Do you know that one of the most expensive woods in the world, “Thai Rosewood,” can reach up to $50,000 per cubic meter (for almost the size of a two-seater sofa) and sometimes even more? It is because of its growing demand, unique aesthetic appeal, and quality features like resistance to decay and insects.
Well, that’s not it. Apart from Rosewood, many other types of wood are famous and expensive because of their rarest qualities, usage in specific industries, intricate grain patterns, and prestige. There are many reasons why the price of wood drives up, like its availability, workability, hardness, usage, resistance, and durability.
- African Blackwood and Rosewood won the top position.
- Brazilian Rosewood is used in making luxurious boutique guitars.
- Brightest Pink Ivory is the most expensive one among its variations.
List Of Most Expensive Types of Woods In the World
Below are the costliest wood in the world in 2023 with their notable qualities and prices.
Table of Content
- African Blackwood ($100 per board foot)
- Pink ivory ($80 Per board foot)
- Brazilian Rosewood ($70 Per board foot)
- Macassar Ebony ($65 Per board foot)
- Koa ($62 Per board foot)
- Ziricote: ($60 per board foot)
- Cocobolo ($55 Per board foot)
- Agarwood ($25 Per board foot)
- Sandalwood ($10 Per board foot)
- Purpleheart ($8 Per board foot)
1. African Blackwood | The Most Exotic and Priciest
What makes African Blackwood so expensive is its super qualities like stiffness and durability. Plus, it is hard to handle even with tools. Due to illegal trafficking, it is becoming rare over time, surging its demand and prices so drastically. According to IUCN, it is Near Threatened species due to over-harvesting, and they can go extinct if not conserved soon.
Origin: Widely found in Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique
Price Range: $100 per board foot
Key Features: Even textured and highly durable. Blackish, dark brown, and sometimes even purplish color. Give a luxurious smooth finish and is very resistant to termites.
Widely Used In: Making musical instruments like flutes due to their acoustic properties, luxurious furniture, knife handles, flooring, decoratives, and boats.
2. Pink ivory | Rarer than diamonds
Many people consider it rarer than diamonds due to its value and availability. Especially bright pink ivory is the rarest of them all, and there are strict regulations on its harvesting. All of these factors accumulate to its crazy high price.
Origin: Native to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique
Price Range: $80 per board foot (can vary dispensing upon its color)
Key Features: Notable watermelon peach color that can vary from pale brown to deep red. Fine-grained and natural luster can be seen. Exceptionally hard and stiff, they have decay-resistant qualities and a smooth look.
Widely Used In: Chessmen, jewelry, pool cues, knife handles, carving, pens, decor items.
3. Brazilian Rosewood | Exceptional Tonal Qualities
They are considered to be the best ones for constructing furniture and top musical instruments like boutique guitars. Its scarcity has surged due to illegal exploitation over a long period of time, and it has now come under IUCN Red List as “vulnerable.”
Origin: Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest
Price Range: $70 per board foot
Key Features: Reddish deep brown to dark shades with red, gold, and oxblood-colored grain hints. Notable rose scent, acoustic properties, pest resistance, and highly durable. It has natural oils and gives a sleek finish.
Widely Used In: Musical instruments, flooring, wood decoratives.
4. Macassar Ebony | Most Heavy and Hard Wood
It is named after the Indonesian port city, Macassar. Its demands remain high all year around because Ebony trees take longer to grow fully and have exceptional hardwood qualities. Plus, they are endangered because of illegal logging. These factors make it among the top most expensive wood type in the world.
Origin: Southeast Asia
Price Range: $65 per board foot
Key Features: Straight and interlaced fibers of red-brown and yellowish hues. The striped appearance has a naturally smooth finish. Slightly unpleasant odor and is difficult to work with.
Widely Used In: Delicate specialty items, exclusive musical instruments, billiard cues, fingerboards, and luxurious cabinetry.
5. Koa | Unique Curly Appearance
It can be easily sanded and bent to construct anything. The strength and stiffness make it perfect to work with. Liked by many woodworkers and designers, it is a high-value item that is harvested in a controlled and restricted environment. However, it is not so durable and can be easily degraded. Since it is grown in volcanic areas, the red and dark gold colors give it a unique appearance that can not be found in any other wood.
Origin: Largest native tree species of Hawaii
Price Range: $62 Per board foot
Key Features: Unique natural sheen and finish. Plus, ribbon-like streaks of reddish brown and golden shades. Strong and shock-resistant qualities make it unique.
Widely Used In: Jewellery boxes, musical instruments (as it is a tonewood), furniture, and veneers.
6. Ziricote | Most Aesthetically Pleasing Tonewood
Zrircote can be an easy one to handle due to its high density. Its texture makes it unmatched. Having brittle and humidity-sensitive properties, it can require some level of expertise to work with. Although it does not affect the sound of the guitar that much, it is the most preferred wood type to make guitars – majorly due to its unique hue overlays that are natural.
Origin: Native to Southern Mexico and Central America
Price Range: $60 Per board foot
Key Features: Unique spider-web appearance with colors ranging from dark black bands intermixed with slight green and purple shades.
Widely Used In: Several wood items, including furniture, guitars, and gunstocks.
7. Cocobolo | Famous for Making Desks
Due to its characteristic hues and strength, it is widely loved by artisans and wood crafters and is used to make Cocobolo desks and other furniture items. You may have seen it as a prominent one in the super-hit series Breaking Bad. The character named Jimmy McGill said, “Hey do you think? Do we get a choice of desks? Is it possible….can we do cocobolo?” as he wanted to get one, a sign of success and victory.
It gets darker as it ages, adding to the grace and beauty of its appearance. Even after several governmental laws and restrictions on its harvesting in a sustainable manner, it has been declared as “Vulnerable” by IUCN. And now, authorities must step in to make the laws even more strict.
Origin: Especially in Central America and spread over Latin countries like Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala
Price Range: $55 per board foot
Key Features: Unique black and brown colors with spots of red, yellow, purple, and oranges. Has a neutral luster with a super smooth and even texture. Highly resistant, durable, and stiff.
Widely Used In: Furniture, indoor flooring, paneling, pool cues, sculptures, handles, and jewelry boxes.
8. Agarwood | Also called as “Wood of Gods”
It is also known as “Oud.” And it is the key factor in its identification. Although its aroma is not much significant in its natural form, it can be strongly felt once you burn it. It seamlessly spreads all over the space and produces less smoke than other woods. Plus, a seriously earthy look it has. Due to its fame and demand all over the world, it is considered endangered – and its essential oil is called “liquid gold.”
Origin: Native to Southeast Asia. Its forests are widely found in Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Northeast India, and Thailand.
Price Range: $25 Per board foot
Key Features: Fragrant notes and dark shades ranging from light yellowish to dark brown with a distinctive appearance. Weavy grain pattern with fine texture, making it easy to work with. Long-lasting, durable, and resistant to decay, fungal attacks, and insects.
Widely Used In: Several medicinal purposes, important in various religious ceremonies. Widely known for its wood and essential oil to make luxury perfumes.
9. Sandalwood | From a Royal Tree
Much known for its fragrant properties, it is going extinct due to illegal extraction and selling in the black market. It is mainly demanded by perfume industries, skincare brands, and traditional medicine, making it one of the most expensive wood. It is also used to make high-end, expensive, and intricate furniture items, sculptures, and figurines.
Origin: Western ghats of India
Price Range: $10 Per board foot
Key Features: Fine and smooth textures with interlocked weary grain patterns, resistant to wear and dents, highly durable texture. Distinctive reddish-brown appearance.
Widely Used In: Sports goods, turnery, furniture, and luxury/expensive items.
10. Purpleheart | Almost Unbreable
Purple heart wood is known for its vibrant purple shades that cannot be found in any other specie. It can pose some difficulty in cutting and manufacturing. It will need to be pre-drilled for screwing and often requires special tools to be handled.
It is widely used in heavy construction projects like building flooring for cargo trucks, feature walls, and boardwalks in areas that are more exposed to humidity and pressure.
Origin: Native to Brazil and Mexico
Price Range: $8 per board foot
Key Features: Unique purple-brown and grey color and gain pattern make it special. Decay and insect resistant. The grain pattern is typically straight.
Widely Used In: High-end flooring, furniture, boat building, decking, and musical instruments (guitar fretboards).
In a Nutshell:
Each of the most expensive woods in the world is the rarest and possesses some unique characteristics. Whether you are an interior design enthusiast, a woodworking specialist, or just a curious person who wants to get amazed by how much just the wood can cost these exclusive and rarest wood types will surely impress you.
Images: Wikimedia Commons