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What's My Oriental Rug Worth?

First of all, let's set the parameters for evaluating what your oriental rug, Persian rug, antique oriental rug, or hand knotted area rug is worth! Rugs are a commodity. As such, price is based on available supply and demand. Since oriental rugs wear out, antique oriental rugs a few in number so the price will increase. Not all antique rugs go up in price! You may ask why not, or why didn't this antique oriental rug go up as much as that oriental rug? To get to the answer, we have to look at a number of factors to determine the worth, or value of a particular oriental rug. By generally accepted definitions, an oriental rug is defined as one that is hand knotted, or hand woven. This means a Navajo rug is a true oriental rug, and subject to the same criteria as a typical oriental rug in determining it's true value. Down below we will discuss the key elements for determining "what an oriental rug is worth". We will set a system for hand knotted rugs below, but the same criteria may be used for hand woven flat rugs and kilims. We will exclude all area rugs that are machine made, hand hooked, and tufted, as these rugs fail the test of being hand knotted, or hand woven, and as such, lack the essential characteristics needed to be evaluated in this way. 


The Essential Elements --What a Rug is Worth


Knot Density


Materials Used


Design Elements


Colors, Blending, and Dye types




Condition of rug


Demand & Availability

Here we have the "big seven" essential elements in determining what your oriental rug is worth. EACH Essential Element MUST BE Multiplied by a special MULTIPLIER for each Element....Knot Density x 11, Material Used x 7, Design Elements x 6, Colors, Blending, and Dye types x 5, Age x 3, Condition of Rug x 2, Demand and Availability x 2. Take all these new multiplied figures and add them all together. You must then take this total new point figure of all the Essential Elements and multilpy this new number by the CMF. This new figure should give you the retail price per square foot. As with all commodities, rug prices are determined between the buyer and the seller at both the production, wholesale, and retail level. In terms of discussion, we will concentrate on these elements as they relate to the wholesale and retail oriental rug market. Once you have mastered oriental rug valuation from a technical standpoint, then you need to know what value is placed on a general rug type within the oriental rug world. An example would be; "Is A new Heriz oriental rug more valuable than a Tekab Bidjar"?  When I mentored under Caroline Bosly, one of the finest and most knowledgeable oriental rug brokers in the world, I quickly found out that even with all my experience, oriental rugs are still subjective to what the people "WANT" at a particular time. What is "in fashion" often has the most effect on the current price of a particular oriental rug. The question poised for the smart buyer is, "Is this rug worth the price being asked"? Often, what is "in fashion" demands prices well beyond reasonable valuations, and are often subject to sharp downturns in price. For now, we will focus on the SEVEN ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS.

Knot Density

After many years of experience, you will be able to look at the back of a rug and be within 10% of the actual knot count. Knot count is based on taking the number of knots/nodes and counting one inch in each direction, and then multiplying these two figures together. When you look at the back of a rug, first make sure that you can find one node color by itself. If two colored nodes are always together, then you have an oriental rug that is not fully depressed, and you are seeing both sides of the knot. this means your figure must be divided by two, to get the actual knot count. It is best to do this counting in a few places on the rug to get an average count. Being hand knotted, this figure may vary by 10%.

Knot Density Table                                   Points

675 and above                                            10

575 to 674                                                      9

425 to 574                                                      8

320 to 424                                                      7

245 to 319                                                      6

180 to 244                                                      5

140 to 179                                                      4

  90 to 139                                                      3

  64 to   89                                                      2

  37 to   64                                                      1

    0 to   36                                                      0


Materials Used                             Points

Silk on silk                                                  10

Kurk Wool on silk/fine cotton                 9

Fine wool w/wo silk inlay on cotton      8

Good wool   "                        "                     7

Std. & Shanghai wool on cotton               6

Std. wool on wool                                       5

Mercerized cotton/ low quality wool     4

Dead wool on cotton                                  3

Dead wool on wool                                    2

Dead wool on jute                                      1

Cotton on jute                                             0


Design Elements 


10 points - Minutely detailed curvilinear patterns cover the entire


 8 points - Minutely detailed rectilinear patterns, or fine curvilinear 


 7 points - Picture/portrait rugs, moderately floral curvilinear designs

                  w/without a medallion, fine Turkoman (Bokhara)

 5 points - Moderate angles/curves, allover designs, open areas

 4 points - Less detailed rectilinear/curvilinear designs like Heriz, and

                  open-field Kirman.

 3 points - Simple and/or repeating patterns like Turkomans with large 

                  guls, often called (elephant foot prints). 

 2 points- Carved Chinese 120L or above. 

 1 point - Carved Chinese less than 120L, Indo Aubusson/Savonnerie.

 0 points - One color rug carved, plain rug.


Colors, Blending, and Dye types                                                  


10 points - (15) or more colors and shades blended in perfect harmony.

                   Rug may be either Jewel or Antique tones. Top quality 

                   vegetable or Chrome dyes.

 8 points - (10) or more colors and shades blended in perfect harmony. 

                  Not quite the "WOW" feeling. More Chrome dyes being


 6 points - (6) or more colors that blend well. No single color jumps

                  out at you. Most modern quality production falls into this


 4 points - (4) or more colors that blend. Nothing knocks your socks

                  off here. Middle quality Kirman, Turkoman, Kurdish,

                  Heriz, and the like.

 2 points - (4) or more colors with the insertion of a color that just 

                  does not quite fit the blend. Many tribal oriental rugs fall

                  into this category using a "hot, or electric" color. 

 1 point - (3) or more "hot or electric" colors that do not blend, rugs

                 with a bad antique wash, and rugs that have been overly 

                 toned down.

 0 points - Oriental rugs with colors beyond help, even with 

                  chemical washing. This group also includes single, or

                  two-toned rugs.       




10 points - 100 years and older (antique)

  8 points - 70 years and older (semi-antique)       

  6 points - 50 years and older (old)           

  4 points - 30 years and older    

  2 points - 20 years and older   

  1 point - Below 20 years 

  0 points - Below 10 years (considered new)     


Condition of a Rug 


10 points - Oriental rug is "like new". The rugs entire pile is present, including the fringe, side cords, and selvedges. There is no damage to this rug. Antique, and semi-antique rugs a rarely found in this condition.   

 9 points - Only fringe shows some wear, and pile is even throughout. The other conditions of the rug remain perfect. 

 8 points - The rug pile is worn evenly, and reduced in height about 1/4th of an inch. There may be a few professional repairs not apparent under normal examination.

 7 points - This oriental rug is still in excellent condition despite the past owners not washing the rug for many years, if at all. This happens to many rugs. The wash will significantly raise the value, or lower the ending value.

 5 points - Rugs in this group have an even pile height slightly above a 1/4 inch. Their may be some minor repairs needed. End-stopping may have taken away some of the sub borders or border guards. 

 4 points - Pile of rug remains even and between 1/8th and 1/4th of an inch. No stains are present, that cannot be removed. 

 3 points - Pile less than 1/8th inch high. Foundation is starting to show in several places. No serious stains are present. The oriental rug may be restored at considerable expense. The rug may not be placed in a high traffic area.

 1 point - This rug needs major repairs. Part of the ends or sides of the rug are lost. Stains are permanent. Major re-knotting may be needed.

 0 points - Rug is cracking. or is beyond repair, to return any kind of value. This situation comes at you more quickly the lower the quality of rug.


Demand & Availability


10 points - Rare antique oriental rug

 8 points - Semi-rare antique oriental rug

 7 points - Old rug not being produced in any real quantity

 6 points - Old rug still produced, and specialized "reproductions" of antiques  

 5 points - New high quality oriental rug not being produced in any real quantity

 4 points - High quality rugs still being produced

 3 points - Good quality rugs still being produced

 2 points - Average quality rugs being produced 

 1 point - Bazaar quality rugs being produced 

 0 points - Low-end mass produced rugs


Summary of Value Points

Adding all the value numbers for each category will give you a sum total. If you multiply that sum total by our "CMF-- Commodity Multiplying Factor" for each rug, you will arrive at a normal acceptable retail price point for a particular rug. Dealers may charge much more, or less for any particular rug. That is their option. It is your option to be informed an educated on such when you purchase. Oriental rugs are commodities subject to supply and demand. The "CMF" will change constantly within the rug markets of the world. An Oriental Rug Broker is always abreast of these changes in supply, demand, and associated price. The retail buyer is not. This formula is to be used as a guideline for determining rug quality and value, but like any present formula, it is subject to adjustments for market conditions. If you want to know general retail prices right at this moment, you have two choices. You may "trust" your local dealer, or rely on an Oriental Rug Broker who not only knows what a rug should retail for, but also the wholesale cost. We will try to list a good cross section of oriental rugs in our CMF Listing. We will try to place many well known rugs in the list. The CMF changes constantly during the year, based on supply, demand, interior design trends, politics, and the cost of producing the rugs! The few brokers out there, have an internal history with rugs including a vast array of present knowledge. Oriental Rug brokers do not need to rely on these formulas, as we work the oriental rug market every day. Very few brokers take the time to explain and teach about rug quality, and why a prices is.....what it is!!!! From our formula, "clients" may begin to understand rug valuations, and more easily identify inequities in the market. This leads to buying rugs at great prices due to the somewhat limited fluidity in the rug markets. Long shipping times, remote regions, and political unrest, all contribute to this market not always reacting "in sink"! We have randomly selected several rugs, providing a total value for each particular rug, to give clients a general overview of many of the oriental rugs in the marketplace today. At then end of the list, we will make some comments on the current market, and how you may benefit from such inequities. Remember each rug is different, even those within the same type!


"CMF" - Commodity Multiplying Factor

Rug Type                                         Points            CMF         Retail Price*


90 line carved                                                   102                      .1961                $ 20.00

160 line Sino-Persian                                       179                      .2877                   51.50

230 line Sino-Persian                                       230                      .3690                   85.00


16/18 Pak/Persian (seven qualities)           240                       .3583                  86.00

11/20 Bokhara                                                 162                       .2160                  35.00


20/20 Indo-Persian                                         280                      .4107                 115.00

14/70 Indo-Persian                                         244                      .3525                   86.00

12/60 Indo-Persian                                         207                      .2899                   60.00

9/60 Indo-Persian                                           150                      .2533                   38.00

Jaipur 9/9                                                         127                      .2519                   32.00


70 Knot Art Deco or Traditional                   139                      .2878                   40.00

Persian (Iran)

Heriz (city workshop/good quality)          126                      .2540                   32.00

Qum- silk-450 knots                                      278                      .8992                 250.00

Qum- kurk (lamb's) wool                             259                      .5792                 150.00

Isfahan- 650 knots                                          311                      .7234                 225.00

Tabriz- 50 raj                                                   261                      .3488                  90.00

Bijar                                                                  255                      .2941                  75.00

Gorovan (low quality Heriz)                         86                       .2209                  19.00

Heriz (pre-1945, very good quality)           162                      .4198                   68.00

Zenjan (poor man's Bijar)                             186                      .2473                   46.00

Hamadan- Bazaar quality                            124                      .1532                   19.00

Nain- 650 knots, silk inlaid                          319                     .7532                  240.00

Antique Heriz/Serapi                                  249                     .9036                  225.00

Meshed (Bazaar-commercial quality)       148                      .1622                   24.00

Kashan (Bazaar-commercial quality)        148                      .1757                   26.00

Painted Sarouk- pre 1940's                          227                      .7048                  160.00


Baluchi- pre-war                                          135                      .2666                    36.00

Baluch- post-war                                          135                      .1259                    17.00

Chobi- veg. dyed 9/9                                  129                      .3255                    42.00

Turkoman (Mauri) fine                               199                      .2261                    45.00


(*) The retail prices shown are based on the average mark-up in the oriental rug industry. The range retailers charge varies between 60-300%. GOB's (Going out of business sales) inflate their prices often more than 1000%. It is very expensive for a retailer to place millions of dollars of oriental rug inventory on the floor. Retailers pay rent, insurance, utilities, advertising, employees, benefits, transportation, and numerous other monthly items. Retailers should be allowed to charge a reasonable profit to cover these expenses. If you are paying substantially less than average retail, there is a reason! Often the retailers reason for such a price reduction has nothing to do with what reason the retailer gives. Often, it has more to do with the rug itself. The buyer is armed with little or no knowledge, and often is taken advantage of under these circumstances. At Oriental Rug Merchant, we pride ourselves in providing you with the knowledge to understand and communicate your needs in this highly specialized industry. Remember, "retail prices and the CMF" are constantly changing. The above listing is only a general guideline, and not to be construed as what price you should pay. 

As to the list above, here a a few mental notes about today's oriental rug market. 


The price of the Bijar rug has doubled in the last year! Yet their price is still less than an Indo-Persian copy of the same quality!


Do to the limited demand for "true" fine Turkoman rugs, their price is about half what it should be. On top of that, the political unrest in the area has caused severe supply problems. If you can find a quality Turkoman at the right price, it will be a great value.


Quality Heriz's "after" 1945 may still be found at a really low price. Just use your rug for 10-20 years and watch it jump into the next price bracket, or give it to your kids, and they can watch it jump into those "antique prices".


If you compare the same quality rugs from India and Pakistan, you almost always get an added bonus when you buy India. The rug from India usually lasts two to three times longer!!!


Many soft wool Sino-Persian rugs command about the same price as their Indian and Pakistan counterparts. These rugs wear even less than the close clipped Pak-Persians! These oriental rugs are over priced.


Want to find a steal? Look for a Gorovan (Heriz style) that has good wool, and a palatable color blend. In the wholesale market, you may only pay $1-2.00 more per square foot at wholesale. It may take you all day to find one in the stacks, but it is worth it!


Contact us

Oriental Rug Merchant

1115 Wheaton Circle N.E.

Massillon, Ohio 44646

tele/fax: (330) 834-0425

e-mail: geoffrey_uhle@sbcglobal.net