9 Rarest and Most Expensive Chess Sets

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Although the history of chess is a little controversial, many experts agree the game didn’t show up until after the 6th century CE. Interestingly, game pieces from Russia, China, and other countries that are older than that have been discovered, but more up-to-date analysis says these pieces actually come from distantly related board games that predate chess.

Despite some controversy, historians agree that the Staunton chess set of 1849 marks the beginning of modern chess sets. This iconic set was inspired by neoclassical architecture and it still influences most chess set designs made today.

In the modern world, it’s not hard to find inexpensive chess sets, but some sets sell for thousands (or more). These sets are often made from unique materials or offer some historical significance.

Here are the top 9 most expensive chess sets in the world.

9. Formula 1 ‘Raced’ Chess Set

Estimated Value: $15,300
Materials: Made from parts of old F1 cars
Origin: Unknown
Interesting Fact: All these parts reportedly came from cars that actually raced
Formula 1 ‘Raced’ Chess Set
photo source: thedrive.com

If you love racing and chess, this unique set is for you.

The interesting design was crafted using parts from old F1 cars. Reportedly, these F1 parts came from Renault and Lotus team cars — and the set manufacturer says all the cars actually raced at some point.

Each piece is made from different car parts. The pawn, for example, comes from a wheel peg and grease retention plate. The queen includes a driveshaft retention ball and the knights are made from portions of the brake system.

All told, this unique chess set has a hefty price tag of $15,300.

Did you know?

Beyond the unique chess pieces, this set features a board made from carbon fiber and titanium.

8. The Baccarat Set

Estimated Value: $27,200
Materials: Crystal
Origin: France
Interesting Fact: This set was made to celebrate Baccarat’s 250th birthday
The Baccarat Set
photo source: luxurylaunches.com

Baccarat is one of France’s oldest glassworking brands, and it’s still operating today.

In 2014, Baccarat turned 250. To celebrate the brand’s birthday, Baccarat had product designer Oki Sato craft a stunning crystal chess set. The design mimics Baccarat’s Harcourt glasses using midnight blue and clear crystal. The pieces were cut by hand — and that alone took 200 hours, not to mention the design time.

Only 50 sets of this design were produced, which instantly made them more expensive. Baccarat fans faced a price tag of $27,000 to get their hands on one of these delicate chess sets.

Did you know?

Although Baccarat is best known for its crystal, the brand offered a wide variety of glass products in the 19th century, including opaline, an opaque glass.

7. Medieval Venetian Period-Themed Set

Estimated Value: $30,515
Materials: Gold, silver, and bronze
Origin: The U.S.A.
Interesting Fact: This set was made using a traditional bronze casting technique
Medieval Venetian Period-Themed Set
photo source: pianki.com

The Medieval Venetian Period-Themed chess set from Pianki is called a “decorative” set, and it’s not hard to see why. The handmade pieces are crafted by artisans and signed to verify their authenticity, so the set is really more a work of art than a board game.

Beyond bronze cast using traditional techniques, this set features 24-karat gold finishes and silver details. Those materials boosted the price, but a big part of the cost comes from exclusivity. Although it’s unclear how many will be made, production of this set is limited — bringing the final price tag to a whopping $30,515.

Did you know?

Pianki didn’t limit luxury to the chess pieces. The board itself is made from expensive materials including onyx and Tuscan marble.

6. Cybis Porcelain Chess Set

Estimated Value: $49,900
Materials: Porcelain
Origin: The U.S.A.
Interesting Fact: This design was commissioned by the U.S. government
Cybis Porcelain Chess Set
photo source: chessantiques.com

Of all the chess sets on this list, this one might have the most unique backstory. The design was commissioned by the U.S. government to be presented to the USSR by President Richard Nixon. This specific copy of the design was one of 10 original editions, but a different copy was selected to be formally presented in Moscow.

With such a unique history, this set is worth an estimated $49,900.

Did you know?

The design for this chess set was inspired by tapestries from the 14th century depicting the “nine heroes.” These “heroes” included figures like Alexander the Great and Charlemagne, King of the Franks.

5. The Art of War

Estimated Value: $50,000
Materials: Gold, diamonds, and ebony
Origin: Unknown
Interesting Fact: The official price for this set is only available upon request
The Art of War
photo source: luxuo.com

As of 2008, estimates said this expensive chess set was worth a very steep $50,000. However, interested buyers have to contact the seller to get the official price tag.

Still, it’s a safe bet that this chess set is worth thousands. The design mainly features gold, diamonds, and ebony — but final touches of emeralds and sapphires really drive up the expense.

The set as a whole is paired with an ultra-luxury carrying case complete with solid gold feet. Finally, the designer added some rubies to double-down on the luxury.

Did you know?

This chess set was created by Victor F. Scharstein.

4. Charlemagne vs Moors Giant Chess Set

Estimated Value: $146,490
Materials: Gold, silver, bronze, and onyx
Origin: The U.S.A.
Interesting Fact: This set is inspired by Frankish ruler Charlemagne
Charlemagne vs Moors Giant Chess Set
photo source: pianki.com

This expensive chess set is inspired by Frankish ruler Charlemagne (a.k.a Charles the Great). Charlemagne ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814. As a design inspired by royalty, this chess set features luxurious and expensive touches like solid bronze finished with gold and silver. The set comes with a table-board combo and chairs fit for a king.

In the end, be ready to spend over $145,000 on this insanely expensive chess set.

Did you know?

Unlike some expensive chess sets, this set can be slightly customized. Buyers with enough money can get their set with variations including white and yellow marble, green onyx, and black marble.

3. The Queen’s Silver Jubilee

Estimated Value: $195,000
Materials: Sterling silver, gold leaf, and leather
Origin: The U.K.
Interesting Fact: This set is stamped with the Queen’s mark
The Queen’s Silver Jubilee
photo source: luxurylaunches.com

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee is a chess set officially designed for Her Highness. Although one set was formally presented to the British royalty in the 1970s, a second set was reportedly available for sale in late 2020. This second set, which is identical to the Queen’s except for her stamped mark, was available for nearly $200,000 or the equivalent value in Bitcoin.

As a chess set designed for royalty, it’s no surprise that the Queen’s Silver Jubilee features some impressive materials. The pieces themselves are made from solid sterling silver and gold leaf. Below them, the board is leatherbound with leather trim.

Did you know?

Although this design differs from the Staunton set, certain elements take cues from that groundbreaking design. Most notably, the Crown marking on the Rooks and Knights takes inspiration from the iconic chess set of 1849.

2. The Charles Hollander Collection Chess Set

Estimated Value: $400,000
Materials: Diamonds, white gold, and silver
Origin: Unknown
Interesting Fact: Variations of this set can cost more than $1 million
The Charles Hollander Collection Chess Set
photo source: chess-boards.com

This insanely expensive chess set was constructed using nearly 10,000 black and white diamonds, white gold, and silver. The creation was produced by Charles Hollander Collection, a big name in the diamond industry.

The set took 30 jewelers over 4,500 hours to create and comes with a price tag between $400,000 and $1 million depending on the variation.

Beyond this chess set, the Charles Hollander Collection created a diamond-covered backgammon set using over 60,000 diamonds that sells for a whopping $1.5 million. If that’s not enough to round out your luxury board game collection, check out the brand’s roulette wheel featuring 3.5 kg of gold.

Did you know?

Charles Hollander Collection also offers diamond-encrusted pens and a diamond soccer ball.

1. Pearl Royale

Estimated Value: $4 million
Materials: Diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and gold
Origin: Australia
Interesting Fact: This set was designed by Colin Burn
Pearl Royale
photo source: nerdist.com

Pearl Royale is the most expensive chess set in the world.

Designed by Australian artist Colin Burn, this ultra-expensive creation takes the crown for priciest chess set in the world. The incredible design features 513 carats of real white diamonds alongside South Sea pearls — but that’s just the start. For added luxury, Burn added white gold and sapphires, bringing the set’s estimated value to $4 million.

Burn’s design was inspired by the classic Staunton set from 1849, which is regularly used for chess competitions. Interestingly, Burn’s set followed in its inspiration’s footsteps and debuted at the 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship in Dubai.

Did you know?

According to his website, Burn’s dream was “to create the world’s finest chess set for the world’s greatest players to do battle.” Burn also said his goal was to use materials fit “for a king and queen.”


Head of Content at Rarest.org


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