1. Condition is Everything: Well, in 98% of cases condition is everything. Pet stains, moth damage, uneven wear, color run… All going to severely affect the value of your rug. On the plus side, there are ways to prevent the majority of the above. Always be wary of reduced rugs missing minor borders, side borders or severely off-center medallions. Even for new rugs, check for even weaving (or signs of uneven), shearing and symmetrical shape.
2. Don’t get tied up in knots! Relatively speaking, Knots Per Square Inch (KPSI) means little in the scope of purchasing a rug. Sure, it may aid in attribution, perhaps differentiate it from other rugs of that type or genre. In the majority of cases, knot count should not bear any more weight in deciding whether a rug is “a worthy buy.” It’s the rug you’re going to live with, not the knots!
3. Country of Origin: Province or City Does not dictate Quality. Exceptional rugs come from many weaving countries. Excellent goods are being imported from India, Pakistan, Iran, Armenia, Turkey and many other weaving areas. Additionally, just because two rugs have the same name does not indicate they are of equal quality.
4. Is Relevant Information Readily Furnished? Perhaps an elaboration on the above. However, if a seller does not readily display the item’s country of origin, beware. Proper ID of a rug should be as follows in this example: A Chinese Rug with a Persian design should be called an “Chinese Rug with Persian Design”, or “Chinese Interpretation of a Persian Design.” It is not uncommon to find some sellers simply state “Persian Rug”!!! Although not integral, it’s important to know truncation of a country in addition to a vowel may indicate Country of Origin: Indo (Indian), Paki (Pakistani), etc. Check out Standards for Sellers.
5. Quality of wool and dyes: If a new rug has coarse & dry wool at a very high price point, be wary. Determining quality of dyes is not simple, and years may be the only real determining factor. However, there are ways to test! If you suspect dyes may be inferior due to over-saturation of color, grab a worn out but fine cotton/linen handkerchief you don’t care about. Moisten with cold to lukewarm water and wipe with firm pressure on colors throughout the face/pile of the rug going with the direction of the pile. If a significant amount of colors pull from tested areas, this may be an indicator of potential color migration after a future wash or spot cleaning. Either negotiate a fair price accordingly or keep looking.
When and where possible, take the opportunity to see a rug in person. There are many, many well-trusted and established rug sellers in the states. Purchasing at a well-known importer or retailer showroom does not necessarily mean you will pay more than online! If you ever have questions, we are here to help.
Thanks, Rug Rag for this very informative post on oriental rugs!