• Do some research, preferably before you leave home (check out some of the books reviewed).
  • Avoid buying in the first shop you visit, and look around several. You can always go back – preferably the next day, when you’ve had time to think about it.
  • Don’t be embarrassed at how many carpets the dealer is laying out for you – that’s his (or usually his lowly assistant’s) job.
  • Ask as many questions as you can – this will test the dealer’s worth, and could give you some interesting historical background should you make a purchase.
  • Check the pieces for flaws, marks and the density of weave – hand-woven wool is preferable to machine as it is stronger and the rug will last for longer.
  • Natural dyes such as tobacco and saffron are the most highly prized and less likely to fade. You should be able to tell by opening up a section of the pile with your fingers. If the tint at the bottom of the pile is different to that at the top it is a chemical dye.
  • Even in the most reputable shop bargaining is essential. Whatever you do, don’t engage in the process if you’ve no intention of buying.
  • You’ll probably get a better deal for cash – this will also help overcome the temptation to credit-card splurge.
  • Most important of all, only buy the piece if you really like it and are sure it’ll look the part back home – any other considerations such as future appreciation are mere distractions.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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