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7 expert tips for buying vintage rugs

By Adrianna Johns on 21st June 2019

Carpets will get walked on and accidents will inevitably happen, therefore why should you buy a vintage rug? The answer is simply because it can be a great investment if you know exactly what to look for.

Whether it’s an impeccable Persian carpet or a sublime Turkish Kilim, we have gathered seven tips from several experts in order for you to be aware of what to look for when shopping for high-quality vintage rugs.

1. Always buy directly

Although it may seem tempting, do your best to avoid the markets and instead buy direct.

When travelling abroad, many people tend to hire guides to navigate the area, which is where the problem arises. Guides will occasionally take their clients to scam dealers in order to receive a large commission for themselves.

We suggest doing some research prior to your trip, as this way allows you to find reputable suppliers that are situated outside of the hectic tourist markets; a way to save your time, as well as your money.

Persian rugs are somewhat of a contradiction – the epitome of a work of art whilst also being one of the most coveted investments one can own

2. Remember to check the edges

Although an important task, it is easily forgettable. If the edges of the rug are beginning to or have already frayed, then this means that the rest will unravel quickly.

Seeing as the edges of a rug is typically the most expensive to repair, we suggest that you take your time to check all of the edges to ensure that they are still bound together otherwise your investment will be worthless.

3. Is it handmade?

Ensuring that a machine has not made the rug is perhaps one of the most important things to remember when wanting to invest in a quality vintage rug.

As the co-owner of the carpet firm Orley Shabahang, Bahram Shabahang, stated in an interview with Architectural Digest, you should simply ask the dealer to see the back of it.

“When you flip the rug, it must look almost identical to the front. That’s the easiest way to tell that is has been handmade,” explained Shabahang.

The more direct the chain of purchase, the more likely your rug truly is as authentic as you are being told by the dealer

4. Verify that the rug has not been painted

More often than not, disreputable dealers will attempt to scam the buyer by taking advantage.

In order to ensure that the rug’s dyes have not been fabricated, we suggest that you take a slightly damp cloth and gently rub it along the rug’s surface. If any dye has transferred to the cloth, then the best thing to do is to politely move on; another reason to follow our first tip.

5. Opt for a natural dye

Unlike chemical dyes, which are harsh, natural dyes improve the overall look of the finished product.

Made from the trustworthy technique or extracting colours from the skins of pomegranates, walnuts, onions and certain leaves, natural dyes will always give rugs a more intense depth.

6. Any signs of faux ageing?

Avoid acid-washing — the common method used in faux ageing — leads to a beige or washed-out tone on the rug.

A true vintage rug will maintain its true vibrant colours for hundreds of years making it a worthy investment that will last several generations, whilst gaining value.

Your own taste, or the look you are trying to create in your home, is key when purchasing a vintage rug

7. Nothing is perfect

When investing your money in vintage rugs, remember that imperfections are inevitable.

In an interview with Elle Decor, world-renowned designer, Ben Soleimani, explained how “reasonable wear and imperfections are good — even desirable. Especially the oxidation of colours”.

Whilst some wear and tear are okay, you should differentiate the acceptable from the unacceptable. As mentioned previously, rugs with fraying are not worth your money. Dirt, on the other hand, is easily fixable with a solution of one part vinegar to six parts water, along with a gentle blotting technique, or find the services of a professional rug cleaner.