Buying an authentic Persian rug is a bright, colourful and stylish way to brighten up your room, whilst also adding a slightly unusual, exotic touch. A genuine, unique, handmade rug will be very hardwearing and should last for years and years, so even though it may have a slightly higher cost than a generic, mass produced, machine-made piece from the carpet shop, it should last far longer and be a worthwhile investment. However, a United States embargo on Iranian products as of September 2010, prohibiting the import of all Iranian products into America, including rugs, pistachio nuts and caviar has made it harder to buy authentic products. Whilst it is entirely legal to trade in rugs that are already in the country, it is illegal to import new pieces into the United States. This has led to the proliferation of fake rugs which are not real “Persian” pieces. It is therefore very important to be able to determine whether or not the piece you are planning on purchasing is an authentic Persian rug.
Many dealers will offer their rugs and carpets with certificates of authenticity. Whilst this is a good start, and you should never purchase a rug without one, a certificate does not provide conclusive proof about the authenticity of the rug. If a seller is unscrupulous enough to sell you a fake Persian rug, they are probably deceitful enough to try and fake a certificate of authenticity. Real certificates will list the origin, size, age, price and date of purchase of the rug; if the facts on the certificate do not agree fully with the details of the item being purchased then the certificate could be a fake. This certificate is also useful for insurance purposes.
Always look at the back of the rug first, when you are trying to determine its authenticity. You should be able to visibly see the pattern of the rug from the back of the rug as well as from the front, but it should be obvious as to which side is which. On closer inspection you should be able to notice slight imperfections: these are actually a good sign. Because all authentic Persian rugs are handmade, they should have slight imperfections because of the nature of the weaving process. If the rug seems too perfect, it is likely to be a machine-made fake.
Check the tassels on the rug. Tassels are another natural part of the weaving process, so they should be an integrated part of the rug and made from the same material as the main body of the piece. If the tassels are obviously glued on or do not seem to be a proper part of the rug, then the rug is probably fake.
Try folding or creasing the rug: an authentic Persian rug should not be able to hold a crease, and if your rug is able to, then it is probably not an authentic piece. A real item will always lay back flat again with ease after being rolled or bent.