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Luxury Staunton Chess Sets

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Above you will find a range of Luxury Chess Sets that have been sourced from the finest producers in the world. We have paired together chessmen from the finest craftsmen with chess boards from some of the most exclusive European brands. Here we will discuss the subject of Luxury Chess Sets, what makes them premium and the many qualities you can expect from such a product.

What defines a chess set as a Luxury Chess Set?

1. Price

The first indicator will of course be the price; when the word 'Luxury' is placed in front of any product name it usually suggests there will be a premium price tag attached. Price is however only an indicator and there are many other factors to consider. Typically a set will cost upwards of £300 and there's a huge selection between that price and around £1200. There are however sets in the £1000s or even £10,000s for one off exclusives.

2. Brand

In the world of chess sets there are no brands that have the fame and familiarity of companies like Ferrari, Gucci or Rolex but when you delve deeper into the subject you'll notice that a few notable brands keep popping up.

Other Brands

There are of course other notable brands of luxury chess products including Manopoulos, Scali, Mastellone, and others.

3. Production Methods

The first thing to establish is that the process of making chess pieces is completely different to that of making a chess board. It's very common for a luxury set to be a mix of two brands, one for the board, the other for the chessmen.

Luxury chessmen production

Luxury chessmen production

The method of producing these superb works of art remains largely the same as it did over one hundred years ago. Blocks of premium hardwoods are turned using a lathe, the base hollowed out for weighting, polished, waxed, re polished and then felted on the bottom. The knights are still hand carved using intricate power tools similar to a dentists drill.

Luxury chess board production

Luxury chess board production

The process of making a very high quality chess board involves sourcing matched shades of rare hardwoods and carefully creating the chess board patter using fine inlays. The book matching or marquetry skills needed to do this are very high and the results speak for themselves. Once assembled and sanded the boards are finished in multiple coats of lacquer and then polished.

4. Materials Used

Wood is the most popular material used in the production of our sets and in the case of the luxury sets it will always be a rare and very beautiful hardwood. Many of these woods are soaring in price and scarcity which pushes the price point of these sets up even higher.

Wood

Ebony
A rich dark, almost black wood that is extremely hard and dense. Ebony was traditionally used to make black piano keys, violin fret boards and also extensively used in Africa to make carved works of art.

Rosewood
A stunning rich purple / brown wood with extensive figuring and grain patters. A lovely oily wood that has traditionally been a favourite for musical instruments. Now restricted on the export market it has become rare and expensive and is used in only the most expensive chess sets.

Boxwood
Boxwood, while not as expensive as ebony or rosewood is always used for the white chessmen. It is also used in cheaper mid-range sets but has become the industry standard for the white side. You will typically find that when used in luxury sets cleaner, more attractive and more uniform boxwood will be selected.

Red Sandalwood
In the past many super luxury sets were made from Red Sandalwood. Today it is more or less banned from being exported from the countries that produce chess sets so it is no longer used. There are some very old stock and used sets on the market and one should expect to pay higher sums for these stunning sets.

There are of course other materials used in the production of the sets including steel, brass, pewter, nickle, bone, stone resin and also painted sets.

Metal

Luxury chessmen can be made from metals such as brass, steel, nickel and pewter. They are often lathed and can be engineered to very fine tolerances and standard of finish. This is an expensive manufacturing process and produces a far better result than cast pieces. The Italians are expert at making luxury metal chessmen. Typically it will only be the pieces that are metal. They usually adorn a nice wooden chess board.

Stone and Marble

Luxury stone, marble and alabaster chess sets are very common and make excellent decorative chess sets for high end interiors. They most often come with the board and pieces made from the same material. While very luxury and decorative they are very heavy, fragile and not as practical as a wooden set. The top-quality sets always come from Italy.

Bone

Today very few chess sets are made from bone, but it does still exist as a material for making high end chess pieces.

Other Materials

There are of course other materials used in the production of the sets including steel, brass, pewter, nickle, stone resin and also painted sets.

5. Size - Large Luxury Chess Sets and why they are bigger than cheaper sets

As a general rule most of the most luxury chess pieces are made in larger sizes, typically over four inches (king height). The common sizes of chessmen are:

  • 4.5 inches
  • 4 inches
  • 3.75 inches
  • 3.5 inches

When it comes to Staunton chess sets the lovely wide base means that a substantial chess board is required. On our top of the range sets the smallest board is 17 inches across and the largest are 24 inches. In fact it's worth bearing in mind when you're choosing your set to ensure the size is right for where you plan to place it.

The origins of the very large Staunton Chessmen comes from the original sets that were made in the 1800s. They were commonplace in sizes of over four inches and this generous size meant a very detailed, finely polished and well weighted piece could be produced. Today that tradition lives on and with so many of the luxury pieces being either replicas or variants of classic Staunton pieces there is little surprise that they are still made in this large size. While four and a half inches may not seem large, a set of chessmen with this size king will need a board of at least 21 inches!


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