Deciding to buy a real silk rug can be an exciting experience, whether you're buying it for yourself or someone else as a gift. Silk rugs are gorgeous, and not only do they look elegant, but they also feel great under your feet. However, if you're on the hunt for an authentic silk rug, there are some things you need to know. It will help you avoid purchasing an art silk rug instead of an authentic one. If you're not sure how to identify an authentic silk rug or if you already own one and want to verify its authenticity, we can help!
What Is an Art Silk Rug
An art silk rug is just a synthetic rug created with a silky texture. Art silk isn't officially used by any industry group or governing body, so it can refer to different fiber types depending on who you ask. While some sources define it as synthetics designed and look like natural silk, others include all synthetics in their definition. Mercerized cotton rugs and Rayon rugs are the two most popular types of art silk rugs that closely resemble real silk rugs.
What is a Real Silk Rug
If you're considering purchasing silk rugs, you may be wondering whether to buy real silk or not. Silk rugs made from natural silk are more expensive than synthetic fibers. However, they are more durable and better at insulating your home because of their natural breathability. Genuine silk rugs are also often softer, smoother, and more luxurious to the touch than synthetic alternatives. It makes them an excellent investment in quality that people won’t regret.
How Real Silk is Produced
If you're a lover of beautiful textiles, you might be surprised to learn that much of what we consider silk isn't made from silk. The term silk is thrown around loosely these days, particularly regarding rugs. But genuine silk is different from the types of materials more commonly in use today.
Unlike synthetic silk, natural silk rug is made from cocoons harvested by hand. Many countries worldwide, including China, Japan, India, Turkey, and Italy produce natural silk. While production methods vary between these nations, silkworm eggs typically begin their life cycle inside a colorful package known as a silkworm case. Around 150 eggs occupy each one of these pockets. Later on, these eggs hatch into tiny caterpillars that feed on mulberry leaves for about three weeks.
Types of Silk
There are two types of silk depending upon their cultivation methods:
1. Wild silk
Wild silk comes from silkworms that live in the wild and feed on various trees. Weavers collect wild silk cocoons after the silkworms turn into moths and escape by making a hole in the cocoons. The silk filaments obtained from these broken cocoons are varying lengths instead of one long filament. So, weavers tie these smaller silk filaments together to get a long thread that can be used in fabric making. It gives weaker, uneven, and lower quality silk than cultivated silk. However, wild silk is still better than art silk as it has natural silk properties.
2. Cultivated silk
Cultivated silk comes from silkworms that are bred and reared in captivity on a special diet to make the production of silk smoother and superior to wild silk. The cocoons, along with the silkworms, are boiled to obtain one long silk thread before the worms can break out from the cocoons. Cultivated silk has perfect luster and smoothness, which gives it its luxurious quality.
Cultivated silks tend to be more expensive than wild silks, but they're also typically more robust. So some manufacturers create hybrid fibers that combine both types. It provides a middle ground for consumers who want to purchase rugs with natural origins without paying a premium.
Why are Real Silk Rugs superior to Art Silk Rugs?
On a global scale, silk is easily one of the most luxurious materials. Also, there isn't a more stunning floor adornment if you can afford a genuine silk rug. On the other hand, art silk rugs are synthetic and cheaper rugs. Art silks resemble silk rugs, but the quality is nowhere near authentic silk rugs.
These two types of rugs have different compositions, different strengths and weaknesses, and different aesthetics that appeal to specific tastes and preferences. Let's compare natural silk rugs with art silk rugs to help you decide which type of rug will work best in your home.
Though it's not always easy to discern, some differences exist between art silk rugs and genuine silk rugs. The quality of the fabric is one of them. Art silk comprises several polyester fibers to resemble silk but with a lower price tag. Meanwhile, real silk rugs employ only natural silk fibers, with no addition of synthetic materials.
A genuine silk rug will be far more durable than a cheap, machine-made art silk rug. An art silk rug that costs less than $50 might only last 2 to 5 years, while a real silk rug can last 20 to 50 years (and counting). The main reason for this disparity is that genuine silk rugs are handmade with high-quality and strong silk thread using traditional weaving techniques.
Real silk rugs are hypoallergenic, so they’re great for those with allergies. Natural silk rugs don't shed, so they don't create any breathing problems and bad air quality. However, art silk rugs, especially Rayon rugs, shed a lot, and they are not suitable for a household with people having allergies. Also, some people have adverse reactions to allergens in dyes used in art silk rugs. With natural silk rugs, you can be confident that no synthetic or petrochemical dyes are used.
How to Identify Real Silk Rugs
It's challenging for first-time buyers to differentiate between real silk rugs and art silk rugs. So, rug vendors can easily pass off art silk rugs for authentic silk rugs. It takes only a little effort to convince you to buy a synthetic silk rug for the price of a real silk rug. Here are some sure-shot ways to tell if the rug you are buying is real or fake silk:
For any prospective silk persian rug buyer, a burn test is essential. To perform it: try burning some strands of your rug. Don't forget to ask the vendor's permission before performing this test, as many won't allow this practice. If it's natural silk, you won't be able to light it on fire (it will fizzle out quickly). Also, it will form a stiff but crumbly black knot at the end of the burnt fiber and will smell like burning hairs. On the contrary, art silk or synthetic silk would burn readily and smell like burnt paper with white ash and chalky texture. It’s a foolproof method for determining whether your item uses natural fibers.
If a vendor doesn't let you do a burn test, this test is the next in line. The rub test doesn't damage the rug so you can perform it without any concern. To accomplish this test, place a small piece of silk (the shag pile) between your index finger and thumb. Rub back and forth vigorously several times. The rug likely contains natural silk if you feel a certain amount of friction and feel hot to touch. However, if you don't feel any friction and there’s no heat, it is more than likely an art silk rug.
ALRUG – Online Shop to Buying a Top Quality Real Silk Rug
Many buyers adore silk rugs for their beautiful designs and high quality. However, these buyers must understand that they have to select their rugs carefully before buying them. Since you will be spending a lot of money on these rugs, you must ensure they are top quality and you can use them as family heirlooms for generations.
Several characteristics of real silk rugs separate them from art silk rugs. Knowing these differences will help you determine whether or not a rug is a genuine silk or an imitation. If you have any doubts about the authenticity, it’s always best to get a second opinion from a trusted source before making any final decisions. At ALRUG, we have real silk rugs that will make your home beautiful and save you from buying cheap knock-offs passed on as real silk rugs.