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Oriental Rug Buying: Top 10 Tips

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With great historical value, powerful artistry, and excellent workmanship, oriental rugs pose as attractive additions to modern home design. If you decide to embark on a journey to find the most ideal rugs for your home, prepare yourself for a hefty amount of challenges. This daunting task would be significantly easier with some helpful oriental rug buying tips. 

Our team came up with the best tips to save you from the hassle and to make sure that you will get the most value out for your money. We hope that after reading this article you will understand more about oriental rugs, know how to examine rugs closely, and be able to confidently make a purchase.  .  

<br /> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">oriental rugs are a valuable investment and can a degree of sophistication and style to your home or office</span></em></p>
Oriental rugs are a valuable investment and can add a degree of sophistication and style to your home or office

The Best of Oriental Rug Buying Tips: Know What You Are Looking For

From the name itself, oriental rugs come from regions in the orient or eastern part of the world. Most of the countries that produce high-quality oriental rugs can be found in the Middle East, South Asia, or the Far East. These far-flung places such as Tibet, India, Iran, and Pakistan possess centuries of proud rug weaving history. As such, oriental rugs coming from these places are highly regarded as works of art for everyone to cherish. 

Authentic oriental rugs are mostly crafted by professional weavers, whether they are handwoven or hand-knotted. They are made of pure wool fibers and have a raised pile. The design of each piece varies and depends on the region or sub-region where it was made. 

In this post, we will also answer a series of frequently asked questions to help everyone conquer the challenge of buying a great oriental rug. 

Pictured above: A close-up of a hand-knotted Bokhara oriental rug made from 100% New Zealand Wool: A RugKnots specialty

10 Authentic Oriental Rug Buying Tips

People with more knowledge about oriental rugs have higher chances of making an informed purchase decision. By reading through various informative articles about authentic hand knotted oriental rugs, the more likely it is you will be confident about starting your quest to search for the most ideal rug for you and your space.

Here at RugKnots, we are happy to provide education about home decor, particularly with the involvement of an oriental rug. Feel free to browse our blog for other know-hows that would be of help. For now, these 10 tips in buying oriental rugs should provide enough guidance to get you started. 

#1 - Know What Makes An Oriental Rug Expensive

The first statement you need to understand and accept so you can avoid knock-offs:
Authentic handmade oriental rugs are expensive.

Most Expensive Rug Ever Sold

Pictured above: The world's most expensive rug ever sold is a Sotheby's 17th Century Antique Persian Carpet at $33 Million

There’s a very little chance you can stumble upon a genuine high-quality “oriental” rug made by expert artisans in a carpet store with a huge slash off its original price. And there are plenty of reasons why. This begs the question, “what increases the value of an oriental rug?”

There are five important elements that influence the cost of an authentic oriental rug: age, knot density, weave consistency, technique, and fiber used. Make sure that you’re aware of these variables before taking a rug home.

  • Age
Vintage rugs cost more than newly-made pieces. An heirloom rug made a century ago possess great historical and cultural value which do not exist within the mass-produced rugs of today. These rugs which may cost millions of dollars are rare and may only be found in high-end auctions.

The Oldest Rug In the World - Pazyryk Rug

Pictured above: The oldest rug in the world from Kazakhstan is estimated to be from the 5th century BC

  • Knot Density
Being a key indicator in rug quality, it is crucial for you as a rug buyer to understand knot density. This factor would reveal the durability and strength of a rug. Each type of rug has its own density rating. 
Pakistani rugs are evaluated with a ratio by knot count per square inch. The numerator indicates knots in horizontal inch while the denominator represents the knots lying on vertical inch. A 16/18 is known as the best quality while 12/12 is average quality. 
Chinese rugs are measured in warps by 10 centimeters of wefts. On the other hand, Indian rugs are assessed in terms of warps by wefts for every 10 cm. The rest are quantified in terms of knots per square inch. 
Very fine Persian rugs from Tabrizes have 400 knots, coarse rugs from Herizes have 50 knots while rugs hailing from Tibet ranges from 60 to 120 knots per square inch. 
To test knot density with bare hands, press your fingers down to the base of the pile. If it feels tightly packed, the rug has a high-knot density and extreme durability. 
  • Weave Consistency

Weave evenness is another element you need to closely examine along with knot density. The weave doesn’t need to be uniform, but it has to be consistent all throughout.

  • Technique

By definition, a hand knotted area rug is handmade. A dedicated, diligent artisan may have spent as long as a year working on just one rug. When it comes to larger versions of this type of rug, a team of artisans may have toiled on the creation for months. The personal dedication and commitment ensures that a hand knotted area rug is not only a work of art, but an item that is designed to stand the test of time.

  • Fiber
Rugs made of wool, especially if sourced from New Zealand, cost more than the others. In fact, most first-rate oriental rugs made today rely on New Zealand wool to create quality rugs.
Silk rugs are also expensive. But compared to oriental wool rugs, they require special cleaning due to their frailty and sensitivity.
On the other hand, the term rayon may be used by some merchants to mask some mediocre components of a rug such as: artificial silk and faux soie. Avoid rugs with this tag if you’re looking for authentic silk rugs.

Here’s a short video on how to identify a silk rug:


#2 - Eliminate Potential Ripoffs

Make the task of shopping for rugs a lot easier by crossing out some potential ripoffs from your list.

  • Out Of Business Sales
Many companies make great money by going out of business. Merchants who do this would advertise their rugs as authentic with a huge markdown. These clearance sales often actually sell fake rugs with a great discount that masks huge markups.
As we advise our readers in almost every article, buying oriental rugs for your household is quite a big investment. Even if it’s just for a small amount, it’s still some of your hard-earned money going down the drain. You also wouldn’t want to line the pockets of those who intend to scam their customers.
  • Online Auctions Prone To Shill Bidders
If you want to try your luck in eBay auctions and other online bidding sites, you might be intrigued by a number of antique items. The piece which the seller describes as authentic and vintage may seem legit as you saw many people vying for it through their bid amounts.
The price may not be as high as an authentic rug, but to the perspective of a buyer, it must be one of their life’s golden finds. After becoming convinced, the poor soul will join the bid with hopes to win the item only to receive a bogus product or nothing at all!
And this scheme wouldn’t work without the help of shill bidders. These bidders work for the seller with the task to bid in order to add hype and achieve a target price for the said item. With shill bidders plaguing an auction item, a $50 low quality rug can be sold for $1000!
So before you bid on oriental rugs, make sure that the house implements different layers of security to keep the bidding safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Watch this video for more info about shill bidding:

  • Fake Antiques
Some rugs undergo chemical washes to make them look aged and more expensive. However, this would make the rug brittle and of no value upon a meticulous assessment by an experienced appraiser.
Antique washed rugs show an obvious color change from the back to its front. Examine the fibers closely and look for a strong color at the middle. If you see a strong shade somewhere, it’s a strong indication that a rug has been antique washed.
  • Rush Deals
Never succumb to the words of an aggressive salesman. More importantly, never buy out of hurry from flash deals and other promos that rely on impulse buying. While every business make use of these marketing stunts, expect that some stores which are home to cheap knockoffs will exploit this strategy.

#3 - Keep On Shopping Around

Finding the perfect rug for your household could be a long and tedious task. Otherwise, you can end up settling for less when the most ideal rug is yet to be found. 

Before you go shopping for rugs, make sure that you already know what you want and need. If possible, measure the space you intend to place the rug in and keep the dimensions in the back of your mind while shopping.  

It also helps to keep in mind the color of your furniture to ensure your rug’s background and border color match the overall décor of the room. For more information on choosing the best color rug for your space, check out our article on the topic. 

As you go along, specific rugs that caught your attention would become apparent. Keep pictures of them if possible and note where you found these favorites. 

When shopping, you might find some expensive items which appear to be the same as others that don’t have the same price tags. If you are not sure why its cost is more than what it appears to be, ask the sales associates! 

Red Baluchi Rug

Finding the ideal oriental rug for your space can be a long and tedious task. At RugKnots, we are here to help you make an informed and valuable purchase. Featured above: a 5' x 7' hand knotted oriental rug from our Baluchi collection.

#4 - Learn The Oriental Rug Industry Lingo

While shopping at stores and online, you may hear some terms only familiar to those who have been acquainted with the oriental rug industry. Having knowledge about the industry vernacular could help you understand a salesman’s explanation and some descriptions listed on the rug’s tag if there would be any. 

One of the most common terms used is the word “field” which pertains to the main background of the rug. Some rugs have a diamond or round motif at the center and these are called central medallions. 

Below are other oriental carpet rug lingo you should get accustomed to before you start the search for your ideal rug. 

  • All-over design 

This carpet rug motif will work best if you plan to asymmetrically place your furniture on the rug. 

  • Aniline dyes 

When you heard from the sales agent or seen from the label that the rug had aniline dyes, it only means that the manufacturer used synthetic coloring. 

  • Antique wash 

The method of antique washing aims to bring out an antique look through chemical washing. This scheme is employed by those who claim to be selling vintage rugs. Find out if the rug has undergone antique washing by looking for strong bold colors left in the fibers. 

  • Art silk 

Rugs made of art silk may look good but it’s not actually as fancy as it sounds. Art silk is short for artificial silk which is definitely not a material used to create an authentic oriental rug. 

  • Boteh 

A stylized motif in the form of a pine cone, palmetto, Cypress tree or flame of Zoroaster. 

  • Brocade 

Design and embellishments characterized in the form of weft flatweave. They are often seen in kilim bands found at the ends of oriental rugs. 

  • Dhurrie 

A flat woven rug from India. 

  • Fringe 

The excess warp threads used to style the ends of oriental rugs, curtains and sometimes, dresses. 

  • Guard Stripes 

These are thin bands that surround and emphasize the primary border. 

  • Handle 

Measures the stiffness and weight of the rug’s flexibility. It ranges from soft, flexible to stiff. 

  • Motifs 

Single or a series of design elements found in a rug. 

  • Reciprocal design 

A motif wearing contrasting colors but the same pattern all throughout the rug. 

A long and narrow rug used in staircases and hallways. Usually around three feet wide. 

  • Tapestry 

A hand-woven wall hanging characterized by complex designs. 

  • Warp 

The vertical threads of yarn extending through the entire span of the rug. This is where the weaver ties the knots. 

  • Weft 
The horizontal threads of yarn running through the entire extent of the rug. 
  • Zaronim 
A rug with measurement of 3’x5’. 

#5 - Fall In Love With the Oriental Rug

Look for the artistic appeal and see if it matches your aesthetic. 

Don’t buy an oriental rug just because you feel the need to. Remember that time constraints, budgetary issues, and uncertainties may lead to a bad purchase. Fall in love with the rug and make sure that it’s something you would want for long term. 

Does the rug wear colors you like? Do you think it would complement the furniture, wall features, and other elements of your household? Is it a piece that describes you and tells a story you can relate too? 

As authentic oriental rugs make great investments and will serve the household for a long time, it is important to fall in love with a rug even before you decide to bring it home. 

#6 - Choose The Best Source Possible

Considering the cost of an oriental rug, you would surely want nothing but the best. Beware of small rug caravans that may popup in your area. They might claim that they are selling rare antique rugs and disappear after a few days of collecting money from unsuspecting consumers. 

As much as possible, only complete transactions with trusted business who have been in the rug market for many years. Ask your friends and relatives for a legitimate rug centers near their area. Your neighbors might give you great suggestions too! 

A good antique rug store would be willing explain everything in detail. They should be able to cite differences between one rug type to another. Apart from helping you find the most ideal rug for your place, they will also give you tips on proper cleaning of the rug. They will also refer you to a trustworthy cleaning professional to take care of its maintenance. 

Also, consider shopping for rugs online sold by trusted vendors that have been in the rug business for decades (like RugKnots or similar online vendors). If you have any questions about a rug, would like to have a picture of the rug Photoshoped into your space to see how it would look, or want higher definition photos of a rug, you can always contact the company and a member from customer service team can address any questions, concerns, or requests.

#7 - Test The Rug At Home

A good rug center will allow you to take the rug home for testing. Take this opportunity to capture the vibe after you temporarily install it on a chosen room. If you feel like it’s out of place after a few changes on the positions of the furniture and other items in the room, go back to the rug center and search for a new rug design. 

Observe the appearance of the rug and of the whole room to see how it would fare at day or night. Keep the rug for two days at most. 

To prevent coming back and forth, bring an image of your living room or any place where you desire to place the rug. The experts at the store would be more than happy to give a few interior design suggestions for free. Consider their advice but the final decision is ultimately yours. 

While the borrowed rug is in your possession, take utmost care to avoid paying for damages. Keep the children and pets away as they could mess up with a carpet you haven’t bought yet. Quickly pack it up and return it to the store if you realize you want something else. 

If possible, try out your desired rug in the space you intend to place it in to determine how well it fits with the furniture and overall decor of the room.

#8 - Understand The Antique Rug Investment

Pakistani rugs, Persian rugs and other pieces coming from the orient increases in value as they age.

When an oriental rug reaches its 100th year, appraisers will consider it as rare with the possibility of becoming an important collector’s piece. 

Antique Persian rugs may draw serious attention from people conversant with the rug business. Therefore, if you bought or inherited a piece, ensure proper maintenance for it to retain or enhance its investment value. 

We listed below some factors that reduces the value of antique oriental rugs: 

  • Patches and repairs 

A rug expert hired by a potential buyer will look for signs of repairs and misuse. While damage may have an impact to the cost, a nicely done repair to save the rug would be acceptable. 

  • The rug has many possible copies 

It is important to have the rug checked by a professional before investing on it. The rug expert will inspect the rug for a variety of indicators that tells the history of the rug and reveal whether it’s a bad investment or not. 

  • Missing borders 

Any missing elements from the rug is a big slash off its value. 

  • Permanent stains 

You’ll definitely regret drinking red wine near a white rug. This and other kinds of unremoved stains greatly reduce the worth of your antique rug. 

#9 - Only Work With The Experts

By the time you reached this section of the article, you must have realized the significance of buying from a trusted source. Only entrust a good amount of investment to a legitimate institution and only ask for the opinion of a professional rug expert. 

Knowing that you can count on a group of people from a carpet showroom will lessen your stress and worries. These individuals understand how formidable it is to choose a rug and make a final decision. They will be more than willing to address all your questions and uncertainties. 
Rugknots takes the time to find the perfect rug for your home, office, or store. We provide expert recommendations after careful considerations of different factors such as budget and home design needs. Make the decision-making process a lot easier by speaking to one of our oriental rug experts. Contact us!

RugKnots sells the highest quality handmade oriental and modern style rugs at affordable prices. Check out our vast collections of genuine handmade rugs today!

#10 - Continue Learning More About Oriental Rugs

Education goes a long way even when you’re buying an antique piece or investing on contemporary oriental rugs. It is also important to keep yourself updated about rugs for future use and if in case you decide to sell your rug.

View our blog "Rug Anatomy 101" to learn more about the fascinating world of oriental rugs

Handmade Kazak Rug for Sale! 50% for a limited time only

Frequently Asked Questions On Buying Oriental Rugs

We keep on receiving a great number of questions from curious customers through our comments section and email inbox. Please continue to send us your feedback and we’ll try our best to answer everything through an informative FAQ section in a relevant article. Buying oriental rugs appears as a tricky task especially for first-time rug buyers. If you’re one of them, it’s a great decision to visit our website for knowledge about rugs before making a purchase. 

The best thing you can do as a consumer is to remain within the safety line by not making a rash decision and educating yourself further about oriental rugs. 

Begin the process by reading through a list of questions and qualms asked by consumers who seek guidance in buying oriental rugs. 

How much should an Oriental rug cost?

The cost of an oriental rug relies on a number of factors as stated earlier in this article. To give you an estimate, an oriental rug measuring 6’x9’ could fetch anywhere between $1000 and $5000.

This price may be a shock to first time buyers, but if you want an authentic rug piece that you can pass down to your next of kin, prepare yourself for some good disbursement.

How many knots per square inch is a good rug?

A good Pakistani rug has a knot density of 16/18, where in the numerator signifies the number of knots per square inch in horizontal line while the denominator represents knots per square inch in a vertical line. A knot density score of 12/12 is an average quality Pakistani rug.

Generally, knot density is referred to as kpsi (per inch) or kpsc. The density starts from 25 kpsi and could reach up to more than 1000 kpsi.

Low quality rugs hold a knot density of less than 80kpsi. Those pieces with 120 to 330 kpsi are rated medium to good while rugs with more than 330 kpsi considered to be of very good quality.

What rug has the highest knot density?

During the carpet design revolution in the late 15th century, a number of fine quality rugs were produced boasting three times of knot densities compared to common values of that era. Some of the notable carpets with high kpsi includes:

The rug with the highest recorded rug knot density so far is a silk Hereke masterpiece by Özipeks workshops. It has a knot density of approximately 10,000 with estimate production time of over 15 years.

Are Persian rugs a good investment?

Definitely. Persian rugs are the apple of the eye of many serious rug collectors in the world. Persian rug pieces over 100 years are known as rare collector’s items and would definitely value to many times higher compared to its original price.

Which country makes the best oriental rugs?

No country has been established as the best rug producer in the world. Due to their cultural practices, unique design and traditional techniques inherited from ancient professional weavers, each region produces incomparable high quality rugs. While this is the case, countries where you can find the finest oriental rugs include:

  • Pakistan
  • India
  • Tibet
  • Turkey
  • Iran 
  • Afghanistan

Where is the best place to buy oriental rugs?

A successful purchase highly depends on where you’ll purchase the rug. Therefore, it really makes sense for wise buyers to only buy from the best. 

Highly reputable furniture shops sell authentic oriental rugs. They may have a dedicated section for carpet rugs and a rug expert who can assist you through carefully picking of the most suitable rug. A good rug store will also let you take the rug home so you can get a feel of it. 

If you have time to travel to South Asia, make sure to visit carpet centers in Pakistan or India. In China, there are traditional carpet rugs stores as well but be careful as they have many stores that sell machine-made rugs to mimic the authentic ones. As for online auctions, only join bidding's of highly reputable websites. They have added security measures to keep their program safe for everyone. Avoid marketplaces plagued with shill bidders and fake item sellers. 

Rugknots is one of the best places to buy oriental rugs online. We offer end to end assistance and excellent recommendations so you can enjoy the best rug for your home. With us, you can be assured that every item you buy is authentic and that every transaction you make with us is safe and guaranteed. 

Where to buy cheap oriental rugs?

Walmart or Home Depot are good places to search for oriental style cheap rugs. However, most of these rugs are made of polypropylene and other synthetic materials. The technique used is also far from hand-knotted oriental rugs. 

These cheap rugs may appear good-looking but they cannot be considered as authentic due to the material and woven technique used. Moreover, listings for these cheap authentic rugs do not include some important details such as knot density.  On average, the lifespan of these rugs very short compared to oriental handmade rugs which last for generations. 

Should I buy used oriental rugs?

If you’re asking the same question, you could be talking about buying vintage oriental rugs for collection purposes. Rug collectors keep these old oriental rugs in exclusive rooms while others, in their luxurious living area or bedroom with low foot traffic. In this case, you need to remember a few things first before purchasing a vintage rug.

Set realistic expectations

Searching that exact rug you found in a magazine, celebrity house raid shows or Pinterest may be far from reality. Fancy oriental rugs, especially one that cost more than $2000 is probably alone in the world. Moreover, closing your heart to other styles, shapes and colors would narrow your opportunity to explore other interior design options.
The world of vintage oriental rug is unpredictable so always be prepared for a ton of possibilities and let the tides bring you a design idea that’s totally different from what you expect. Who knows? It could be better than what you’ve seen so far!

Be watchful

You’d only want to deal with a trusted store or brand. Whether you’re buying online or through a dealer, look for good reviews and recommendations. Use the above list in this article and ask everything you need to know. Do your due diligence and differentiate shops through their pricing and offers.
When participating in online auctions, keep a huge list of prospect carpet rugs. Do not bet until the very last minute otherwise, you’ll only increase the final price.

Make sure it’s really vintage by checking of proper patina

There’s no such thing as a perfect vintage rug. With years of usage, these rugs will be worn out in a certain way. The thing you need to look for is how these inconsistencies were balanced. A good example would be a rug that’s faded in a uniform manner.
Some sellers would try to trick unaware customers by antique washing. This method forcibly wears out the color of the rug to add a vintage appeal. Compared to stone washing, putting through a rug through antique washing makes the fiber weaker. Also, the rug will have uneven colors as it leaves a bold pigment at the middle.

Holes are okay, patches are not

Don’t reject small holes as they can be normal for some vintage rugs. Patches can be hiding worse so it’s important to check its history. More importantly, do not go home with a rug that’s already been repaired.


Quality materials are important

An oriental carpet rug won’t get past 50 years and still look beautiful if not made by high-quality wool. If you’re aiming to buy a combination of hand woven wool and silk, they do have a certain luster if not compromised with artificial ingredients.
To determine if the silk is genuine, pull a single strand and burn it. If you can smell burnt hair and shrivels, then you’ve hit the bull’s eye.

Avoid loose ends

It’s hard to save a vintage rug if the edges are damaged. Once it starts to unravel, that beautiful border will quickly turn into a messy spool of thread. Examine the rug for loose ends and avoid bringing it home as it would cost you a lot of money for repair.

What to do with old oriental rugs?

Antique rugs are beautiful and valuable investments. Sadly, they get old, gradually lose color and slowly unravel. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do with old oriental rugs instead of just throwing them away. 

When the antique rug shows signs of holes and loose ends, consider doing any of the following: 

 

Hang antique rugs on the wall 

Retire the old rugs from foot traffic and consider hanging them on the wall instead. For small oriental rugs, you may put them inside a fancy frame and use it as the main attraction for a feature wall. This decor is ideal for the longest or the tallest wall in the household. The overall design will not only impress guest but it could soon be a highly priced family heirloom your next of kin would love to inherit. 

  Thin area rugs for table covers 

Cut the area rugs to desired shape and add them to your tables to accentuate other details. Interior design experts recommend placing rugs under lamps and vases. 

  Sell your oriental rugs 

If your authentic oriental rug is still in good and acceptable condition, consider selling it for a hefty price. Consult a rug appraiser to identify the value of your antique rug. They may offer to buy it or you may choose to sell it through an auction. Be advised RugKnots does not appraise the value of used oriental rugs sold by other vendors. RugKnots only sells the the highest quality handmade oriental and modern style rugs that are newly hand-knotted from expert artisans. 

Oriental Rug Buying Tips: Stay Safe And Secured

Those who fell in love with the alluring oriental rugs spend months and thousands of dollars to get the ideal match for their home. If you decide to add coziness and a sense of to your home with the help of these precious decor items, equip yourself with knowledge to shield yourself from potential ripoffs and too much stress.

Scraping the world for that most ideal rug is an intimidating and tiresome task. There may be times when it becomes a mind-numbing duty especially if you’ve already spent weeks of searching, but you still couldn’t find a rug you like.

With all the above information, we hope that you understand the challenges you need to go through and why it’s imperative to take precautionary measures. It’s also a pleasure for us if buying an oriental rug feels much easier for you upon reading this article.

If you’re a first-time oriental rug buyer, did we answer all the questions you have in mind? We highly recommend to consult a rug expert for all the technicalities. These tips should be a good foundation to support you throughout this rug-searching journey. For any feedback, feel free to share it with us down in the comments section.

To those who are already familiar with this business, any oriental rug buying tips you can add for our green horn buyers? Your replies to their comments and expert guidelines will be greatly appreciated!

Check our blog for more information about authentic oriental rugs.

RugKnots is a family owned rug company based in Hagerstown, Maryland. We specialize in selling handmade high quality rugs at affordable prices to everyday customers online and from our warehouse in Maryland.


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