How do you place a value on a work of art that's always under foot?
Jacksonville Magazine's 904
Monday, August 9, 2010

Everything produced has a price. For most businesses, a price is usually the result of some fairly straightforward math. Expenses plus a markup for profit - in a nutshell, that's what your widget ought to cost. But when your products are all made by hand and may take years to finish, the math becomes a little less precise. In such cases, the price often comes down to what the customer is willing to pay.

"What I look for when I buy is quality and uniqueness," says Oriental rug dealer Hooshang Harvesf. "Even in a one-of-a-kind business, there are certain pieces that stand out."

Since 1977, Harvesf has been pricing and selling new and antique handmade rugs out of his Avondale shop. His new products come direct from far-flung locales including Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and India, though the Iranian native admits to an affinity for rugs from his homeland, adding that his working in the business was natural. "When you are born in Persia, the first thing you see as a baby are rugs," he says. Prior to coming to Jacksonville, he earned a doctorate in economics from the University of California, a background that no doubt has served him well in a business known for the art of negotiation.

For example, a 3 1/2-by-6-foot rug (pictured behind Harvesf) is valued at about $7,000. While that price may be used as something of guide, there are no absolutes in rugs. A final retail price will consider things such as its age, condition, who made it, and materials used (only silk, wool and cotton are acceptable). Add to that the number of knots per inch (300 to 1,000 is expected), the vibrancy of the colors, and the intricacy of the design. Even the city or region in which it was produced plays a large part in a rug's value.

"Good rugs come from many countries. The best of the best are Persian," Harvesf says. "A skilled craftsman can tie maybe 1,000 knots per hour. And that's someone who is very good. Not everyone can do it. So, you can see why it may take years to make just one." And why arriving at a value is no simple equation.