Buying a Fine Handmade Rug
Most Persian and Oriental rugs are made of wool, but many beautiful designs can be found in authentic, hand-made rugs woven out of silk.
Silk Persian and Oriental rugs are just as beautiful as those made of wool. Their designs are just as intricate and are full of meaning. In fact, silk rugs tend to have an even higher knot count, resulting in crisp, clean designs with a high level of detail and beautiful sheen.
One small caveat: silk rugs tend to be more delicate than wool rugs. They will need extra care and attention.
You also want to be sure you are purchasing a rug that’s made of real silk. These rugs can also be very beautiful and if you find an artificial silk rug that you love and you wish to purchase it, do so. But do so knowing that it’s not made of real silk. Many “silk” rugs sold actually are woven of artificial fibers. Viscose silk is referred to as “art silk” by many dealers, and an inexperienced shopper usually has no idea “art silk” means artificial, or fake silk.
Most artificial silk rugs tend to be those either sold in or coming from those regions that create both real and artificial silk rugs, such as India, Turkey and sometimes Pakistan. An artificial rug never comes from Iran (where Persian rugs originated).
A real Persian or Oriental silk rug is one with its fabric/threads coming from the cocoon of the silk worm. To harvest their fiber, the cocoons are boiled or heated (to kill the worms) and then are unwound into exceedingly slender, single fibers, which are then spun into silk yarn/threads.
The fibers, when dyed, become saturated with rich colors and have an almost translucent look to them.
Although silk is not as sturdy as wool, it is by no means weak. Silk has a high tensile strength – stronger than nylon – and experts estimate that if a single fiber the diameter of a pencil were to be made, it would be able to lift a jumbo jet. Despite this, silk rugs last longer and maintain their beauty better when they are placed in low foot traffic areas.
How can you tell if your rug is real silk? Take a close look at the rug, making sure it has more than 200 knots per square inch – 500 or more knots is best. It should be clipped closely and have real silk fringe that obviously is an extension of the rug’s fabric (not sewn on).
Artificial silk rugs often have no more than 250 knots per square inch and some even have fewer than 150 knots per square inch. Their fringe also is often made of cotton.
To dig deeper, rub the pile of the rug between your palms. Real silk should feel warm; artificial fibers will stay cool.
One of the best ways to test for silk is to clip a portion of the rug’s fringe and light it with a match. If not real silk, the fringe’s ash probably will turn to powder and be smooth and emit a smell like burned paper.
The ash of a real silk rug’s fringe will turn flaky and black. It also should smell something like burning hair.
If you have questions about buying a fine, handmade rug, call the experts at Behnam Rugs at 972-733-0400.