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Chess is one of the world’s oldest games. The earliest versions of chess have been discovered as far back as the 7th Century in India. Over the centuries, the game was spread to nearby China and Persia, and eventually found its way to Europe, where it became what we recognize now as chess.
In the 21st Century, there has been a recent revival of unique, luxury chess sets; the game has once again returned to popularity with the success of media and pop culture, like the recent Netflix phenomenon The Queen’s Gambit. Given chess’s longstanding history , its ability to enthrall players in highly competitive, cerebral and tactical games will remain for centuries to come.
As a war battle strategy game, each type of piece has its own set of rules, and different ways that it can move. The goal has always remained the same; capture the opponent’s king piece.
There has been a recent revival of unique, luxury chess sets; the game has once again returned to popularity with the success of media and pop culture, like the recent Netflix phenomenon The Queen’s Gambit.
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As one of the first games that differentiated pieces by their moves, it was crucial for the pieces to be distinguishable, and representative of the characters in the game. The best chess sets needed iconic characters. As such, even the earliest pieces had ornate carvings and sculptural elements depicting the roles of King, Queen, Knight, Bishop, Rook and Pawn.
Over time and across the world, the pieces developed different aesthetics. For example, in the Middle East, pieces took on a more abstract or geometric look. Depictions of humans or animals were banned in the region under religious law. In Europe, the game was adopted by the upper class and royalty, and soon lavish, luxury chess sets were in every castle and royal hall throughout Europe.
The tradition of these gilded, hand-carved, jewel-set pieces has continued through today, and the world’s most luxurious, unique chess sets are still being created. The best luxury chess sets can go for 5, 6, or even 7 figures. Take a look at some of these lavish sets we’re loving now.
A modern take on the traditional pieces and board, this playful and beautiful luxury chess set by L’Objet is created from the finest of materials, including lacquered Macassar ebony wood, marble, brass and shell inlay. $1,795
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The ultra-luxurious equestrian fashion house has put their own spin on the classic, best chess set, offering a miniature, magnetized version of the game that is perfect for travel. This Mahogany-crafted set even includes a signature Hermes brindle leather strap. $2,400
Another centuries-old French crystal manufacturer, Baccarat has the best chess set of hand-cut crystal pieces in clear and black for a special chess set created in collaboration with design icon Marcel Wanders. The round, bauble-shaped pieces are finished with tiny gold crowns and sit upon an inlaid marble chess board. $18,000
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Another luxuriously appointed minimalist set, the Ralph Lauren luxury chess set is sure to please anyone with an eye for craftsmanship. The leather-tiled board is stitched together by hand, and the sleek nickel and gold-plated pieces are high on style. $1,995
The luxury jewelry and homeware brand has, of course, crafted their own take on the traditional chess game. This one is crafted from sterling silver and 24k gold vermeil, making it one of the most precious, valuable and best luxury chess sets available. The thin, sleek cut pieces are handcrafted by Tiffany silversmiths and take a full year to create. $100,000
Whether you are an amateur or a professional chess player, you can appreciate the beauty of the David Linley table top chess set. It is available in four different color varieties, including forest green, cognac, burgundy or grey. If you are looking for a way to add an elegant touch to your game room, living room or office, this luxury chess set provides just that. And it’s fun to play, too. $3,684
For the keen chess player on the go, nothing beats the Asprey London Hanover Chess case. The saddle leather case makes it easy to transport the luxury chess set and the interior calf leather keeps the pieces and board safe and protected while in travel. In fact, each piece has its own compartment to keep it safe. The chessboard folds in half for storage in the case, making it a sleek and non-bulky solution. $7,750
You may have seen Paris before, but have you seen it in chess form? Skyline Chess has some of the most unique chess boards, featuring chess pieces that resemble buildings from famous cities around the world. The pieces are hand-cast in solid bronze, making it one of the most truly luxury chess sets. The process for making the pieces is 6,000 years old! Skyline says “the bronze sets are made in a foundry in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, combining a time-consuming lost wax casting technique that dates back 6,000 years with 3D printing techniques to ensure every minute detail is captured perfectly.”
Choose between a hand screen-printed Corian® stone city map or Italian Carrara marble playing board, either choice makes the game of chess more extraordinary. $4,014
House of Staunton
THE MAMMOTH IVORY COLLECTOR SERIES LUXURY CHESS PIECES
You may have played the game on a luxury chess set before, but we highly doubt that you’ve ever played with a set of pieces made from 40,000 year old woolly mammoth ivory. Each set is made to order, and while it doesn’t include the board, the House of Staunton has each piece hand carved by a master artisan. The weight of each piece is naturally excellent, so no further weights or adjustments are added to the natural mammoth ivory. To differentiate between the two chess armies, one half of the mammoth ivory is lacquered in black. $12,995
House of Staunton Savano Artisan Series
THE SAVANO SERIES LUXURY WOOD CHESS SET
The House of Staunton Savano Artisan Series is the epitome of crafted quality and design. With heavyweight chess pieces and an equally heavy board, this luxury chess set has a delightful and classic finish. The set is crafted in Spain, and the protective storage box cradles each piece delicately in its own compartment. It also comes with a lock and key so that you can ensure your game set stays safe and in one place. $1,399
THE 1863 BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG CIVIL WAR LUXURY CHESS SET
Calling all history lovers! This civil war chess set transports you back in time to 1863 and the Battle of Gettysburg. The large and detailed oxo-teak chess pieces are hand painted by artisans in Italy. The hardwood chessboard is made with walnut and maple by an experienced woodworker in the United States. In fact, the board and matching boxes are made in close proximity to where the Battle of Gettysburg actually took place. $1,429
SHAGREEN CHESS SET FROM AERIN
This set from AERIN is exactly what we picture when we think of luxury chess sets. The contemporary and modern pieces add a stylish twist to the traditional game, featuring gold-plated and black satin finishes. The pieces and the stylish board with inlaid burlwood are nestled into an embossed shagreen box. This is an heirloom quality chess set, so your family can play the games for generations. $3250
OTTERBURN CHESS SET FROM NOVOCASTRIAN
Novocastrian’s Otterburn Chess Set is made of fine solid walnut with brass finishings. The hand-painted chess set can be customized with a variety of finishes and personalization options to make it truly yours. You won’t find a traditional king or queen in this set, each piece has a unique and modern look, making it artwork in its own right. Price varies by customization.