The Most Expensive Varieties of Wood in the World

While there are over 100,000 wood species on this planet, not all are created equal. How wood is used, priced, and its availability varies significantly from species to species. Some types of wood are widely available and affordable, while others have prices that would make you balk because of their rarity or intensive harvesting.

In this article, we’ll explore the rarest and most expensive varieties of wood to see what sets them apart from their more affordable counterparts.

Pink Ivory ($30 per Board Foot)

Pink ivory is a small tree from the southern regions of Africa, primarily Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. As the name suggests, the color of this wood is pink, but the shade of pink has a vast range, going from a soft light pink to a deep red or maroon. Because of its color range, the wood and tree go by several different names, including red ivory and purple ivory.

This wood type has a reputation for being a dense, durable material that’s resistant to rot and incredibly beautiful. The color range makes it an appealing option for decorative and luxury woodworking projects, including jewelry and instruments. Adding to this reputation of quality and beauty is the rarity of the product; it’s considered one of the rarest types of wood in the world and is compared in value to diamonds and jewels like emeralds.

Pink ivory’s primary uses are in carving and turning projects, as it’s difficult to make this wood into planks or boards without it tearing along its grain.

african blackwood

African Blackwood ($100 per Board Foot)

African blackwood got its name thanks to its dark interior color, which ranges from a deep purple to a pure black, a surprising contrast to the light-brown exterior bark. The small, slow-growing tree thrives in African countries like Tanzania and Mozambique. This slow growth and the beauty of this wood have played a role in the near extinction of this tree species and added to the cost of it.

When it comes to working with African blackwood, it can be one of the more challenging wood options because it is so dense and durable. It’s not uncommon for it to dull the tools used for working the wood, adding to the expense behind this wood.

African blackwood is prized for its use in instruments like guitars.

Sandalwood ($250 per Board Foot)

Well-known for its fragrance in soaps, perfumes, or candles, sandalwood offers many qualities that make it an appealing and expensive wood. The smell of the wood is long lingering, meaning woodworking projects created with it will deliver the familiar scent for years after they’re crafted.

Beyond woodworking, sandalwood has a long history tied to its use for natural remedies and medicines within Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Sandalwood can be found across Asia and Australia, and there are over 25 species.

While sandalwood is primarily harvested for its oils, this wood is also used as flooring and to create furniture, chests, and boxes. Its many uses have led to over-harvesting of the trees, and this is the reason for the high price of this wood.

Bocote ($100 per Board Foot)

wood stump

Bocote is a canopy tree that can reach 100 feet in height and is found across Central and South America, though it is best known for its growth in Mexico. The wood is typically a light yellow with dark brown graining and naturally darkens over time. This wood is known for its striking, high-contrasting grain and for being easy to work with. The grain has many knots in the pattern, adding to the aesthetic appeal, but unlike most woods, the knots are unlikely to cause problems while working on a project. This leads to a luxurious and expensive-looking finish that makes it perfect for high-end furniture and cabinetry projects.

Snakewood ($350 per Board Foot)

Snakewood is an eye-catching wood type that can be found in South America. The wood comes from an acacia tree and visibly takes after its namesake thanks to its coloring and patterns resembling a snake’s scales and patterns. The wood is red-brown, with contrasting colors that range from darker brown to black in a snake-like pattern.

Snakewood is a dense option that can be hard on tools and delicate to work with since it is brittle and easily splinters, which contributes to its high price. The driving factor behind the cost of this wood is that it’s a small, rare tree that requires a lot of cutting to find usable wood.

This wood is commonly used for small, fine projects like violin bows.

Agarwood ($1200 per Board Foot)

Agarwood is, without a doubt, the most expensive wood on this list. For most of us, it would require winning the lottery or a big prize at one of the best-paying online casinos just to get a few shavings of it. Agarwood has earned its high price tag because, as contrary as it might sound, it doesn’t simply grow on trees. There’s a whole process and an additional organism needed.

An Aquilaria tree must be infected by a fungus to get agarwood. Once infected, the tree will produce resin to protect itself, and this resin will transform the wood into agarwood. The process takes years to complete and is now done artificially since it’s believed almost all natural occurrences of agarwood have been harvested.

You also might recognize agarwood by one of its other names like eaglewood, oud, aloeswood, or possibly even as “the wood of the Gods,” thanks to its many spiritual connections. Much like sandalwood, this wood has ties to traditional medicines and today is primarily used for its essential oil.

With Expense Comes Quality

While each variety of wood here is expensive, they all offer rare qualities that are highly sought after. It’s these qualities that make them stand out from their more widely available counterparts and have earned them their high price tags.

Author - Nurlana Alasgarli
Nurlana Alasgarli           

Content Specialist

Nurlana Alasgarli is a professional copywriter with more than 6 years of creative writing experience. Having lived and experienced all over the world, there are many writing genres that Nurlana follows, including nature, arts and crafts and the outdoors. Nurlana brings life to content creation, captivating her readers.


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