The Value of Fine Oriental Rugs

By Zaki Khalifa, Zaki Oriental Rugs

Many factors determine the quality of a hand-knotted oriental rug: the number of knots per square inch, the type of knot, the quality of the dyes, the standard of craftsmanship and the fiber used. Judging each factor requires knowledge and experience. For example, the fiber of hand-knotted rugs is most commonly wool, or silk, or a combination of the two. But for the past many years, there has been substantial production using look-alike artificial fibers whose inherent value is much less. Wool and silk also vary significantly in quality. Without experience evaluating such fibers, one easily misjudges.           

In a similar vein, it used to be thought that the country of origin was a reliable guide to quality; but in fact, the country itself is not a major determinant. Most important is the dedication of the makers themselves, along with the strength and longevity of the local practice of rug-weaving. In every rug-weaving region, if you look carefully, you can find at least some makers with strong dedication; but, with unfortunate frequency, you also find many whose standards are lamentable. In short, expertise in hand-knotted oriental rugs is hard to come by.

If you are considering the purchase of a handmade rug, your important first choice is where to look. If you lack years of experience, you are in the position of relying on the knowledge of someone else to ensure the quality of the rug you choose. Seek an oriental rug dealer with a long-standing good reputation. You might check the dealer’s standing with the local Better Business Bureau. Drop in and tell the dealer what you envision for your rug (not forgetting practical details like size!). As she or he shows you possibilities, ask, “Why would you recommend this one?”.

Also ask, “If I wanted something a little better, what would you offer, and what makes it better?” or “Can you show me something less expensive, and tell me why it is less?” If the answers are filled with superlative guarantees, with “amazing” percentage reductions and “astonishing” savings, you might take your search elsewhere.

But you will find that many dealers take pride in the merchandise they offer. They enjoy explaining the characteristics of each piece, and the trade-offs between price and quality. Such explanations can help you gain confidence that expert knowledge and experience went into the dealer’s selection of merchandise in the first place. Then you can consult your taste in the color and look of each rug without needless worry.