As a game, chess has captured the fascination and imagination of humans for centuries. The game, which is widely believed to have its roots in India, slowly spread across the world. While the spread was slow, it managed to fascinate people wherever it went. At the start, it had a lot of local variation and many aspects of it were all over the place. Persians made the first major change to the game. They utilized chess to teach military tactics to young rulers to be. Nobles also used to play the game on their most expensive chess set as a way to show off and enjoy military conquest without actually going to war.
The game then steadily made its way towards Europe. There, it once again garnered the attention of nobles. In the middle ages and throughout the renaissance chess came to be known as the King’s game. Here, they treated it as a hobby of the intellectuals. Only the rich and prosperous were seen playing the game on their most expensive chess sets.
Chess wasn’t limited to just this though. In that same time-period, chess also became a vehicle for class-separation. The church used chess in sermons on morality. Different chess pieces also came to represent different classes of people. Even human duties were decided according to the conventions of the game and appearance of the pieces. Some people who despised the haughty nobles enjoying their game on their most expensive chess sets branded the game as a waste of time. Even Islam had several problems with the game. They implemented a hundred-year ban on the game since it apparently encouraged gambling.
Still, none of that hurt the popularity of the game. If anything, it bolstered its existence even more. The modern iteration of the game was birthed in France. Fondly known as the Mad Queen’s game, it gave significant power to the Bishop and the Queen. In fact, no major changes have been done in the rules since the sixteenth century. The game also became widely accepted in this era. What used to utilize only the most expensive chess sets and the most valuable people’s time was now being used as a pastime by the common populace as well.
By this point, chess had become serious business. Gone were the days when it was a mere hobby. People had started to play it competitively on scales much bigger than before. Numerous competitions and tournaments were held to decide who was the best. Chess also had a large role in the advent of programs designed to defeat their human masters at games. After all, the very first sport which had its human emperor dethroned by the computer was chess. The best part? The computers didn’t even need those old-timey most expensive chess sets to show off.
But, like most things in the past, chess also came full circle. The rich of the new generation also started using chess as a way to convey how dignified they were. Alas! They didn’t have the most expensive chess sets used by the Kings of the past to flaunt. Most of the elaborate ones were lost to history.
Therefore, they went ahead and created new ones. The new generation of the most expensive chess sets was different from the ones of the post. While the past ones emphasized on the use of materials such as Ivory, exotic woods, etc. The modern successors of these elaborate chess sets utilize gold and other precious metals and gems to increase their value.
Now, you must be wondering just how many of these sets exist in the present day. Well, fret not! Just to satiate your curiosity, we have compiled this list of the most expensive chess sets that exist as of now. The candidates in this list are luxurious enough to satisfy even the most discerning eye.
So, without further ado, let’s begin our journey and find out more about the most expensive chess sets on this planet!
5. Carolingi XIV Chess Set
Like many beautiful things in the world, the fifth most expensive chess set too has been crafted by a highly skilled Italian. Mr. Piero Benzoni is the sculptor behind this immaculate creation. For this, he drew inspiration from the 9th century. Specifically, the battles that were fought between the Ottoman Turks and the Carolingians.
Every piece in this set comes dressed in period attire and comprises of fine gold and silver. The fifth most expensive chess set also has a Gothic appearance. The details on the handmade pieces are incredible as well. Instead of looking like boring old chess pieces, this set features pieces that look like actual kings, queens, knights, bishops, pawns, and rooks.
The chess table for the fifth most expensive chess set is special as well. This ornately detailed table is made of Onyx and lined with gold and silver. The whole affair looks quite beautiful and costs a pretty penny too. For a mere $113,575 you can get one of these to put on display. As was its intended purpose. However, if you plan to play with it, do remember to wear gloves. Please.
4. J. Grahl Chess Set
The fourth most expensive chess set in the world also draws inspiration from the past. This time the inspiration comes from 14th century Europe. The aesthetics of that time are quite well represented in this set. The maker of this set also utilized an old technique known as the lost wax method to create the individual pieces.
The lost wax technique allows the design to be much more detailed and complex. The smallest detail was paid attention to. The creator of the fourth most expensive chess set is named Jim Grahl. He created this chess set for the Cole family in 1972.
The fourth most expensive chess set is also one of the heaviest chess sets in the world. Every individual piece has been made from solid, 14-carat gold and silver. Combined together, they weigh almost half a kilo.
The board of the fourth most expensive chess set is special as well. It has been made from cherry and ebony wood and comes embedded with sterling silver. The whole affair also comes with a cover that is magical in its own right. Handmade glass and cherry wood are the materials that have been utilized in the cover’s creation.
Alas! Getting the original one is next to impossible. Therefore, you will have to make do with a replica of the fourth most expensive chess set if you wish to own something similar. Don’t think that the replica will come cheap though! At $450,000 you better start saving up now if you wish to experience it!
3. Royal Diamond Chess Set
The third most expensive chess set comes to us through the courtesy of Charles Hollander. It is a company that is well known for their one of a kind luxury offerings. The Royal Diamond Chess Set is as immaculate as their other creations. Even in this list studded with diamonds, this set holds its own quite well.
The one to design this was a French jeweler and artist Bernard Moquin. He spent over 4,500 hours in designing this piece of art. Then, he went ahead and handcrafted the whole thing to truly make it unique and luxurious to the utmost degree. The pieces of the third most expensive chess set are all made out of 14-karat white gold. A total of 9,900 black and white diamonds weighing about 186.09 carats have been used in the creation of this set.
The third most expensive chess set will set you back around half a million dollars. Though, the sheer amount of time that was invested in it, along with the exotic materials more than justifies its price.
2. Art of War Chess Set
The second most expensive chess set comes courtesy of Mr. Sun Tzu. Don’t be so surprised, it is not like he made it himself. No sir. Instead, this chess set draws inspiration from Sun Tzu’s legendary book The Art Of War.
Victor F. Scharstein was the one who came up with the second most expensive chess set. The chess figures are all inspired by Asians’ appearance. The set has an overall Asian theme. Every piece has been created by hand from solid gold and ebony wood. They have also been studded with precious stones like rubies, emerald, sapphires, and diamonds. The chess board itself has been constructed from ebony wood. Its legs, hinges, handle, and key are all carved out of gold and decorated with gems.
The second most expensive chess set managed to secure a bid of $750,000 at an auction. The creator, however, denied selling it for that amount since he felt it was more valuable. Bids have arrived from every corner of the earth but no one knows the true value of this one of a kind set.
1. Jewel Royale Chess Set
The most expensive chess set is quite intriguing. Especially because of its price. When it was announced, some wrong back of the envelope estimates led to it being valued at $10 million. This false price made rounds everywhere on the news and the internet. So much so that the maker of this set had to step in to clarify the real price.
The most expensive chess set is a result of a collaboration between Boodles and Jewel Royale. Boodles is a jewelry design company. To prove its existence, the king was set free in the wild. However, this became the reason for the absurd valuation of this set. The king piece was made out of 18 karat gold and was decorated with rubies. Seeing this, some people spread rumors that the piece alone was worth 123,946 Euros. Whereas, the actual value of the piece was 55,768 Euros. As you can see, this mistaken assumption of the value of this piece was what led people to the figure of $10 million.
In the end, Boodles had to step in and clarify that the most expensive chess set actually cost around $1.2 million. Now, that is definitely a bargain price compared to before. But, as always is the case with these things, only pull the trigger on this one if $1.2 million is burning a hole in your pocket and you just need to get rid of it. Though, even after paying that sum, you will need to wait for four months before getting the privilege of playing with it.