Chess is a game that has been played for centuries, with its roots dating back to ancient India. It is a game of strategy and intellect, with players using their minds to outsmart their opponents.
Chess has also evolved into a popular hobby for collectors, with numerous chess sets available in a variety of styles and materials. Some of these sets, however, stand out not only for their beauty and craftsmanship but also for their exorbitant price tags.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the top ten most expensive chess sets in the world, each of which represents a unique piece of art and history.
10. The German Carved Ivory Animalier Chess Set
Price – $298,800
The German Carved Ivory Animalier Chess Set is a rare and unique work of art that has captured the attention of collectors and art enthusiasts worldwide. This exquisite chess set is made entirely of ivory and features intricately carved animal figures representing each of the chess pieces.
The set was crafted around 1870 in which attention to detail was given the utmost attention. The level of detail and craftsmanship is extraordinary, with each piece featuring intricate textures.
The animal figures that make up the chess pieces are both whimsical and realistic. There are kings and queens with crowns and robes. The bishops have croziers and miters and the knights have helmets, shields, swords, and more details which boast its attention to detail. The owls have a deep brown shade.
This chess piece has a satinwood casket with a magnificent lock made of brass. Each figurine in this set fits into the chess box with the help of a discrete brass pin and stands on an incorporated square portion with molded bottoms.
Therefore this is a one-of-a-kind chess set that shows the best example of attention to detail.
9. Marcel Duchamp Pocket Chess Set
Price – $423,000
The Marcel Duchamp Pocket Chess Set is a unique and iconic work of art created by one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
This chess set, designed by Marcel Duchamp is a miniature masterpiece that was intended to be carried around in the pocket and used for impromptu chess games. This chess set has pockets in it that hold all the pieces which are engraved on a leather board.
The set’s price tag of $423,000 reflects its exceptional craftsmanship, unique design, and artistic value.
What makes the Marcel Duchamp Pocket Chess Set so valuable is its historical significance and artistic value. Duchamp, known for his innovative and provocative works of art, was fascinated by chess and often incorporated it into his work. Moreover, the chess set contains the signature and date by Marcel Duchamp.
Its miniature size, unique design, and connection to one of the most important artists of the 20th century make it a true collector’s item that will continue to appreciate over time. Whether it’s for display or the actual gameplay, this chess set is a remarkable example of the intersection of art and chess and a testament to Duchamp’s enduring legacy.
8. Royal Diamond Chess Set
Price – $501,128
The Royal Diamond Chess Set is a stunning work of art and luxury, fit for royalty. This was created by Charles Hollander a renowned company of luxurious goods. This exquisite set features intricately carved chess pieces made from white gold and encrusted with black and white diamonds.
The designer behind this is Bernard Maquin and it took about 4500 hours to make and handcraft this chess set. Therefore its price of $501,128 is no surprise.
This chess set is made of 14-carat white gold with an additional 9,900 black and white diamonds. Therefore the total weight of the diamonds is 18609 carats. Also, the designer paid great attention to the design and everything is handmade.
7. The Christian I von Münch Chess Set
Price – $552,570
The Christian I von Münch Chess Set is a masterpiece of art and history. This chess set was made around 1705-1709 and is adorned with precious items. This chess set’s top is made up of squares that alternate between ivory and tortoiseshell and are stunningly inlaid with silver stars and scrolls.
Tortoiseshell veneer and silver foil trim are present on the board’s sides. Each chess piece is protected by two drawers on the board, which feature beautiful graphics of warriors engaged in battle on elephants and horses.
The set has since been cherished by collectors of fine art and chess enthusiasts. The fact that it has survived the centuries and remained in excellent condition is a testament to the exceptional craftsmanship and durability of the piece.
This chess set comes with authenticity and luxury. It is made up of ebony, ivory, silver, and tortoise shell, and all of these substances are brought together in harmony. Also, the bishop holds a piece of paper where the initial of the sculptor is engraved.
Therefore, its exquisite design and historical significance make it a unique and valuable addition to any collection.
6. Pagoda Figurines Chess Set
Price – $696,260
The Pagoda Figurines Chess Set is an extraordinary work of art and a remarkable tribute to the oriental origin of this game. Each chess piece is a unique work of art, and the pieces represent mythological creatures, while the king and queen are pagoda figurines. It comes with a price tag of $696,260, thereby cementing its position as one of the most expensive chess sets in the world.
The Pagoda Figurines Chess set is composed of numerous precious substances. Materials including horn, ivory, tortoiseshell, gilding, silver gilt, porcelain, pearl, padouk, and ebony are used to make the board and the figurines.
Brass, copper, mother of pearl, mounted pewter inlaid with silver and silver gilt, and stained ivory are all present on the chessboard. Panels of Chinese paintings, exotic animals, and well-known legendary creatures may be seen on the set.
In addition, this set includes porcelain Pagoda figures of the king and queen and a velvet-lined drawer. The black figurines feature blackamoor busts in jet colours, while the bishops have aventurine glass with silver-gilt mounts and tortoiseshell bases. The silver crowns on the white pair of figures are embellished with seed and imitation pearls.
Therefore, all of the things it is made of and the history it represents are enough to make it one of the most expensive chess sets in the world.
5. J. Grahl Chess Set
Price – $701,580
The J. Grahl Chess Set is an extraordinary masterpiece of art and luxury. Each chess piece of this chess set is a unique work of art. This was designed by Jim Grahl for the Cole family. This exquisite set features intricately carved chess pieces made from pure gold and silver. This magnificent piece of chess set has a price tag of $701,580.
The aesthetics of Europe in the fourteenth century were intended to be reflected in the works. The statues were created by Grahl using a process known as the “lost wax method,” which allowed him to meticulously construct each component individually.
The chessboard itself is also a remarkable work of art, made from cherry and ebony wood, and with sterling silver inlays. The combination of rare and valuable materials gives the set a unique and luxurious appearance.
The J. Grahl Chess Set is expensive because of the inclusion of gold and silver in its build. All the chess sets are made of solid 14-carat gold and silver, therefore, the total weight reaches up to 450 grams. Additionally, the chess board is composed of cherry and ebony wood with sterling silver. So altogether this chess set’s look is a flawless work of art.
There is also a replica of this chess set which is available at a lower price. So, start digging.
4. Art of War Chess Set
Price – $751,693
The Art of War Chess Set is a remarkable masterpiece of art and history. This chess set was designed by Victor F. Scharstein and he has perfectly captured the essence of Art of War in this Chess set. This exquisite set is a tribute to the famous Chinese military treatise, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.
The chess pieces themselves are meticulously crafted from gold. Moreover, it includes precious stones such as diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. Each piece represents a different aspect of warfare and looks dazzling. The chessboard is also a work of art. So with all this, this chess set fetched a price of $751,693 and might have even gone higher.
This chess set is immaculate and everything about it looks exquisite and speaks luxury. The pieces are made of rhodium and gold. Additionally, every piece has precious stones such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.
The board is made of ebony. The feet of this chess set are adorned with gold as well. Two of the feet have white gold with rubies and the other two are made of gold along with diamonds.
Another striking feature of this chess set is the words “Art of War” written in Chinese with 14-carat gold. Therefore, all of this makes this chess set a rare and expensive one. No wonder it fetched such a high price.
This chess set is a testament to the enduring appeal of Sun Tzu’s philosophy, as well as the endless creativity and skill of the world’s finest artisans. Its exquisite design and historic significance make it a unique and valuable addition to any collection.
3. Jewel Royale Chess Set
Price – $1.2 Million
The Jewel Royale Chess Set is a true masterpiece of art and luxury. Created by the collaboration between the companies Boodles and Jewel Royale. This is an intricately designed chess set that will keep every observer in awe.
The Jewel Royale Chess Set as its name suggests is made of gold and precious stones such as rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, and pearls. Each chess piece is a unique work of art and every piece has gotten equal attention to detail.
There were rumors that the king figure of this chess set was to cost $132,008 with the inclusion of gold and precious stones. Therefore the total cost of this chess set would round up to $9.6 million. Although, Boodles gave a say that this chess set is available for $1.2 Million.
This luxurious chess set is adorned with gold and precious stones such as rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, and pearls.
Therefore, it is bound to be expensive. A single king piece of this chess set is made of 18-carat gold and has rubies in it. With a single piece having such adornments, its price is given to be high. Also, the design of the chess pieces is unique and gives a unique experience to the players.
The Jewel Royale Chess Set is not only a functional game but also a true investment. Its high price tag of $1.2 million reflects the exceptional craftsmanship, rare materials, and sheer luxury and exclusivity of the piece. It is a testament to the timeless appeal of chess, as well as the endless creativity and skill of the world’s finest artisans.
2. The Battle of Issus Chess Set
Price – $1.9 million
The Battle of Issus Chess Set is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and history. This exquisite set is a recreation of the ancient Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and King Darius III in 333 BC.
It comes with a value of $1.9 million making it one of the most expensive chess sets in the world. This chess set took about 14,000 hours to craft and build.
The chess pieces are made of gold pieces and encrusted with several semi-precious stones and enamel. Each piece is intricately detailed, with the pawns representing soldiers, the knights depicting horsemen, the bishops portraying elephants, the rooks embodying siege towers, and the kings representing Alexander and Darius, respectively.
The Battle of Issus Chess Set is a work of art and it is one of the most expensive sets is a given. The chess pieces are made of 14-carat gold with enamel and semi-precious stones. Also, the details with which the pieces are made are sure to elevate the chess match played between players.
Along with the stones in the pieces, the chess set is composed of 320 grams of pearls, turquoise, rose quartz, and enamel. The board itself is made up of pink rhodonite and green malachite squares. Therefore, with all this together, this chess set looks flawless and immaculate.
The Battle of Issus Chess Set is not only a beautiful work of art but also a piece of history. Its high price tag of $1.9 million reflects the exceptional craftsmanship, rare materials, and historic significance of the piece.
It is a testament to the timeless appeal of chess, as well as the endless creativity and skill of the world’s finest artisans. While it may be beyond the reach of most of us, it serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of this ancient game.
1. Pearl Royale Chess Set
Price – $4 million
The Pearl Royale Chess Set is one of the most luxurious and the most expensive chess set in existence with a cost of – $4 million. It is beautifully composed of gold, diamonds, sapphires, and South sea pearls.
This stunning set is the creation of renowned artist Colin Burn and each piece stands out with its unique and extravagant details. This exquisite masterpiece is crafted with 18-carat gold and encrusted with 513 carats of GIA-certified diamonds. Additionally, it is built with South sea pearls and Ceylon Blue sapphires.
More to its expensive and luxurious adornments, it has magnificent detailing on every piece and further it is all handcrafted. Made with the Staunton style in mind the artist Colin Burn made this chess set entirely for chess enthusiasts who adore luxury along with the thrilling experience of this strategic masterpiece. The player can feel the grace with which every piece glides over the board.
There is no refuting the high value of the Pearl Royale Chess Set. It is adorned with 513 carats of diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and 18 carats of gold, which is mostly the reason for its high price.
Additionally, the details the artist has made this chess set with are impeccable and make this chess set incomparable. Its high price is a reflection of the exquisite craftsmanship, rare materials, sheer luxury, and exclusivity of the piece.
Therefore, it is worthy of its price tag of $ 4 million. While it may be out of reach for most of us, it serves as a testament to the endless creativity and skill of the world’s finest artisans.
In conclusion, chess is not just a game, but a work of art that has captured the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts around the world. The Top Ten Most Expensive Chess Sets showcase the skill, creativity, and imagination of their respective makers, as well as the rich history and culture behind the game of chess.
From the intricate pearl work of the Pearl Royale Chess Set to the whimsical animal carvings of The German Carved Ivory Animalier Chess Set, each set on this list is a testament to the ingenuity of their creators. While some may argue that the price tag is exorbitant, it is a testament to the rarity, craftsmanship, and historical significance of these pieces.
Whether you are a serious collector or just an enthusiast, the Top Ten Most Expensive Chess Sets offer a glimpse into the world of high-end chess sets and the passion that goes into creating them. While most of us may never own one of these sets, we can still appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into their creation and the beauty they bring to the game of chess.