The two materials used to make oriental rugs are wool and silk. The rugs made from wool are not as treasured as those made from silk but they last longer.
The popular replica oriental rugs in the market today are made from artificial silk. The artificial silk is made by dissolving cellulose inside a thick yellow substance known as viscose. The viscose is then passed through a chemical bath through tiny holes to make long filaments and then it is wound into a thread. The artificial silk rugs do not last because of the quality of the fabric and it quickly loses its luster shine fast. The material is not as durable as wool.
Look at the Rug Closely
Before you buy an Oriental rug, look closely at its weaving. The weaving should be tight. It should have more than 200 knots per square meter. You can even find some with up to 500 knots or more. The weaving must be particularly detailed, closely clipped and it must be made with an authentic silk fringe which is meant as an extension of the rug design. It shouldn’t be seen on the rug or at the end of the rug. You will notice that the artificial silk oriental rugs usually come with medium weaves which are normally less than 250 knots per square inches and there are also some that come with even less than 150 knots per square inch. These replica rugs have cotton fringes but you know the original when you see a silk rug with real silk fringe.
How to Field Test an Oriental Rug
These are the three tests you can use to distinguish a fake from a real Oriental rug. These tests will require you to damage part of the rug. You will need to seek the permission of the seller before you can take any of the tests. You should only test rugs you know you are going to buy eventually if it is authentic. Sellers that know they have an authentic product will not refuse and will have to fear to accommodate your requests. If the seller refuses, then there is a possible chance that they have something to hide.
If you rub the pile of silk on your palm, you can tell if it is real silk or artificial. The original Oriental rugs feel warm while artificial silk will be cool on the hands.
You can pull off a small piece of the fringe for the burning test. If the ash produced is smooth and it smells like burning paper, then it is artificial silk. Oriental rugs will have flaky black ash and smell like burning hair.
By mixing copper sulfate with glycerine and caustic soda until you get a clear liquid, you can dissolve the piece of silk in the solution. Natural silk will dissolve real silk but if other materials like cotton, rayon or nylon are inserted, nothing will happen