, not just “silk.” Ask sellers for details.
  • Order samples first – If buying silk fabric online, request a hand sample to personally examine before purchasing yards of potentially fake silk!
  • Learn common scams – Mislabeling silk grades is rampant. So is selling polyester or inferior silk while capitalizing on the mulberry silk name. Stay vigilant!

I hope those tips will help you confidently identify fabulous high-quality mulberry silk and steer clear of scammers. Always trust your senses – your eyes, fingers and common sense!

green and white mulberry silk material

What’s the difference between silk grades and silk momme weight?

Great question! The momme weight refers to the density and thickness of silk fabric. It’s measured by the weight in pounds of a piece of silk that’s 45 inches by 100 yards.

The higher the momme weight (like 22 momme), the more dense and durable the fabric.

Mulberry silk grades (A, B, C) on the other hand classify the quality of the silk fibers themselves before becoming fabric.

So two silk fabrics could have the same momme weight, but be made from different grade fibers resulting in different texture, sheen and durability.

You need to check both grade AND momme to determine overall quality!

Can I mix different mulberry silk grades when sewing a garment?

In general, I’d avoid combining different silk grades in one garment. The texture and sheen may end up looking mismatched where the fabrics join since the quality of the fibers varies.

However, you might mix a Grade A silk charmeuse with Grade B silk lining or trim and likely won’t notice much difference. Just don’t use Grade C silk on parts of the garment that show! 

Stick to uniform Grade A for pieces that need drape, softness and shine. Use other grades strategically for hidden linings or backings to save cost.

blue mulberry silk texture

What’s the price range I can expect for different mulberry silk grades?

As you’d expect, the price goes up with higher silk grades! Here’s a rough breakdown:

  • Grade A silk fabric: $80+ per yard
  • Grade B silk fabric: $45-80 per yard
  • Grade C silk fabric: Under $45 per yard

And finished products pricing:

  • Grade A silk clothing or sheets: $250+
  • Grade B items: $100−250
  • Grade C goods: Under $100

Of course prices vary hugely based on factors like dyeing, design complexity, brand names etc. But you can use those ranges as a baseline for assessing fair pricing.

High-quality production processes command legitimately higher prices, but beware major markups just trying to capitalize on “silk” as a buzzword!

black mulberry silk material

The Takeaway

We’ve covered quite a bit of ground on understanding mulberry silk grades and quality indicators. The key takeaways are:

  • Grades – Mulberry silk is graded A, B or C. Grade A is the highest quality while Grade C has noticeable flaws.
  • Characteristics – Fiber length, color, sheen, cleanliness and texture determine the silk grade.
  • Testing – Use visual and tactile testing techniques to distinguish high-grade from inferior silk.
  • Verification – Check certifications, pricing, content details and fabric samples to confirm authentic mulberry silk.

I hope you’ve found this breakdown helpful! My goal is to make sure you can identify amazing quality mulberry silk and avoid being duped by subpar silk.

Now you have the knowledge and skills to browse, shop and purchase mulberry silk items confidently.

As you search for your next elegant silk blouse, luxurious bedsheets or colorful silk scarf, remember these tips.

Share them with other silk enthusiasts too! Together we can become smarter consumers and revel in the glory of top-tier mulberry silk.

Happy silk hunting, my friends!

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