From shearing the raw wool to unrolling it on the the floor of your home, hand-made rugs touch many hands and hearts. Each touch affects the price.
Different breeds of sheep from different areas around the world produce wool of different characteristics. For example, the wool grown in southern Argentina makes excellent rugs. However, the wool has to be shipped to Asia where rugs are woven. Shipping is now a factor in the final product.
In the carding process, the wool is cleaned, disentangled and the fibers made to be parallel. When done by hand, a skilled carder can reject fibers that are irretrievable stained or kinked. Think great hairdresser.
Hand-carding affects the quality of the yarn.
Hand-spun yarn as opposed to machine-spun is more expensive, but in skilled hands, worth it.?
Silk adds sheen and elegance to a rug. Silk is expensive.
The so-called "faux silks," like viscose, can impart silk-like qualities without the added costs.?
Like any other manufacturing process, labor cost is a huge expense.
How can it affect the ultimate price?
Knot-density is certainly important. The more knots in the rug, the longer it's going to take to make.
Various countries have different wage scales.
The complexity of the rug's design can raise the price. Extra care must be paid to the pattern. Color changes take time. Plus more colors require more hand-dying.
Some rugs, like those with hi-lo piling (different levels) need skilled shearers to finish the rug.
Expense is an important factor in buying a rug, but by no account the only factor. Every rug has a potential home, no matter how much or how little it costs.
To illustrate let's divide rugs into four different categories of price.?
Hand-made But Just Barely
Faster weaving techniques characterize this tranche. Rugs may be hand-loomed, whereby a weaver will use a shuttle and pass it by hand through the warp threads.
Another low-skill, high-production technique is hand-tufting. An operator uses a tool to punch strands of wool into a stretched canvas. The resulting pile is held in place with scrim fabric glued to the back.
Since they are part of a production line, there is little or no variation possible in these techniques. No custom colors. The designs tend to be simpler. Any hint of a sheen will be viscose rather than silk.
This hand-shuttled rug has two colors and a repetitive pattern, making it relatively inexpensive.
Hand-knotted Level One
These rugs tend to have a lower knot count. However, knot-count rarely if ever figures into rug choices. Bigger knots offer a texture that may be exactly right for what the designer is trying to achieve.
Designs can be more complex than the production rugs above. They tend to be all wool. It would be unusual to have silk at this level although occasionally we see viscose.
Oushaks are prominent here. Note that at times oushaks have been enormously popular and experienced hefty price rises before the market adjusted.
Oushaks offer versatility at the lower end of the price range, often because lower knot counts allow for greater variety in the design.
Hand-knotted Level Two
Rugs in this branch will usually have higher knot counts and more complex design. You are likely to see silks and faux silks in these rugs.
It is also here that branded weavers, importers and manufacturers play a role in the price, pushing it higher, of course.
You can see that the design is complex, does not repeat, has more colors and displays a variety of detail combined with abstraction.
The Most Expensive
Every factor that adds value combine to make the most expensive rugs.??
The rug is 80 percent silk.
The wool is hand-carded and hand-spun.
Experienced and skilled dyers have take great care to match the color specs of the designer and use their skill to see that the colors remain as uniform as possible from one rug end of the rug to the other; from one rug to the next. The dye is most likely made from plants.
Knot density supports a complex design.
Expert shearers have created a high low pattern. The silk pile is higher than the underlying wool. Notice too how the gold yarn seems to be dabbled in as if improvised by the weaver.?Rugs like this require constant, expert, loving attention.