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Marc Cressac; Chess Fact-Checked by Marc Cressac | Updated 2023-08-28
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Best Ivory Chess Sets and Pieces in September 2023

In the illustrious world of chess, few things encapsulate luxury and tradition like ivory chess boards and sets. These masterpieces, often handcrafted with impeccable precision, not only offer players an unparalleled tactile experience but also become treasured heirlooms, passed down through generations. As the popularity of chess surges, aficionados and collectors alike are on a relentless quest to procure the finest ivory sets.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into a curated collection of the best ivory chess boards available, showcasing their artistry and the rich history behind each piece. Whether you’re a seasoned chess player, an avid collector, or simply an enthusiast of exquisite craftsmanship, this article promises a journey through the pinnacle of chess luxury. Join us as we unravel the charm and elegance of the world’s most sought-after ivory chess sets.

(Note: Ensure that trading in ivory products is legal and ethical in your region before promoting or purchasing them.)

Short on Time?
Here are our recommendations for the best ivory chess sets and boards in 2023:

Best Overall Ivory Chess Set: The Mammoth Ivory Collector Series Luxury Chess Pieces – 4.4″ King*

Best Budget Ivory Chess Board: The Mammoth Ivory and Genuine Ebony Collector Series Luxury Chess Pieces – 4.4″ King*

While we can’t buy and extensively test each ivory chess board or set in this list, we did our best to combine personal experience, online user reviews and product properties to into a coherent list of the most luxurious ivory sets at the moment.

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Best Overall Ivory Chess Set

Selecting the “best overall” from an array of exquisite ivory chess sets is no simple endeavor. When determining the pinnacle of craftsmanship and usability, there are several vital factors that discerning buyers must consider. First and foremost is the quality of the ivory used: it should be of the highest grade, with a smooth finish and consistent coloration. The intricacy of carving and detailing on each piece is equally crucial, revealing the artisan’s skill and dedication.

Additionally, the set’s durability, balance of the pieces, and overall aesthetics play pivotal roles. A truly exceptional ivory chess set is not just a game board; it’s a testament to history, art, and the enduring allure of chess itself. As we transition into presenting the crème de la crème in this category, we’ve kept these attributes at the forefront, ensuring that our chosen winner embodies the zenith of ivory chess craftsmanship.

The Mammoth Ivory Collector Series Luxury Chess Pieces – 4.4″ King

» A luxurious fusion of history and artistry in an exclusive Mammoth Ivory chess set.

Check Current Price*

Stepping into the realm of luxury chess, The House of Staunton brings forth the Collector Series Signature Chess set, elegantly made from 40,000-year old Woolly Mammoth Ivory. This club-sized set boasts a grand 4.4″ King with a sturdy 2.0″ base diameter, all meticulously carved by skilled artisans. The innate heft of the Mammoth Ivory gives these pieces an authentic feel, obviating the need for added weight.

All 34 pieces exude charm, with the black army lacquered to perfection, providing just the right contrast. Unadorned undersides of these pieces invite enthusiasts to marvel at the Mammoth Ivory’s unique grain. Every set, inclusive of four queens, carries with it a numbered certificate of authenticity and a manufacturer’s label, hinting at its exclusivity. While the showcased board is not part of the set, these pieces are truly a testament to the blend of history and luxury, as they stem from the Siberian tundra, where the woolly mammoth thrived for over 160,000 years.

This ivory, having been traded for over two millennia, has seen a surge in demand due to international trade restrictions on other ivories. The rarity is accentuated by the fact that only about one percent of all Mammoth Ivory is apt for crafting such chess pieces, making this set a genuine treasure for collectors.

What We Like

  • Made from rare and ancient Woolly Mammoth Ivory.
  • Detailed craftsmanship by master artisans.
  • Authentic, natural weight without the need for added fillers.

What We Don’t Like

  • Lack of basepads might not appeal to everyone.
  • High demand and rarity might make it less accessible.

Also check out this alternative on Amazon*

Best Budget Ivory Chess Set

Navigating the world of ivory chess sets, while balancing quality and budget, can be a challenging endeavor. The allure of ivory is undeniable, but not all sets need to break the bank. When scouting for the best budget-friendly ivory chess set, it’s essential to prioritize a few key factors.

The quality and authenticity of the ivory, even in a budget range, should never be compromised. Likewise, craftsmanship details, while perhaps not as intricate as premium sets, should still offer a touch of elegance and durability. Finally, the overall design and aesthetic should align with one’s personal tastes, ensuring that even a budget choice feels special.

As we venture into this category, we’ve carefully assessed these considerations, striving to find that ideal blend of affordability and quality. The chosen set not only embodies these values but stands as a testament that luxury can be accessible without compromising on excellence.

The Mammoth Ivory and Genuine Ebony Collector Series Luxury Chess Pieces – 4.4″ King

» Luxurious Mammoth Ivory chess set, echoing timeless Staunton elegance.

Check Current Price*

Stepping into the opulent corridors of chess, The House of Staunton presents the Collector Series Signature Chess set, an amalgamation of 40,000-year old Woolly Mammoth Ivory and the deep allure of Genuine Ebony. This set is a nod to the iconic Staunton design, reflecting the finesse of the original pattern registered back in 1849. With a 4.4″ King anchored on a 2.0″ diameter base, each piece in the set feels substantial, thanks to the inherent weight of the Mammoth Ivory, eliminating the need for any external weight. Complementing the ivory, the opposing pieces are elegantly sculpted from Genuine Ebony.

Ensuring its legacy, the set, complete with 34 chessmen and the inclusion of four queens, echoes standards set by The House of Staunton. Each purchase is accompanied by a personalized Certificate of Authenticity, along with a unique manufacturer’s label, primed to adorn a chess box.

Diving deep into its history, this ivory traces back to the Siberian tundra, the ancient home of woolly mammoths. Their extinction, due to rapid climatic changes, paved the way for the preservation of this rare ivory. This material, traded for millennia, saw a boom in demand post-1963, when other ivories faced international trade restrictions, making Mammoth Ivory a coveted, legal alternative.

Its escalating price, driven by global luxury demand, coupled with the fact that merely one percent meets the chess piece crafting standards, makes this set a genuine artifact of luxury.

What We Like

  • Exquisite blend of Mammoth Ivory and Genuine Ebony.
  • Hefty feel without external weighting.
  • Legacy design reflecting the original Staunton pattern.

What We Don’t Like

  • Chess board needs to be bought separately.
  • Absence of basepads might not resonate with everyone.
  • High demand might affect availability.

Also check out this alternative on Amazon*

Buying an Ivory Chess Set or Pieces

Navigating the market for authentic ivory chess boards and sets can be a rewarding experience, but it’s crucial to be well-informed. As the demand for these luxury items has surged, so has the market’s complexity. With potential pitfalls awaiting unsuspecting buyers, it’s essential to arm oneself with knowledge. This guide delves deep into the intricacies of selecting genuine ivory chess products, ensuring your purchase is not just an item, but an investment.

Identifying Authentic Ivory: Beyond the Surface

Ivory, being a premium material, often attracts counterfeiters. It’s vital to distinguish between genuine ivory and imitations like bone, plastic, or resin. Genuine ivory often showcases a unique grain pattern, called Schreger lines, visible in cross-section. Utilizing a magnifying glass or seeking expert validation can be invaluable. Remember, the price might be a hint; if a deal seems too good to be true, it often is.

Understanding the Ethical and Legal Implications

The trade of new elephant ivory has been banned since 1989 under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). However, Mammoth Ivory, which is excavated from permafrost and is thousands of years old, remains legal in many jurisdictions.

Before making a purchase, it’s paramount to understand the source of the ivory and ensure that it complies with local and international laws. Always request documentation that attests to the item’s legality and origin.

Evaluating Craftsmanship and Value

While the material is essential, the craftsmanship can significantly influence a set’s value. Look for detailed carvings, a smooth finish, and consistent coloration. The balance and feel of the pieces are also indicators of quality. A well-crafted ivory chess set should not only be a visual delight but also functional for gameplay. Additionally, consider the set’s provenance; sets with a known history or those crafted by renowned makers often fetch higher values.

In conclusion, purchasing an ivory chess board or set is more than just a transaction; it’s an experience steeped in history, artistry, and luxury. By ensuring authenticity, understanding the ethical implications, and appreciating craftsmanship, you’ll be well on your way to making a purchase that brings joy for generations.

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