For more than two millennia, people have enjoyed Persian rugs for their beauty and longevity. Because of their superior quality, they retain value after many years as long as they are not damaged or worn out. Therefore, some people consider Persian rugs as worthwhile investments. But before you spend thousands of dollars for one of these unique masterpieces, here’s what you need to know about choosing, buying, and profiting from these exquisite works of art.
7 Considerations When Buying Persian Rugs
Those who want to purchase Persian rugs as investments must first learn an important distinction. While Oriental rugs come from all across the Asian continent, Persian rugs only come from the area of modern-day Iran. Although borders or empires have changed, rug-making is a 2,500-year-old tradition that has remained the same over time.
When you buy a Persian rug, you have a rare and beautiful piece of the country’s artistic history in your home. Each one is handmade and unique. Although they may have similar patterns, you will always find subtle differences that make them one-of-a-kind.
The skill and workmanship that go into producing Persian rugs are what make them valuable. Each one is knotted by hand and requires multiple artisan months, sometimes years, to complete. More knots equate to more work, but a high knot count also indicates its quality. You won’t find the same level of workmanship in machine-made rugs. Not only are they identical, but they are usually much lower quality than the real thing.
Another characteristic to watch for is the quality of the material. Persian rugs are woven from all-natural wool, silk, or cotton, not synthetic substitutes. They also contain natural dyes from plants, insects, and other animals. In addition to lasting longer, they won’t adversely affect the yarn. Since they are made from high-quality materials, these rugs can last for centuries.
However, you get what you pay for. And, the cost of labor and materials is on the rise. Although Persian rugs have always been considered valuable, these factors only increase their worth.
The condition is one of the most important factors affecting the value of a Persian rug. Some examples that have sold for millions at auction were hundreds of years old. However, they retained their value because they were in excellent condition with no repairs.
So before you buy, ask yourself a few questions. Has the rug been well cared for? Is it soft and pliable? Or is it brittle and stiff?
If you decide to invest, then you will also need to ensure that you continue proper care and maintenance so it won’t depreciate. This includes vacuuming, sweeping off debris, or shaking them out as part of household chores. You should also rotate it regularly, avoid direct sunlight, protect it from heavy furniture, and clean stains immediately. But if it’s silk, you will need to get it professionally cleaned.
Any collector will tell you that rarity is another thing you must consider. Older Persian rugs with few surviving examples of the style will be the most sought-after. However, rugs that originate from famous workshops, tribes, or cities that no longer exist will also be extremely valuable.
Sadly, Persian rug-making is becoming a dying art. Many village and tribal weavers have already passed on or are moving to larger cities to find better-paying jobs. Therefore, there are fewer skilled weavers today and fewer Persian rugs produced every year. And, there will likely be even less in the years to come. Since they are already in short supply, prices will only increase as supply chains dwindle.
Many people view Persian rugs as classic decor with timeless appeal. Although they were originally used by tribes to protect against the harsh climate, they became popular among 15th-century European royalty. In addition to elevating their status, it also brought them to new markets.
While it is subjective, a rug’s appeal will also affect its value. They come in a variety of designs, unique patterns, and vibrant color combinations. Though some look similar, each one is distinctive to a specific region, tribe, and family. Establishing this history gives the piece more appeal which could make it infinitely more valuable.
7. Generational Wealth
Those who are considering Persian rugs as investments may also factor in their potential for passing on generational wealth. Like other forms of art, they will appreciate in time if they are well-maintained. And when you compare it to other forms of art, Persian rugs come with a relatively low price tag.
Finding Reputable Dealers
The experts and serious investors know that if you want a quality piece, then you will need to work with reputable dealers. Not only will they ensure authenticity upon careful inspection, but they will also provide certification if you ever decide to sell it.
But unfortunately, there are not as many dealers as there once were. And Persian rugs are the type of thing you just buy online. Like art, you want to examine it for yourself and ask questions before purchasing it.
Finding reputable dealers will protect your investment and ensure that you don’t pay more than you should. But if you have any doubts about who you are working with, check out their reputation online. Find out how long they have been in business and look for customer reviews. This information can help you identify legitimate dealers from potential scammers.
Profiting from Persian Rugs as Investments
Many people get ideas when they hear stories of thrift store finds that sold for a fortune at auction. Although the most expensive Persian rug sold for $33.7 million at Sotheby’s New York in 2013, it wasn’t hiding in the back corner of a second-hand store. It’s not very realistic to expect that you will find a hidden treasure that will bring this type of profit.
However, it’s still possible to get a return from Persian rugs as investments. It won’t pay out overnight, but it can earn decent returns in time. But like all investments, alternative assets come with risks. Trends and preferences change, and some rugs never sell at auction. So, you must consider more than projected returns. You have to do your research, find reputable sellers, and take the time to understand the market. But more importantly, you have to invest in quality if you want to earn a profit. It won’t come cheap, but it may pay off in time.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.