Do you know what wood is and how it forms in a tree? If you don’t, let me explain it to you.
Wood is one of the exceptional organic and versatile natural resources, formed by the xylem vessels that carry water up the plant.
It is a classic piece that will never go behind the times. The wooden made furniture, doors, decoration pieces can add a rich flair to any residence. Besides, the oil, leaves, barks extracted from the tree are highly valuable for perfumes, beauty products, and medical purposes.
However, have you ever wondered why the identical furniture made out of the same materials differ in pricing? Do you know what makes the wood so pricey?
Well, while researching the high-priced wood for furniture, I noticed that the price of wood depends on its origin, availability, color, strength, exoticness, and the labor needs to shape the wood. The more durable and more fragrant the wood is, the more cost it bears.
Today, I will share with you such kind of top 10 most expensive woods prevailing in the world, looking at what makes them thus overpriced. Let’s get into the topic!!
BOTANICAL NAME- Peltogyne spp
Price: $12/Board Feet
Purpleheart is an exotic wood that is renowned for its rich purple color. Originating from the CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA, the tropical hardwood is mainly found in Brazil, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Panama, and Guyana.
Otherwise known as Amendoim, Violet wood, Amaranth, the Purpleheart grows about 30 to 50 meters in height and 1.5 m. in width. It has straight, wavy, and sometimes irregular grain.
Purpleheart is commonly used in flooring, making furniture, boat building, and other specialty wood items. After cutting, you will find the wood of a dull gray-brown color. However, over time upon exposure, it switches its color to violet purple and ultimately to deep purple.
The wood is considered as one of the toughest and hardest woods, as it can resist both decay and insect attacks. Moreover, it is a water-resistant tree of fine to medium texture. You will observe a glossy appearance after polishing the wood. Thus it turns and finishes very well.
Disadvantages of the Purple wood:-
- The wood can cause adverse reactions, such as eye and skin irritation, and sometimes it can cause nausea.
- The wood may be damaged by the attack of Marine borers.
- If you use a dull cutter or if the speed of that cutter is too high, Purpleheart may discharge a gummy resin that can hinder the machining process.
BOTANICAL NAME- Guibourtia Demeusei
Price: $24.99 /Board Feet
Bubinga is an exotic wood native to Central Africa. Otherwise known as African Rosewood, Essingang, Buvenga, the wood grows about 40–50 m. in height, with a trunk diameter of 1–2 meters. The density can range from 43 to 52 pounds per cubic foot when dry.
This tropical hardwood features a straight and occasionally interlocking grain with a fine to medium texture and natural luster. Over time, its base color ranges from a lighter pinkish red to light- to medium-brown and violet tones. Moreover, the hard and durable wood can resist termite and marine borer attack.
The Bubinga wood is commonly used for tool handles, knife handles, turnery, boatbuilding, decorative veneers, and other specialty items. It turns and finishes very well.
The following are the disadvantages of Bubinga wood:-
- The wet lumber offers an unpleasant scent.
- It can cause Dermatitis or skin irritation and skin lesions.
- Silica, containing in some species, may dull cutters.
- The natural oil and high density can make gluing problematic.
Botanical Name– Cordia alliodora
Price: $ 32.99/ Board Feet
Like other woods discussed above, the Bocote is an exotic wood that originated in Mexico, Central America. It is also well known as Laurel, Salmwood, Princewood, Canaletta, Solera, and Bacote.
Bocote is a stiff, heavy, durable, and dense wood with a medium texture. It grows about 20-30 meters in height and the trunk diameter is 1-1.5 m. Initially, it features a greenish-yellow color, and over time the color switches to golden brown with black stripes.
Furthermore, the wood comes with a variety of grain patterns, such as straight, wild, and sometimes with curved lines and eye-catching swirling patterns. The tiny eyes on the surface of the wood offer a stunning look to the grain pattern as well as to the whole wood. The striking eyes should not be confused with knots, as they cause no issues while machining.
The heartwood dries without degradation and with very little movement. It polishes well with polyurethane and offers a moderately high natural gloss. Moreover, A large amount of oil present in the wood makes gluing problem-free.
Bocote is commonly used for veneer, furniture, knife handles, Cabinetry, Guitar Building, custom pool cues, Inlays & Box Making.
Disadvantages of the wood:-
- It can cause cross-reactions.
- Silica, containing in some species, may dull cutters.
Scientific Name: Dalbergia retusa
Price: Approximately $50 and $65 per board foot
Cocobolo is an exotic wood that originates in Central America. The height of the tree is about 14-18 m. and the trunk diameter is about 50-60 cm.
The tropical hardwood features a straight and sometimes interlocking grain, with a fine even texture and good natural luster. Over time, its base color can range from yellow, orange, red, to reddish-brown with dark or purple streaks.
Moreover, it is a stiff, heavy, durable, and dense wood that can resist insect attack. It is said that its natural oil resists the wood from degradation.
Cocobolo is commonly favored for producing furniture, musical instruments, turnings, and other specialty objects. It is one of the most expensive woods in the USA that turns and finishes very smoothly. It is reported on the CITES as Appendix II and the IUCN Red List as vulnerable.
The following are the disadvantages of the Cocobolo Wood:
- The high oil content may cause problems with gluing.
- Its color can bleed into nearby wood when applying a finish. So you must be careful.
- Its high density can cause a moderate blunting effect on cutting edges.
- The wood is reported as notoriously allergenic, causing nausea, asthma, pink-eye as well as skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.
- Even though it has an unpleasant distinct spice-like odor, sometimes it is used in women’s perfume.
Scientific Name: Dalbergia nigra
Price: up to $70/board foot
The Brazilian rosewood is one of the most expensive woods native to the Atlantic coast of Brazil. It is otherwise known as the Bahia rosewood, Jacarandá-da-Bahia, Rio rosewood, Piano wood, Obuina, and Cabiuna.
Brazilian rosewood is a deciduous tree that produces a very hard and heavy wood and can resist insect attack. It is a tree of about 30-40 m tall with a trunk diameter of 1-1.2 m.
The tropical hardwood features a straight and occasionally interlocking and wavy grain with a medium-coarse texture and medium-sized pores. Its color may vary from a darker chocolate brown to reddish-brown. You may find it trouble-free to work with hand and machine tools. Finally, it turns and finishes excellently.
It is mainly used in Veneer, antique crafted swings, high-grade furniture, cabinetry, flooring, musical instruments especially pianos, turned objects, and other specialty items. The wood is recorded in CITES Appendix I.
Disadvantages of the Brazilian rosewood:
- It may cause a blunting effect on cutting edges.
- Its high natural oil may make gluing problematic.
- Sometimes it can cause eye and skin irritation.
Otherwise known as Gharuwood in South East Asia, the Agarwood is a resinous part of the non-timber Aquilaria tree. Aquilaria tree mainly grows up to 25m in a tropical and sub-tropical climate, such as in South-East Asia, China, Japan, Egypt, Singapore, and India.
Agarwood forms in the heartwood of the Aquilaria tree when it becomes infected with Phialophora parasitica. Before infection, the heartwood of the Aquilaria tree is odorless and is of light and pale color. However, through the infection process, it produces a dark aromatic resin known as agar or aloes.
Agarwood is one of the most expensive non-timber that is mainly traded in three forms:- 1) woodchips, 2) wood dust, 3) oil. The resinous wood is largely used as incense for medicinal purposes, and the pure resin is used after distilling as oil and perfume components. Moreover, it is popular as a cure for Asthma and kidney diseases.
Depending on its resin percentage, the price of agarwood chips is ranging from $30 to $9000 per kg. Furthermore, the Oud oil fetches around $30,000, and the wood itself costs up to $10.000.
Disadvantages of the wood:-
- The wood may cause skin problems.
- Although it is used for medical purposes, excess intake may cause Nausea, Stomach Rumble, and Diarrhoea.
Price: Up to $10,000/kg
Ebony is one of the most expensive types of wood that belongs to the Diospyros genus. Once, the heavy wood had been used for decoration by the Kings and princes.
The wood features a body of somewhat a mixture of red and brown color with dark stripes. It generally grows at a height of about 20 meters, but sometimes it reaches up to 30 meters. It is extremely dense and hard and hence sinks in water. Moreover, it has a flat grain and is mainly popular for its smooth texture and deep dark shade.
Ebony is mainly used for producing musical instruments, such as black piano keys, violins, mandolins, etc. Furthermore, the roots have medical properties, used as the treatment of parasites and other infectious diseases.
Ebony trees are of different types, for instance-
- Cylon Ebony (Diospyros Ebenum)– It grows between 20 and 25 meters and produces black wood.
- African Ebony (Diospyros mespiliformis)– Native to African Savannah, the tree is also known as jackalberry because of the popularity of its fruits among the jackals.
- Gaboon Ebony (Diospyros dendo)– Native to Africa, the dark tree grows up to 18 meters in height.
- Makassar Ebony (Diospyros celebica)– Originating from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, the tree grows up to 20 meters tall.
- Pale Moon Ebony (Diospyros malabarica)– Native to the Indian subcontinent, the tree is considered one of the tallest members of the ebony family that reaches up to 35 meters.
- Coromandel Ebony (Diospyros melanoxylon)– Originating from India and Sri Lanka, the tree produces leaves and barks that have medical properties.
- Mun Ebony (Diospyros mun)– It is the smallest tree of the ebony family, used for inlays or carvings.
- Myrtle Ebony (Diospyros pentamer)– This rare ebony tree can grow from 5- 40 meters.
- Queensland Ebony (Diospyros humilis)– It is found at the coast of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and New South Wales.
BOTANICAL NAME- Berchemia zeyheri
Price: reach up to $80/board foot
Pink Ivory is an exotic wood that was once the sacred wood of Zulu chiefs in Southern Africa. Only royal family members were allowed to retain it until the year of the Anglo-Zulu War. Other names by which the tree is known include purple ivory, red ivory, umnini, or umgoloty.
Originated in Southern Africa, the tree mainly grows in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. Despite being native to Southern Africa, the wood is rare throughout its mainland. So it is regarded as valuable as diamonds and emeralds.
Pink Ivory is a very hard wood with a density of 990 g/dm3. However, It is very durable and can easily stand up to decay.
Pink Ivory wood is mainly used to make jewelry, billiard cues, canes, knife handles, musical instruments, luxury goods, and other medicinal purposes.
There are some disadvantages that people face while working with this wood.
- Sunlight will gradually make the wood pale.
- It takes 5-10 years to dry a piece of wet pink ivory and it may crack profusely during the process.
- The wood has a distinct and somewhat unpleasant odor.
- It has a strong blunting effect on cutting edges, and most people find it difficult to work in board format.
Scientific Name: Santalum album
Price: $20,000/Kg, and $3,000/liter oil
Native to India and Indonesia, the evergreen Sandalwood is otherwise known as Chandan, Sandalo Blanco, Sandal; White Sandalwood tree, etc. According to the source from Wikipedia, it is the world’s second-most expensive wood.
Apart from Asian countries, the heavy and fine-grained tree is also found in Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands.
Indian Sandalwood is a smooth and gray-brown colored tree that grows from 8-12 m. in height and 2.5 m. in width. It is an aromatic wood that can retain its fragrance for decades. The oil extracted from the Sandalwood and its distinctive fragrance have a high value in the international market.
Let’s see why SANDALWOOD is so special:-
Some research shows that Sandalwood has health perks. For instance, the Sandalwood oil is used as an antiseptic to manage depression and anxiety, to treat headache, stomachache, and urinary and sexual disorders. The leaves and bark are used for the treatment of skin irritations like acne and eczema.
The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers’ Association, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognize the oil safe as a natural flavoring.
NOTE: I request you not to follow the provided healthcare information without consulting your healthcare provider.
Let’s move to the last wood and see which of the most expensive wood comes in the top position.
Scientific Name: Dalbergia melanoxylon
Price: $100 per board foot
Native to Central and Southern Africa, the exotic African Blackwood is otherwise known as Mozambique Ebony or Senegal Ebony, Mpingo, and Granadillo. It usually grows in the arid regions of Tanzania and Mozambique and it is the national tree of Tanzania.
African Blackwood is a small, heavily branched tree, usually growing from 4 to 15 meters tall. It is a very hard and heavy wood with an average density of 79lbs/ft3 – 1,270kg/m3. People may smell a mild—though distinctive—scent while working.
The tree features a dark- purplish-brown heartwood with predominate dark streaks. Furthermore, it has very thin pale yellow sapwood, clearly demarcated from the darker heartwood, that helps to avoid crack during prolonged drying.
The straight grain with an extremely fine and even texture makes cutting this wood fairly easy. Moreover, the small pores don’t require filling.
Capable of holding threads and other intricate details well, the wood is considered one of the world’s finest woods for turning. It is mainly used for custom pool cues, brush backs, woodwind instruments, knife handles, chessmen, walking sticks, and carving and also highly valued in Musical instrument manufacture.
The following are the disadvantages of the African Blackwood:-
- The tree needs up to 60 years to grow into an adult and 2-3 years to dry.
- Unfortunately, it is easily damaged by insects such as Borers and Powderpost beetles.
- The wood can cause adverse reactions that include sneezing, asthma, eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.
- It has an extreme blunting effect on cutters and thus very difficult to work with hand or machine tools.
I hope you find this article on the world’s top 10 most expensive woods fruitful.
About Dawson Kutch
Dawson Kutch is a born and raised Alaskan who loves the outdoors and everything it has to offer. Kutch has been an avid hunter and fisher his entire life, and takes great pride in providing for himself and his family. While he enjoys spending time in the great outdoors, Kutch also has a passion for fashion and loves to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. In his free time, Kutch enjoys spending time with his wife and one young daughter. He is always looking to learn more and better himself, both as a writer and as a person.