From the exquisite grain of cocobolo to the dark richness of African blackwood, the most expensive wood in the world is truly stunning.
Let’s find out more about the world of the most expensive wood and what makes it so unique.
Table of Contents
1. African Blackwood (Most Expensive Wood)
African Blackwood is considered the most expensive wood globally and is valued at $100 per board foot.
It is also known as Mozambique ebony, as it is native to southeastern Africa.
This wood is dark purplish-brown and black with streaks of dark brown and purple, giving it a unique and beautiful appearance.
African Blackwood is highly prized for woodwind instruments such as clarinets, oboes, and bagpipes due to its high density and machinability.
However, this valuable wood is at risk of destruction due to the fires used to clear agricultural lands.
2. Sandalwood: The Second-Most Expensive Wood
Sandalwood is the second-most expensive wood globally. It is widely used in the cosmetic industry for its fragrance and medicinal properties. Sandalwood is also valued for its use in religious ceremonies in India and Southeast Asia.
The most expensive type of sandalwood is Indian sandalwood, also known as Santalum album, which is native to India and Indonesia. Sandalwood is decreasing in production and is potentially becoming extinct due to over-harvesting.
If the production of sandalwood continues to decline, it will become an extremely rare and valuable wood in the future.
3. Pink Ivory: Highly Resistant and Rare Wood
Pink Ivory is an African wood that boasts high wood density and excellent resistance to decay. With its vibrant pink color, Pink Ivory is highly sought after and can cost up to $80 per board foot.
The wood is rare and not listed as threatened, making it an ideal choice for crafting high-end carvings, billiard cues, and novelty objects.
Pink Ivory is known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear, making it an ideal material for crafting objects that require strength and reliability.
The wood is also resistant to termites and marine borer attacks, making it an excellent choice for marine applications. Its unique properties make it an excellent choice for use in high-quality furniture, machine bearings, and even knife handles.
One of the reasons for Pink Ivory’s high price is the wood’s relative rarity. Pink Ivory trees grow slowly and are not commonly found, making the wood a scarce commodity.
Its pink color also adds to its desirability, making it an attractive choice for decorative purposes.
4. Purple Heart: Unique and Difficult Wood
Purple Heart is a wood commonly found in Central America and boasts a unique purplish hue that makes it an attractive choice for decorative purposes.
However, the wood’s beauty comes at a price, with a cost of up to $12 per board foot. Purple Heart is dense, durable, and water-resistant, making it an excellent choice for use in outdoor and marine applications.
Purple Heart is notorious for being a difficult wood to work with due to its high density and hardness. The wood can dull tools quickly, making it challenging to shape and form.
However, its durability and resistance to decay make it an attractive choice for use in high-quality furniture and flooring.
Purple Heart’s unique properties and beautiful color make it a popular choice for use in decorative items, such as veneers and inlays. Its use in musical instruments is also gaining popularity due to its unique tonal qualities.
The wood’s wavy pattern and beautiful contrasts also make it a popular choice for use in toy making and clogs. Despite its high cost and difficulty in handling, many craftsmen seek out Purple Heart for its unique properties and aesthetic appeal.
5. Lignum Vitae: Endangered National Tree of the Bahamas
Lignum Vitae, or “wood of life,” is the national tree of the Bahamas, known for its dark green, oily wood with a unique and wavy pattern. This wood has a high wood density, making it one of the heaviest and most laborious woods to work with. It is highly coveted for its natural oils that make it an excellent wear-resistance for bearings and machine components. However, Lignum Vitae is listed as an endangered species, threatened by habitat loss due to urbanization and over-consumption.
Historically, Lignum Vitae was used by indigenous populations of the Americas for medicinal purposes and tool making. It has also been used in houses and ships to prevent decay, thanks to its natural anti-fungal properties. Today, it is rarely used due to its endangered status, but it remains popular for special applications such as authentic restoration of antique buildings and machinery.
6. Bubinga: Resistant to Termites and Marine Borers
Bubinga, also known as “African rosewood,” is a hardwood from Central Africa that is relatively easy to work with. It has excellent wear and decay resistance, making it a desirable wood for high-quality furniture, flooring, and tools.
Bubinga is also known for its resistance to termites and marine borer attacks, making it popular for use in boats and docks.
Unlike other high-end woods, such as African Blackwood and Lignum Vitae, Bubinga is not listed as an endangered species. Therefore, it is more widely available in the market, but its high demand has made it relatively expensive.
Bubinga is also popular for its reddish-brown color, bold figuring, and rose-like scent. This wood has a wide range of applications, from musical instruments to furniture, flooring, and even clogs.
7. Agar Wood: One of the World’s Rarest Trees
Agar wood, also known as agarwood or oud, is considered one of the rarest trees in the world. It is an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia and can also be found in parts of India, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.
This tree is unique because it produces a resinous heartwood prized for its aroma, which is used to produce tea, oil, and perfume.
Agar wood is scarce because it is not easy to come by. The resinous heartwood is produced when the tree is infected with a specific type of mold.
The tree then reacts to the mold by producing resinous substances that accumulate over time. This accumulation can take decades, and therefore, only a small percentage of agar trees will produce the prized resinous heartwood.
It is also important to note that the harvesting process is incredibly challenging, which adds to the rarity and expense.
The oil produced from agar wood is known for its rose-like scent, making it a highly sought-after ingredient in the perfume industry.
The oil is also used in the cosmetic industry as an anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory agent. The tea produced from the leaves of the agar wood tree is believed to have medicinal purposes, with some cultures using it to treat fever, anxiety, and other ailments.
8. Dalbergia: Durable Wood Used in Sports Goods
Dalbergia is a genus of flowering trees primarily found in Asia, Africa, and South America. This wood is dense, durable, and highly sought after for its unique properties, making it a popular choice in sports goods and high-end furniture.
Dalbergia is known for its unique red or dark brown color and wavy pattern. It is highly dense and resists wear and decay, making it an ideal material for producing high-quality tools, knife handles, and sports goods. This wood is also popular for high-quality furniture that requires durability and water resistance.
However, it is important to note that working with Dalbergia can be challenging due to its hardness and susceptibility to cracking.
The sawdust produced during cutting can be poisonous, leading to health issues for those who work with it regularly.
Despite its incredible properties, Dalbergia is not commonly used due to its vulnerability as an endangered species.
Many species of this wood are considered threatened or vulnerable due to overconsumption and habitat loss. Governments have implemented several measures to protect this wood, including strict regulations on harvesting and trade.
9. Bocote: Aesthetically Pleasing Wood for Furniture
Bocote is a hardwood mostly found in Central America, particularly in Mexico, and is widely used for decorative furniture and flooring.
It has a unique wavy pattern that creates zebra-like contrasts, making it aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The tree can grow up to 100 feet tall with a trunk diameter of up to three feet.
Bocote wood is easy to work with and has a moderate density of approximately 775 kg/m3. The wood has bold figuring, often showing off its various beige and brown tones.
Due to its easy workability, Bocote can be used to make furniture ranging from modern to traditional styles.
Bocote has moderate decay resistance, which makes it suitable for indoor use. However, it is not suitable for outdoor use due to its limited resistance to environmental factors like moisture and sunlight.
Bocote has moderate durability and wear resistance, making it a good option for furniture and floorings that will see light to moderate wear and tear.
10. Wood Throughout History: From Sculptures to Musical Instruments
Wood has been used by human beings for millions of years, and its use dates back to the stone age.
The oldest known wood sculpture, the Shigir Idol, dates back 12,000 years.
This ancient sculpture is made from a single piece of larchwood and is one of the earliest examples of human art.
Wood is still used today in a variety of ways, especially for furniture and musical instruments.
Different woods are chosen for musical instruments based on their weight, density, and acoustic properties.
For example, African blackwood is known for its density, making it an ideal choice for flute and clarinet makers.
Meanwhile, Brazilian rosewood is a popular choice for guitar makers due to its uniform grain and reddish hue.
Besides musical instruments, wood is also used for sculptures, toys, marine purposes, doors, and floors.
Its versatility and durability make it a material in high demand, but due to overconsumption and unsustainable logging practices, some woods have become threatened and endangered species.