Next time you pull that favourite wool sweater over your head, consider this: depending on the type of wool used, that same sweater could cost $1800 to $3000 a yard to make. That’s how much the world’s most expensive wool costs. The wool comes from an animal called the vicuña, which is in the same animal family as the llama and the alpaca. Origins of South America, these animals are so desired that they are nearing the point of extinction. This is one reason why the wool is so expensive. Another reason for the huge expense is due to the animal’s skittish nature. They are extremely difficult to catch and to harvest the wool.
It may also be the most expensive due to its high quality nature and because it is so incredibly warm. The warmth is generated by tiny interlocking scales that trap heat in, protecting the wearer from the cold. Due to its sensitive nature, the colour of the wool is left in its natural state because it cannot deal with harsh chemicals.
The vicuña is now protected by government, and has been since 1974 when there were only approximately 6,000 vicuñas left. Today there are over 125,000 but regulations remain in place. One of these animals will produce one pound of wool per year and this can only be harvested every three years under law. Once the vicuña has been caught, they are sheared before being returned to the wild. Clothing that is made with this precious wool will come with a certificate stating that the vicuña was legally harvested