Pashmina is the Persian word "pashm" meaning made from the finest wool. Kashmir pashmina has been famous for centuries due to its quality and products like plain pashmina, woven jamawars, and embroidered pashmina.
The wool comes from changthangi or Pashmina goat, which is a special breed of goat indigenous to high altitudes (14,000 ft) of the Himalayas. Pashmina shawls are hand spun, woven and embroidered in Kashmir, and made from fine cashmere fibre.
The goat sheds its winter coat every spring. One goat sheds approximately 80-170g (3-6 ounces) of the fibre. The test for a quality pashmina is warmth and feel. Pashmina and Cashmere are derived from mountain goats. One distinct difference between Pashmina and Cashmere is the fiber diameter. Pashmina fibers are finer and thinner than cashmere fiber, therefore, it is ideal for making light weight apparel like fine scarves.
Today, however, the word PASHMINA has been used too liberally and many scarves made from natural or synthetic fiber are sold as Pashmina creating confusion in the market. The best test for real pashmina is if you notice the extra hairs and irregular weaving. You can pull out the excess hair and burn it to test if it smells like real hair.