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