Steve Boodakian of This Old House recently wrote an excellent article on how to choose an Oriental Rug which we would like to elaborate on. There are some great points within this article which are worth mentioning, and several suggestions which may also be added.
Mr. Boodakian mentions it's a good idea to consider drawing a rough sketch of the room. While this certainly is productive, it's not the only way to get a feel for the space. We recommend another alternative should you have the time, is to take a look at some standard rug sizes, then apply them to the actual space under consideration: Take an old newspaper, spread it out, and masking tape it together into the size of your ideal rug, so you may actually gauge it's size on your floor, in proper proportion to the other fixtures in the room.
Mr. Boodakian also mentions the challenges of purchasing an Oriental carpet specifically for a room. "Conventional wisdom says that decorating a room should start with the Oriental Rug." This is absolutely true, however, when you cannot start with the Oriental Rug, you should buy what you like. While you may want to decorate to incorporate those 20 year old drapes, it's a good idea to consider if you may be replacing those soon too. If you fall in love with a rug, but it just doesn't go with the dated drapes, consider purchasing the rug with plans to make changes to the drapes! It's far more costly in the long run to live with a rug you're not in love with than one which suits your design needs.
While it's true that people can literally get "tied up in knots," one of the most important things to consider is the source you are purchasing from. We cannot emphasis the importance of dealing with reputable business. When you deal with a known company, you're buying safety, trust, and security. This helps you avoid those costly mistakes, and almost eliminates the need for you to do your own research.
While you can investigate characteristics which give a rug more or less value, it's very difficult to do so. Most Oriental Rug people will agree they are constantly learning every day. Some characteristics which may facilitate value as Boodakian states, are quality, country of origin, age, condition and decorative demand. These certainly are elements to consider, however are just several of the many facets to Oriental Rug purchase (we can't expect someone to elaborate on all in one article!) Nearly none of any one aspects can be learned over the course even several months. To accurately state the age of a rug may be difficult even for a professional. How will you know the seller is being honest? Or maybe the seller just doesn't know any better himself. To assess the design of an Oriental Carpet also needs consideration. Most people will not notice a medallion which is significantly off center, or a pattern that simply does not land square. Although in most cases this won't necessarily detract from value, there certainly are carpets that these factors are considered less desirable traits.
Perhaps the key to this article is that people interested in purchasing oriental rugs should go to as many dealers as possible. Compare prices, compare qualities, compare everything. Consider the dealer, who they are, their reputation, and what they may have at stake. If the deal sounds too good, it probably is. Stay away from itinerant rug sales, GOB's and traveling auctions. Often inferior goods are specifically shipped in for this sale, and marked up to spectacularly high prices.
Lastly, Boodakian's note on appraisals is a very important one: "A current, honest appraisal of an Oriental rug by a qualified appraiser
should include the type, origin, size, age, description of design and
quality, condition, and retail replacement value. Beware of an
appraisal that seems to greatly exaggerate the value of your rug. In
case of loss, the inflated value you've been paying insurance premiums
on may not be the basis of the settlement." Don't forget to take many, many photographs of your carpet as well. What is a qualified appraiser? Look for a Certified Oriental Rug Appraiser.
For additional readings:
Consider an Online Assessment of an Oriental Rug
Questions check-list. What to consider before purchasing!
How to tell a good Oriental Rug from a bad one