Is Your Oriental Rug Valuable – or Just Old?

If you're a fan of shabby chic, you probably enjoy an eclectic mix of distressed furniture, faded hues, and the feeling of a bygone era in your home. One of your favourite hobbies is locating genuine-article antiques to mix with modern decorative elements.

But how do you know you're finding a valuable piece instead of a cleverly disguised fake? This problem is especially prevalent when it comes to Persian or Oriental rugs.


No one wants to spend a lot of money on an antique rug only to find that it's not really old after all. The opposite is also true: you may find an old rug that looks great, only to discover that it's not valuable—it's just old.


So how can you tell the difference?


Get It Appraised
Why get your rug appraised? Here are a few reasons:


  • You'll protect yourself in the event of damage or catastrophic loss.
  • You may need an appraisal to determine fair market value (important for estate tax matters and other related concerns).
  • Your rug will be easier to sell (should you decide to do so).
  • You'll know the best way to maintain or restore your rug once you know its age and provenance.


Most importantly, you will feel peace of mind about your purchase. When someone asks you its value, you won't have to guess. You'll simply know.


It's true that good appraisers may be few and far between. But if you really need to know your rug's worth, it's important to find someone you trust.


Keep in mind that most reputable Oriental or Persian rug dealers have years of in-depth experience with rug appraisal. This is not to say that you should immediately trust the salesperson who tells you about your rug's provenance. Do a little investigating first.


Still, if a given establishment has a good record with the Better Business Bureau, that's a promising sign. Likewise, your appraiser should be able to tell you his or her professional background. Or, if you take an antiques dealer with you to appraise your rug, be sure he or she has ample experience with Oriental rugs.


Once you've secured the services of a reputable appraiser, he or she will identify your rug's country of origin. In some cases, a good appraiser can also determine the area or village of origin. The appraiser will also provide information on carpet density, knot style, pile texture, colour, and other details.


If you love the worn look but want to be certain your rug is really antique (versus artificially aged), your appraiser can find this out too. If you find an "antiqued" rug that's not really antique, that's fine if you love the look. Just make sure you don't pay exorbitant prices for something that's not truly old.


Learn What to Look For

Another way to assess your rug's true age – and value – is to educate yourself on a few essentials:


  1. Density of knots per inch
  2. Type of material
  3. Design
  4. Dyes and colouring blends
  5. Condition
  6. Availability


These six elements help you know the real worth of your rug. Yes, it takes some experience before you develop a knack for seeing the details; however, even a little research can pay off as you shop.


Look at the back – See if you can find one nodule (of one colour), then count the knots per inch. Once you get your final number, multiply it by 11. Try another area of the rug, and follow the same procedure. Then take another measurement somewhere else. Once you've multiplied each by 11, average your findings. Anything above 675 signifies a densely-knotted rug. Hence, it's more valuable.


Carry material samples with you – If you have a few silk or wool rug swatches with you, it's easier to compare those with whatever you see in the rug shop. Silk is most valuable, followed by Kurk and other types of wool. However, it takes a lot of experience to distinguish wool types. Just start wherever you are.


Pay attention to designs – Does your rug feature fine details like curving patterns over the larger background? If so, the rug may be valuable. Contrast this with a rug with simple or repeating patterns (obviously less detailed). The simpler the design, the less valuable the rug.


Inspect the colours – How many shades do you see? If you have a good eye for detail, you may find quite a few. Again, the more colours you see, the better the rug. If you see fewer colours, or colours that don't blend well, your rug is cheaper.


Look at overall condition – If it needs major repairs, it will be less valuable; however, if you like the look, that may mean you'll be able to purchase it for less.


Assess the demand – If you find a "sold" tag on the rug you love most, or you like a particular design but find that it's never available, these are signs of rarity. Your choice is likely more valuable by default.


Now that you understand a few of the elements that determine authenticity in a Persian or Oriental rug, you'll feel better about your choice, no matter what you decide! At Babayan’s we care for your Persian or Oriental rugs – we can effectively clean and repair your rugs so they look good as new. Located in Toronto, we provide free pick-up and delivery services to North York, Mississauga, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke, and surrounding areas.

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