Are Oriental Rugs a Good Investment?

We are asked every day what a particular rug will be worth in the future. In other words, is it a good investment? Who knows? Its beauty, condition and rarity will determine that. But no one can predict shifting tastes or market conditions. This is a fashion business like any other and the bright shining stars of this year could be campy rejects to a future generation.

In the early 1950’s well-heeled American consumers bought large floral pastel Persian Kirmans for their living rooms. They loved the look and were rightly advised by rug dealers that they were buying quality that would last. Therefore they had good reason to believe that these rugs had intrinsic value which would still be there when they were ready to sell 30 or 40 years hence.

But when those buyers retired en mass in the 80’s and 90’s, many moved to condominiums with smaller rooms and all those carpets hit the market at once. By then things had changed - taste for one and the size of the average living room for another. The quality of those rugs has proven to be as promised judging from their condition but beauty is a perception and it’s simply not there in the eyes of today’s buyers. Oh, there are a few folks who like the look and have rooms to accommodate their size but the supply exceeds the demand making it a buyers market.

So how do you choose an oriental rug?

Let your taste be your guide. Only buy what you love. The more pleasure you get from looking at that rug over the years, the better the investment. If, when the time comes for you to sell it, you get back what you paid or some multiple of that, consider yourself lucky. Its real value is the pleasure it gave you. Any financial appreciation is incidental and a bonus.

Don’t let yourself be sold a bill of goods! Tightly woven rugs with elaborate designs and numerous colors are not better. They simply cost more because they are more expensive to produce. The notion that an Isfahan or a Nain or a silk Hereke is a good investment because it is collectible is sheer nonsense. These rugs are subject to the same fluctuations in value as any others. If your taste leads you to these rugs, buy them with the understanding that you will probably not recoup your original investment when selling. They do not enjoy wide appeal and they are not rare. Silk is especially problematic because it doesn’t wear well and cannot be restored to its original condition by cleaning.

Rugs can look very different in your home from the way they look in the rug store due mainly to lighting, both natural and artificial. If it’s not convenient to try the rug at home before buying it, make sure that you can return it for a full refund within a reasonable amount of time [usually a week]. You’ll want to see the rug on both sunny and cloudy days and at night before deciding if it’s right for the space.