Rug Q&A’s: How Are Carpet and Rug Values, Costs and Prices Determined?
There is, of course, a great deal that goes into determination the rug prices and the value of an antique rug. It goes without saying that the same is true of any work of art. On the most basic level, the cost or value of an antique rug is determined by what someone (the market) is willing to pay for it.
Rug prices will depend on how much carpet dealers are willing to pay to acquire it. The price that the dealers set when they want to sell the carpet will depend on the size, rarity, quality of wool, weave, color, condition, age, design and especially how all these attributes combine together in the piece.
Generally speaking, age does play a significant factor when it comes to evaluating the worth of a rug. While it’s necessarily the actual age or year that impacts the value of oriental rugs, older the rugs, especially those from the late 19th century and those from the 15th-17th centuries tend to be the most desirable. These older rugs focused on quality and not affordability. This is why many of the older rugs were woven using better base materials and far more attention was paid when each carpet was produced. Older antique rugs, especially those that are in good condition, are also more valued because they are rarer and have a look and feel like nothing that could be produced today.
While not always the case, especially when dealing with rare and collectible piece, larger rugs will generally cost more than small ones. To a certain extent, values are based intrinsic factors that do not reflect changes in taste. That said, trends will affect the rug prices or value as demand certain looks grows and supply of these one-of-a-kind items will, over time, diminish.
At any given time certain types of rugs will be more popular than others. Naturally, this sort of demand will create a higher value and price point (at least for a certain period of time). But trends change and fads fade. Therefore the value of “trendy” items has a greater risk of diminishing once the trends change.
Collectible rugs, rare carpets and the “best” examples do tends to retain their value over time. These “cream of the crop” pieces have also been the safest investments and they have a strong track record of escalating in value over time.
Continuing The Discussion On What Rugs Should Cost
Authentic Persian and Persian-style modern rugs continue to be a staple of interior design, as they have been for centuries. Many selections are available and at a range of prices too. Thus far, the most expensive rug in the world is an early vase carpet from the Clark collection which sold at Sotheby’s auction house in NYC for $34,000,000.
You can find rugs from a few hundred dollar to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You may be wondering what the difference is between the lower-end rugs and the ones that sell at Sotheby’s to an upscale market. Let us try to unravel the mystery behind Persian carpet pricing.
A Rug’s Value Is Not All About the Knots
Many people are under the misconception that rug value is determined by knot density alone. The number of knots in a square inch of weaving is one factor, but it is not the only factor that determines a rug’s value by far. Higher density rugs do tend to bring higher prices, but that is because the higher KPSI / knots per square inch allows the weaver the ability to incorporate finer detail into their designs.
Authentic Persian rugs are woven entirely by hand. Each knot is individually produced by the weaver. The rug is a product of sitting at the loom for long hours every day and tying thousands upon thousands of knots on the warp and beating them into a firm fabric. However, there are many steps that go into the rug before the weaving takes place. The sheep must be shorn, the cotton grown, and the silk produced by the silk moths. It must be spun into the warp and weft thread and dyed using plant material. Only then is it ready to be turned into a fine work of art.
Some rugs take months and others take several years. The finer the materials, the longer the rug will take and the higher the price will be. Time factors into the price in terms of the effort that the rug took and the details that this fineness allows. Even though knot count has something to do with the price, it is only a portion of the story.
Materials Matter When It Comes to Rugs And Values
Materials play a big factor in the value of the rug. Silk rugs are the most valuable, particularly those that use a warp of silk and not wool or cotton. Silk has the ability to be hand spun exceptionally fine, so fine that you can hardly see it. It is also extremely strong. Silk also takes dyes well and has a sheen that is not found in wool and cotton rugs. Silk rugs allow the weaver to create almost life-like detail in the design. However, they are also labor-intensive and take a long time to produce, so of course, the price reflects these qualities.
Silk rugs with a silk foundation are the most desirable and the most expensive. Next comes silk rugs on a cotton or wool foundation. Cotton is finer than wool, therefore will take longer to weave. Wool is the least expensive of the materials and the most common. The least expansive are the tribal and nomadic rugs made of 100% wool, with some exceptions that will be discussed later.
How Does Size Effect Rug Prices?
Size is the one of factors that could affect the valuation of a rug. While not completely accurate, the bigger they are, the more their prices go up. Many of the oversized rugs are woven on extremely large rug looms, while others are woven in sections and sewn together.
Those woven on a single, gigantic loom are the most valuable, not to mention and time and materials that go into the palace-sized rugs. Every inch you add to the rug is a few more hundred knots for human hands to weave, so the price goes up exponentially after you reach a certain size.
Uniqueness and Design Affect The Value of Rugs
The factors that have been examined up to this point are important and all go into the valuation of a rug, but uniqueness and design are some of the most important factors in price.
No two rugs are ever the same, but during the 1500’s designs began to be standardized, particularly in the rug weaving centers located in cities such as Tabriz, Kerman, Heriz, and Tehran. The weaver was given a pattern and told to follow it. This resulted in the production of rugs of a similar pattern and colors. This practice continued up through modern times. As a general rule, if you see a lot of the same rug design, the price will probably be lower than a one-of-a-kind work.
The designs of some famous rug designers are more valuable than others. For instance, the designs produced in the late 1880’s by Ustad Mohtasham often bring a hefty price. Rugs from certain areas and regions also bring a higher price. However, rugs that are unique and one-of-a-kind bring the highest price. They are like a fine painting and are valued for their art value more than for their physical characteristics.
It was stated earlier that the nomadic and tribal rugs are often lower priced than the more intricate designs produced in the cities, but this is not always the case. The designs and patterns from certain tribes and areas seem to experience rises in popularity from time to time. One example of this are those produced by the Berber tribes of Morocco.
These traditional tribal designs of the Moroccan rugs feature mostly white backgrounds with lines of dark brown and sometimes other colors running through then in seemingly random and quite modern-looking designs. They work well with contemporary designs including Scandinavian modern, minimalist, and other contemporary designs. The prices for authentic Berber tribal rugs have been going steadily up since the 1950’s and have recently skyrocketed.
Another factor is the colors used. The use of unusual color combinations, or highly popular color combinations will also affect the value of the rug. Rugs dyed with natural, as opposed to synthetic dyes, also have an appeal that increases their value, particularly if they are not faded and are still bright and vibrant.
The Condition Affects Rug Prices?
The value of the rug will be higher if care has been taken to maintain the rug. For instance, not placing it near a window where the sunlight will fade the colors or allowing the grand kids to play football on it are important in preserving the value. A well-maintained rug will always have more value than one splattered with wine stains.
When the rug reaches 30 years old it is considered a vintage rug. Once it reaches 80 years old, it becomes antique. As the rug ages, one can expect some oxidation and wear and tear, but the better the condition, the more valuable it will be as it ages. One important thing to consider is to make sure you have the rug cleaned by someone who specializes in cleaning authentic Persian rugs. Regular dry cleaning or laundry chemicals can ruin the value of a fine antique instantly.
To learn more, you should read: Should You Repair Your Antique Rugs?
What Makes A Museum Quality Valuable Rug?
Some of the most beautiful antique rugs in the world are located in collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and the Tokapi Museum. Of course, the older the rug, the rarer it is and the more valuable. Caring properly for a rug can help it last a long time, but it is still made from plant and animal materials that will eventually deteriorate. Those that are several centuries old are a rare treasure, regardless of condition.
The oldest rug in the world is the Pazyryk rug, which was produced in the 5th century BC, but it is extremely rare to find one more than two centuries old.
Rugs that are representative of a certain time period or artistic movement are also important pieces and more valuable. If the rug is of large size, completely intact, and in good condition, the prices can be astronomical. These are for the serious collector who is committed to preserving a world treasure.
Here, our collection specializes in rugs that are unique and of the highest quality and value. We occasionally get in one of those rare museum-quality rugs. We love to offer highly collectible antiques to the public at a price that reflects the true value of the rug. Come stroll through our collection and see if the perfect rug for you is waiting for you to take it home.