How to Judge Quality of Oriental Rugs

There are many qualities that make up a good rug. That being said, tt is very hard to tell if a rug is good quality because many aspects of a good rug come down to individual taste and preference.

Here are some more debated qualities of a good rug.

Finely Knotted Rugs

Usually finely knotted rugs are more desirable than less finely knotted rugs. The curved lines in a rugs design can be created more smoothly in a rug with many knots per square inch. Also, rugs that are finely knotted reflect light better because their surface is so dense. However, fine knotting is not the only quality of a good rug. There are cases that fine weaves are not appropriate, such as with tribal rugs. Most of the case a finely knotted rug is more attractive and prefered, but not in every case.

Natural vs. Synthetic Dyes

There is a lot of debate over whether natural or synthetic dyes are better. Either way, is is often impossible, even for experts, to tell the difference between them without extensive chemical analysis. Usually the agreement among old-rug collectors is that natural dyes are better. Natural dyes add to the inital cost of the rug, but they also increase the value of the rug. While natural dyes are expensive, hard to work with and time-consuming, they are also resistant to fading in sunlight and resistant to bleeding when exposed to water. The result is a rug with highly vibrant colors, that last even if they are over 100 years old. On the other end, really good synthetic dyes are cheap and easy to use. They produce an enormous range of consistent colors that are fast in water and resistant to fading.

Hand Spun vs Machine Spun Wool

For thousands of years, weavers spun wool by hand to create yarn for oriental rugs. By World War II, this process became automated and nearly all wool being spun by machines. Machine spun wool is very uniform and gives the rug a very formal appearance. However, most collectors value the effect produces by hand spun wool. Hand spun wool absorbs more dye where it is loosly spun and less where it is tightly spun.

Old Rugs vs New Rugs

In good condition, old rugs are worth more than new rugs. This is because age adds character to a rug. The colors mellow out and wool acquires a patina. This also goes back to the synthetic/natural dye debate. Rugs made between 1930 and 1990 were almost always made of synthetic dyes. Rugs spun around that time were viewed as inferior to the older ones. Now, natural dyes and hand spun wool are back in use in some rugs. Old designs have been restored and are used by modern weavers. With the older techniques coming back in style,the result is that you can not tell what is a good quality rug by its age.

Height of the Pile

Most new rug buyers mistake thick rugs for quality. In fact, the finest rugs are often the thinnest. However, is a rug is going to get plenty of use, it should have some body.

Finishing Process

Good oriental rugs have a natural flow. This comes about through natural aging or washing the rug in substances that can tone down the colors of a new rug. Rugs that are washed are not bleached, nor are they washed to make them unnaturally shiny.

Qualities to look for in Antique Rugs

  • Good rugs will lie flat on their backs. Rugs with wrinkles or curled edges will wear prematurely.
  • A regular, geometric shape is always preferred, but some rugs are misshapen. This happens when they come off the loom wider at one end than the other.
  • Good rugs have colors that resist fading in normal light and bleeding when exposed to water.
  • Moth damage, holes, rips, stains and missing ends or edges are tolerable when rugs are really old, but overall rugs in good condition are preferred to those in poor condition.
  • Some wool is better than other wool. Your wool rug should feel fleecy and soft, absorb dye well and can take heavy use. If your wool rug is full of kemp and is dry, lusterless and can not properly absorb dye, then the wool is low quality.

In general, you should pick a rug with a character you like. Buying an Oriental Rug from David Tiftickjian & Sons is educational and fun. There is much to know when selecting an Oriental Rug and we assist each customer based on their aesthetics and budget concerns. Visit either of our two locations and start your journey to finding the perfect rug.