There are at least four factors that should be considered when evaluating a carpet.
First is color. Natural dyes produce wonderful saturated colors with all kinds of shading within a single color that give the carpet a unique character. This shading is called abrash and is recognized by collectors as an important attribute. The color is a feature with which you must feel comfortable.
Second is the design. The design has a number of elements such as use of space, detailing, motifs, clarity and balance. What you will want to look for is a harmony in the overall design. It is important to remember that the design has been created by a woman and represents her skill and creativity.
Third is craftsmanship. Craftsmanship includes the quality of the wool, character of the dye and skill of the weaver. The number of knots in a square inch/centimeter is not the sole criteria for craftsmanship. The knot count will vary with the type of carpet.
Fourth is the overall feeling. This is subjective to a certain extent, but if the carpet is beautiful in your eyes, then trust your instincts.
Carpets are handcrafted, handmade, incorporate age old motifs and represent the creation of a skilled weaving artist and, as such, can be considered art. The investment value of many carpets accrues over time. Some particular antique carpets have special attributes that make them sought after by collectors. On the whole, carpets will hold their value and have the potential to increase in value. Please see the Wall Street Journal article The Rug Market Takes Flight.
We recommend that you have your carpet cleaned by a professional oriental carpet cleaner. If you intend to wash the carpet yourself, here are the easy steps to follow:
Vacuum both sides of the carpet well
Test for color run by taking a damp clean cloth and gently wiping dyed areas. If color appears on the cloth, we recommend that you stop the process and take the carpet to a professional for cleaning.
Shampoo the carpet with cool water and a mild liquid soap. Use a soft brush and brush the pile firmly with a linear motion in the direction of the nap. Thoroughly wash the nap of the carpet.
The fringes of the carpet can be washed using the same soap solution. Thoroughly wet the fringe and brush away from the pile.
Rinse the carpet with running water.
Squeeze out excess water. A rubber window squeegee works well to remove the water. Squeegee the pile repeatedly in the direction of the nap until no more water can be forced out.
Lay the carpet flat to dry. When the pile nap feels dry, turn the carpet over. Make sure the carpet is completely dry before placing it on the floor for use.
If the carpet is a bit stiff when dry, lightly vacuum or gently brush the carpet's surface.