A 17th-century Persian rug recently sold for an astonishing $33.7-million at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City, breaking the world record for rugs sold at auction. While very few of us have the means to outfit our floors in such a grandiose manner, Persian rugs are beautiful statement pieces that, with proper care, become even more valuable over time.
First, the bottom line: you do not have to spend upscale-auction-house quantities of money to have your own Persian rug. But you do need to do a little research. Informed buyers are most likely to find a great deal, so let’s take just a few moments to examine the differences between the handcrafted and machine-made rugs you may encounter while shopping.
The Real Difference Between Machine Made and Hand Woven Rugs
Hand-knotted Persian rugs are one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Intensively crafted with organic materials such as soft New Zealand wool and dyed with completely all-natural vegetable dyes, these rugs feature designs and vibrant colors reminiscent of the ancient Persian culture. Each rug represents an incredible amount of time, effort and attention to detail on behalf of the artisans.
Machine-made rugs are crafted – generally very quickly – on something called a ‘power loom.’ These pieces are made from a variety of natural and/or synthetic materials including nylon, olefin, and polyester.
While machine made rugs are a great addition to your home, collectors focus most of their attention on handmade pieces. There are three things to look at when determining if a rug was made by hand or machine – stitching, fringe, and design.
Check the Back
The easiest way to tell if your rug is handcrafted is to check out the reverse side. Take a close look at the stitching. Even stitching indicates the rug is machine made. Look for very slight imperfections – they are a good sign, revealing the character of a handmade piece.
Look at the Fringe
Likewise, look at the fringe. If the piece is made by hand, the fringe will be an extension of the rug. If it is made by machine, it will be sewn on or attached.
Is the design apparent on both sides?
Lastly, look at the overall design from both the front and the back. If the design is very evident from both sides, it is likely a handmade piece. This indicates more knots per square inch, a good indication of the rug’s quality.
Looking for a rug for your home?
Brumbaugh’s Fine Home Furnishings stocks close to 1,000 imported and domestic rugs, including a wide selection of antique Persian designs. No matter how you choose to decorate your home, we’re confident we have the perfect rug to complement your furnishings, your tastes, and your lifestyle.
While you’re here, we’ll show you the best ways to care for your new rug to maintain its integrity. We want your Brumbaugh’s rug to become a family heirloom to cherish for generations to come!