What to Look For
The price of an Oriental rug is based on:
2. Country of origin
5. Decorative demand
Most people quite literally "get tied up in knots" judging the quality of Oriental rugs. In over 25 years in the business of buying, selling, and appraising Oriental rugs, I have counted the knots on less than 100 of them. There are more important things to judge by. The weave should be fine enough to clearly express the motifs of the design. A bold geometric design may have less than 100 knots per square inch while a detailed floral pattern may require 300 or more. While tightness and regularity of weave are important, the quality of the wool determines the resilience and lasting patina of a rug. The quality and fastness of the dyes are also important.
Among modern rugs (those woven in the past few decades), one should look at the "personality" rather than "nationality" of the rug. Traditionally, Iran (Persia) was the source for the finest rugs—the benchmark against which all others were compared. However, the quality of rugs from India, Pakistan, China, Turkey, Tibet and Nepal has improved in the past 20 years to the extent that many Persian-design carpets from these countries are finer than the Iranian originals.
In addition to the factors above, the demand and price for Oriental rugs is highly dependent on design and color trends. Many of us remember the popular colors of the 1960s—orange, brown and green. Rugs woven in those "hot" colors flew out of the store. Today, even the finest of them are selling for a fraction of their original price. Classic designs tend to retain their value reliably.
Simply stated, age and condition affect the value of used rugs. All other factors being equal, age will increase the value, and adverse condition (i.e. stains and wear) will decrease the value.