Sharon Stone adores it, so do Madonna and Kate Moss and Princess Di was another undisputed ardent fan.

What is it that the four celebrities have in common? They all share a passion for cashmere, that wonderfully soft, luxurious, timeless classic that makes you feel and look a million dollars.

But it could be that big names like actress Sharon Stone and pop icon, Madonna, will be the only ones who can afford to buy cashmere in future.

Cashmere, which has been getting more affordable over the past few years, is set to rocket in price again after the Chinese Government ordered the recent culling of around 300,000 cashmere goats to "prevent an ecological disaster".

Government officials say over-grazing by herds is reducing their once fertile land to a virtual desert.

Textile trade experts now fear this will create a shortage and companies may be forced to buy much higher priced white cashmere.

Cashmere has long been associated with a high price tag, but its warmth, soft touch, drapability, and incredible hardwearing qualities have outweighed the cost for many.

And over the past few years, a boom in the market and a much wider use by designers working for high street names has made it much more affordable.

Cashmere fans have been able to snap up a cashmere jumper from Marks & Spencer for some time and now supermarket chain, Tesco, is set to join the booming market later this year.

The company is launching a limited edition range of cashmere jumpers in November, priced at £45 for women and £50 for men.

Says Tesco: "It has to be the ultimate investment - a luxurious cashmere sweater that looks and feels superb."

But will cashmere fans be so lucky next year? Predictions are that they may well be paying 30 per cent more for cashmere next year, putting it out of reach of many people.

James Sugden, managing director of fine woollen manufacturers, Scottish firm, Johnstons of Elgin, fears this may well be the case.

He says cashmere is usually around ten times the price of wool, but at the moment, it is between 20 and 25 times the price.

He said: "This jump has taken place in the last year. The market is always volatile because there are limited quantities, but the price has increased due to a number of reasons.

"These include recovery in the Far East, fashion trends and the recovering European market. Consumption is at a peak at the moment.

"What will be in the shops next year may well cost 20 - 30 per cent more. Next year we may well see the top prices coming through, but cashmere will find its own level."

Scottish designer, Belinda Robertson, is the undisputed cashmere queen whose luxury cashmere knitwear is loved by everyone from movie stars to catwalk models.

Twice nominated a European Woman of Achievement, Belinda knows her market inside out and has become concerned about the rising price of raw material.

Belinda uses the highest quality cashmere from Mongolia. She says that the cost of raw materials has jumped up "significantly" in the past six months.

The company is trying to bear the higher prices without passing them on to customers.

She said: "We've tried to limit the impact by streamlining and making savings in areas such production techniques. Our price is staying static until next April."

By Deborah Bowyer