Buying Guide for Persian Rugs
The information in this page will guide you if you are looking at buying a Persian rug from an online seller or from a rug retail store.
Whether you are new to Persian rugs or already have some knowledge and experience, it is very important to know what to look for and what to avoid when shopping for a Persian carpet. I have
received many e-mails and phone calls from folks who have seen Persian rugs being offered and the question often asked is how to tell if they are described accurately and how to make sure that they are not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, there are many Persian rug online and retail businesses that are
using very deceptive methods and promises, which is why this trade has earned such a bad reputation. Most regular rug retail stores offer bogus savings up to 70% off and sales that never end and so on. One of my personal favorites is the
GOING-OUT-OF-BUSINESS-SALE and when the sales ends after a couple of years, the carpet business is still there as a result of some divined intervention. And yes, some members of my own family practice this nonsense and it's one of the reasons why I
chose a regular job over a career in Persian rugs. In the last couple of years I have also noticed that more and more internet Persian rug stores are using the same gimmicks as regular retail stores and some have taken this a step further by actually deceiving the
buyers and misrepresenting the rugs they offer. Most sellers know that the odds are that the buyer knows is too inexperienced or take full advantage of the fact that the buyer can not see the rug in person and are at the mercy of the sellers word.
To help you guide through the confusion of buying a Persian and seperate the good from the bad, I have made a list of things to look out for with some hopeful helpful tips.
1. BUY FROM A LICENSED BUSINESS WHENEVER POSSIBLE
I think that statement speaks for itself. There are a lot of Persian rugs being offered at road-shows, conventions, so-called customs auctions and by traveling salesmen. These are the places where most of the fraud takes place. Amongst the most
common tricks is the advertisement of Chinese and Indian carpets as authentic Persian rugs from Iran. To a novice eye, it is virtually impossible to distinguish a high quality silk Chinese carpet from a real Persian silk rug and some will
take full advantage of it. If you see a Persian rug that you absolutely must have, find out if the event is being sponsored by an actual retail store and get the physical address. Also, if possible, take someone with you who knows about
Persian rugs and be prepared for a round a haggling that would make any car salesman blush. And again, please be very careful!!! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
2. RETURN POLICY
Never buy a rug, especially through the internet, without a proper return policy. Some businesses sell the rugs at very low prices and then charge an obscene shipping rate to make up for the profit, and they typically do not refund the shipping
cost in the event of a return. This virtually guarantees that the buyer will not bother sending the rug back. Another practice I have seen is a restocking fee, which I can understand in certain types of merchandise that goes back to a manufacturer, but for rugs??
How hard can it be to sign for the package and place the carpet back on a stack.
Only matters in cars as far as I'm concerned and even then it is purposely over inflated. Rug sellers have taken this to the next level by making it completely ridiculous. First of all, every real Persian rug is handmade and the price is set by the weaver and by
market conditions. Apparently someone came up with the idea of adding extra zeroes behind the true value and then calling it a MSRP. Problem is that by the time you buy the rug after a stupendous discount, you really don't know the actual value of the
rug. The most common bogus discounts are 50-70% off, but I'm sure there is someone somewhere who is thinking of going even further.
Pretty to look at but have very little purpose in most cases. Every genuine Persian carpet you purchase should come with some sort of document that lists the origin of the rug, quality, size, approximate age, date of purchase, your address, and the selling price. Most
important, you want to see the words "guaranteed handmade Persian rug made in Iran" and the sellers signature. Some will scan a picture of the rug, which is nice but not required. You want this document in the event that something
happens like a flood, fire, theft, etc. Also, please do not let the seller add his MSRP to the certificate of the Persian carpet since every credible insurance claims adjuster or expert will just laugh at it. What matters are the actual facts of the rug and
not the sellers wishful thinking. Also, by having the invoice, document, or certificate signed, he or she is saying that the information is correct and now you have something in writing that you can present if the rug turned out to be
something other than promised. Having a proper document will also help in case you need to sell the rug later.
5. ASK QUESTIONS!!
Sounds to easy, but you will be amazed by how many of my clients have purchased rugs without asking any questions other than how to pay. The more you ask, the better you get to know the seller and always follow your gut instinct. Since I own an internet
business, I rarely get to meet my clients in person, but I can get to know them fairly well just by talking on the phone and by exchanging e-mails. It is also important to know if the rug fits your needs. I personally like to get to
know my clients so that I can make sure they are getting the right rug for the right reasons.
6. VERIFY QUALITY - VERY IMPORTANT!!!
Yes, you can do it even if you are not an expert or are buying a rug online. Look for the details of the rug and somewhere you will see a magical number that
will show whether the seller has any integrity or is completely off the deep end. The thing to look is the KPSI, which stands for Knots per Square Inch. If
you buy a rug online, you should always see it and if it's not there, ask what the KPSI is. The knot count is to rugs what horse power is to cars. The higher,
the more expensive, and the more luxurious. Naturally, many sellers like to either round up (never down) the numbers or completely lie about them. One of my
clients bought a very nice rug and he paid a fair price for it. Problem is, he was told that the rug has 600 kpsi when in reality it only had 350. As you can
imagine, he was not too happy, but at least he likes the rug and he didn't pay too much.
Here is how to solve the problem. Tell the seller that you want to see a close up picture of the back of the rug with a ruler so that you can verify the knot count. It does not have been done right
away, but tell the seller to e-mail you the picture when he has taken it. Now, two things will happen. The seller will take the picture and e-mail it to you, or he will ask you why you want it and come up with a million reasons why he can
not do it or why you don't know how to count the knots. If he throws a tantrum, chances are you caught him exaggerating the quality and move on. If he says that his camera does not take close-ups, remind him that any camera or phone can do the trick nowadays. Let's say you
got the picture and opened it. Below is an example of one of my high end Tabriz carpets and both pictures are of the same rug.
Do yourself a favor and save your eyesight. If you can, open the picture using a photo software which chances are you already have in your computer. Increase the viewing % and I typically increase it to either
150 or 200 depending in the size of the picture. Now all you need to do is count the knots over the distance of one inch. For example, the picture of the left shows a Tabriz rug with about 19 knots, which is standard for all high end Tabriz rugs. Now just square the number and you get 361, that's it. You got the KPSI. Compare what you see to what the seller claims and see for yourself. Now,
please note that most retailers including myself do not get on our knees and check the knot count of every rug. There will always be some variance and I use the example above to explain. The picture on the right is a high quality Tabriz rug and the picture on the left in the close-up of the back of the same
These type of high end Tabriz carpets come in various different qualities, most have a cotton foundation (fringes) and some have a silk base. The one here is a 50 Raj Tabriz rug with a cotton foundation and over the years I have learned that these pieces have around 18-19 knots per
inch, so their kpsi is between 324 and 361. When you listed the actual rug in my website, I stated that it had about 350 kpsi, which I think is a fair description. If you look around the internet, you will find many
sellers who will list the knot count of these type of Tabriz rugs as 400 or higher and that is in my opinion stretching the truth. Imagine buying a car with 300 hp and later you find out that it only has 200hp. It's easy to feel the horse power
when you are pulling your boat uphill, but it is very hard to tell the true quality in high end rugs. Most rug retailers know that you will probably not get on your knees and grab a magnifying glass and they need to come up with
excuses of why their rugs are better than others.
7. IT TAKES MANY MONTHS OR YEARS TO MAKE A RUG
Yeah sure, and pigs can fly. I'm sure that some sheik, king, or extreme wealthy person had a rug custom made and you might see a huge rug at
some museum, and yes, they can take years to make. But the ones you see in stores?? I'm afraid not. The weavers would have starved, evicted, and slapped
silly by their spouses if they spend that much time on one rug. If you look around my website, you will see my mother standing next to weavers that we have
bought rugs from, so I guess I do know a bit of what I speaking off. Weavers do not get paid until a rug is done. Period!! Reason being is there are too many
things that can go wrong such as that the colors bleed during washing, the rug turns out to be crooked, one of designs is messed up and so on. That is also why
most rugs are made not by individuals, but by a number of people. The sooner a rug is completed, the sooner it can be sold to the local store owners or
wholesalers. Depending on the quality and size, a rug can be made in weeks or a couple of months at the most. For example, the rug you see above is a 7' by 10'
50 raj Tabriz rug and it is typically completed in about 6-8 weeks by a team of 2 to 4 weavers. After all, weavers have families to support and bills to
pay just like us and most can't afford to invest months or years on one rug. Also, weavers rarely work on just one rug and typically have several going at
the same time. This is done to reduce their financial burden if one rug is not sold and it is also to keep their minds sharp.
8. SIGNED RUGS ARE MORE VALUABLE
Not true in most cases. There are some well known weavers who demand top dollar for their work, but for the most part a signature is just a little added novelty.
Some types of rugs like the high end Isfahan and pure silk Qom pieces are almost always signed, whereas others like the Tabriz rugs are rarely signed. One of the
most famous weavers was Mr. Habibian, who used to make some of the finest Nain rugs. His work was so well respected that you will still see many high quality
Nain rugs with his signature and if you look around my galleries, you will probably also see a few. Problem is that he passed away many years ago and yet
you see new Nain rugs with his signature. Some of the retailers noticed that they can sell his story due to his fame and add a few dollars to the price and
now many weavers add his signature to make them look like an authentic Habibian rugs. A responsible seller will always share the truth with a buyer, but
unfortunately some sellers are still in the story telling business.
Well, I hope that these pointers will help you and that you enjoyed your visit. Please feel free to let me know if you think something should be added or changed and I wish you a pleasant experience
finding that special rug and many years of pleasure admiring it.
Additional Information About Specific Persian Rug Types And Designs