Highly-crafted luxury chess sets made of luxurious wood could be a very valuable investment. It is unfortunate that materials for wooden and ivory chess sets are becoming increasingly rare and restricted due to financial and environmental reasons. However, this is an advantage for chess set collectors hoping to make a lasting investment.
Ivory may be the most well-known restricted material for valuable chess sets. Many collectors regard it as a very high-class material. Certain kinds of ivory have higher appraisals. For example, a Staunton chess set made from a 40,000-year-old wooly mammoth may be worth $9,000 to $12,000. Ivory chess sets that were made in more recent years may still be worth $1,000 to $2,000 if they are in good condition. If you hold onto an ivory set for a while, your investment can grow.
When wooden chess sets are made using particular woods, they are given a unique quality. Recently, exports of high-quality woods such as ebony, sandalwood and rosewood have become more restricted and the prices are rising for chess sets made of these woods. When countries such as India — where the majority of chess sets are manufactured — increase their minimum prices on select exports, the prices on individual items go up. Higher prices are a deterrent to customers and, consequently, the sales decrease. This all means that fewer people are buying quality chess sets made from exotic hardwood. It gives you as the investor a better chance of securing such a set if you have the funds to do so. The rarity of a given set’s materials will make it worth more money later.
Like ivory, rosewood is rapidly becoming endangered. Found in tropical America, Madagascar and Southeast Asia, its value is rising considerably as time passes. Buyer beware, though; not all rosewoods are created equal. The timber trade sells a number of timbers under the “rosewood” name because they are outwardly similar to real rosewood. Due to a controversy over rosewood logging and subsequent illegal sourcing of this wood, the Malagasy government banned the export of rosewood for two to five years. The increasing rarity of rosewood makes rosewood chess sets worthy investments.