By Rakesh Sharma Jack

Looking to buy antique rugs or carpets, but unsure of where to look for or what to buy? Welcome to the guide that will not only help you to get value for your money but also lead your way into artistic appreciation of workmanship. These tips are mostly proposed for a new rug buyer and surely there are more insightful tips that a seasoned buyer or expert could add to this set of tips.

The following are the points of consideration:

1. Rug Materials: As compared to synthetic materials, natural fibers like silk, wool or cotton are long lasting without the added disadvantages of environmental concerns such as allergies, release of chemical gases or pollution.

As the concern for the pollution caused due to wall-to-wall carpeting garbage dumps grows, an Oriental or a Persian rug classically ends up being an heirloom and is not thrown away.

2. Lingo matters: The knowledge of terms such as field (the main background of the rug), border, central medallion (a round or diamond-shaped motif in the center) can help you to articulate your choice and assist in your decision making process.

3. Rug KPSI (Knots per square inch): Rug KPSI indicates the worth and quality of a carpet since the smaller the knots, the richer is its quality.

4. Rug Imperfection: Self induced imperfection by the weaver, to reinforce the belief that perfection comes only from heavens above and minor irregularities are strong evidence that a rug was handmade.

5. Rug Pricing: ‘Value for money’ is what you need to understand when you pay for the quality you are getting. Till very recent times, handmade area rugs were unreasonably costly due to lot of middlemen involvement from making of the rug to its sale. The rug prices generally fluctuate depending on the rug material, labor, finesses and density of the knots (KPSI), origin and decorative value.

6. Survey is the Word: Window shopping is a good way to determine your favorite types and to know the price ranges. Generally, antique rugs come in piece. It is a good idea to measure the area for the rug and also the shape of the space you want to cover. The rug size can be determined by subtracting two to three feet from the sides of the room to show floor on each side. Similar types of rugs will differ in prices due to the differences in workmanship, quality, and color balance. Typically, the same type of rug prices will not vary by more than 20%, however, if the reasons for price difference is not apparent, simply ask!

7. Rug Authenticity: In order to avoid buying an illegal rug, a Certificate of Authenticity should be obtained from the vendor, validating rug details such as material used, size and age, origin, KPSI, style and the estimated retail value to aid in insurance purposes.

8. Investment: The fact that antique rugs are mostly one-of-its-kind and age gracefully, they become rare and valuable over the years and hence can be considered as ‘investments”. However, be sure that you can trust your dealer for an original piece instead of a fake antique looking piece. Also remember to look for signs of repair, visible mostly behind the rug. Any restoration process or repair such a replacing a missing border should ideally reflect in the price.

9. Try it first: The look of a rug is affected by the character and lighting of the room. Ask your dealer for a trial to see the effect of daylight and artificial lights at night before making the final decision.

10. Source is the key: Unless an expert, the most vital decision to make is where to buy the rugs from. It is always prudent to go to a long-established, reputable store or vendor who will to patiently answer your queries and explain and show all the rugs that you would want to see before you make a purchase decision. Never be pressured into making an immediate purchase, particularly at going-out-of-business sales or auctions, which often stock reduced quality rugs at significantly exaggerated prices.

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