FAQ Part 3: How to be confident in your choice of carpet

This is Part 3 in a series. (See Part 1 and Part 2 here.) We welcome your comments and questions.

Hand-knotted carpets, also known as “oriental” carpets due to their origins in Asia, are available in a multitude of designs, colors, and styles. An oriental rug is often the single most expensive home furnishing item that many people buy.

Choosing a carpet can be an intimidating process, but it can be made manageable and enjoyable by knowing a bit about carpets, their construction, and their history. Ask all the questions you need to in order to become comfortable with your purchasing decision. Ultimately, the most important question to ask in buying an oriental carpet is, “Do I love it?”

Many people assume that a rug’s quality is determined by the number of knots per inch. While this information may be significant, it is not the only, or even the most important, determinant of quality or value. The price of an oriental carpet is influenced by several factors. Retail prices of an 8×10 carpet can range from $2000 up to $20,000 or more, but there are explanations for the cost differences. These factors include design, pile content, knot count, dyestuffs used, and labor costs in the country of origin. Silk is more expensive than wool; more knots per inch means more hours of labor; natural dyes are more expensive than synthetic ones, and labor is more expensive in Turkey than in Nepal.

In my previous post, “Why do hand-knotted rugs cost so much?”, I address the issue of child labor. Many of the inexpensive oriental rugs available in the US market have been made with illegal child labor. The GoodWeave label is your best assurance that a carpet was not made with illegal child labor.

You need to be sure that the factors involved in the pricing are those that are important to you. A room-sized naturally-dyed Bijar rug made in Persia (Iran) can cost well into five figures; a similar design made in India with metal-complex dyes may be less than half that amount. If the knot count and pile height of the two carpets are equivalent, the rugs will be equally durable. Some people prefer the ethnographic authenticity offered by the Bijar, or the cachet that comes with a “genuine” Persian rug, others just want durability and style, and don’t care where the carpet is made.

Your retailer should ask questions to determine which factors are most important to you and help you fine-tune your purchasing decision.

We’re happy to provide information and advice, regardless of whether or not it’s regarding any of our carpets, so if you have a question, please contact us or leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to address your concerns.

Next: FAQ part 4: The care and feeding of your carpet

3 Comments

  • Adam King

    In the realm of fine craft, there exists several levels of quality and price. To the average consumer, these levels are not obvious simply because they are not as intimately connected to the whole product as the artisan. It is articles like this one that can begin to bridge the gap between the truth and the consumer. It’s not just information you’re presenting here, it’s a chance for the consumer to become “involved” with every aspect of what makes your rugs so superior and so desirable.

  • Adam King

    I am curious about the natural dyes, though. I agree with using all natural dyes and dyeing processes, but what about the longevity of the colors? Will sun, traffic, and occasional cleaning lift and fade the natural colors? How long do these colors usually last under “normal” household conditions?

  • Tracy Davis

    Adam, those are great questions about dyes and colors, thank you for asking.  I’ll try to keep this succinct.

    There are pros and cons to both natural and contemporary synthetic dyes. Good modern chemical dyes are not visually strident and are as color- and light-fast as good natural dyes.  Any color, whether produced by natural or synthetic dyes, can  fade over time if exposed to strong direct sunlight. If you have a situation where direct sunlight hits your floor for part of the day, we recommend that you rotate and/or move the carpet every so often to minimize the potential of fading or uneven color change.

    The question about which dyes are superior is one you didn’t ask. I’ll reserve that for a future blog post!