Buying a Vintage Persian Rug or Kilim

For centuries, rug traders, enthusiasts and collectors have been travelling the world in search of excellent examples of vintage rugs & kilims to add to their collections. More recently, these vintage pieces have become desirable to the astute home decorator who is looking to add a sense of culture and comfort to a setting (...and we think this is great!).

Vintage rugs share the same unique and soulful character as wine. Much like good wine, certain rugs do get better with age. The process of a 'vintage transition' begins to occur over a period of about 10 to 20 years when the vivid dyes used in the original weaving start to mellow and mature. The beautiful toning of vintage pieces can never be properly reproduced in modern weaves using new dyes.

Here are our top three tips to consider when buying a vintage rug or kilim:

  • Be wary of buying a rug which is heavily worn or faded on one side or in specific patches. In our experience, this can be a giveaway that the rug has not been cared for properly. Wear & colour fading in vintage pieces is acceptable in old rugs as long as it is evenly spread throughout the pile.
  • Today's weavers have been known to use special techniques (tea & acid washes, etc) to try and give a new rug an old appearance. One way to check if a rug is genuinely old is to separate the pile with your fingers and observe the colour consistency of a strand in a pile. In most cases, the colour of strands in vintage rugs will fade-out evenly towards the top of the pile. The colour of the dye will be softer on the surface of the strand and fade toward a darker toning nearer to the foundation - this is a result of the colours maturing slowly over time. Rugs which are made to look old have a light surface and an abruptly darker inner without any uniform fade-out. This can be a tricky technique to get your head around without actually seeing in practice, so please give us a buzz if you would like a further explanation.
  • Buy the rug, not the story. The majority of vintage rugs should not command a high price premium over their modern equivalents. Sure, rugs produced during different times, in specific areas & by certain weavers may be especially valuable - but to verify this information requires a professional appraisal. Before purchasing an investment quality vintage piece, I recommend getting advice from a reputable dealer or an assessment from a valuer.

Image (a) - Pictured above, one of our 1960s Persian Isfahan rugs which have been intricately woven on a silk foundation. This piece features a strong abrash, the colours have oxidised at different rates over time resulting in a stunning and unique textured toning.

Persian Rug Co. stocks a large range of vintage rugs and kilims. Please click here to view our online collection.

If you have any questions, or have a vintage piece that you would like to have professionally appraised, please get in touch at: