Marble Chess Sets Guide (About, Buying, Care)

Marble chess sets are an elegant and beautiful way to enjoy a game of chess.

A marble board, in combination with the pieces made from a natural stone like marble, is a stunning addition to any room or decoration.

But not all marble chess sets are created equal – there are many factors that you need to consider when buying one for yourself or as a gift.

In this article, I will discuss how durable they are, what to look out for when choosing one, depending on its use, how best to clean them, and what materials make the most suitable pieces for your set.

Staunton Brass and marble chess set
More details on this beautiful chess set and board below

What is a marble chess set and why do people love them so much?

A marble chess set is a chess set where the decorative pieces are made from marble, and sometimes even with some kind of inlay on top.

Generally, marble chess sets are used for display purposes rather than actual play – they look stunning but can be more expensive, fragile, or difficult to use depending on their design.

Stone chess sets made from marble are often decorative centerpieces for a table in a room, but can also look pretty cool in a sideboard in an executive office for chess connoisseurs.

To keep them looking stunning, your marble chess set should be cared for and cleaned regularly, something I will come to later in this article.

So let’s assume you have decided what you want your marble set for. It could be a gift, a decorative item in a modern design or perhaps you are a chess player who enjoys playing over the board chess and would like to be able to do so on this set. What should you be looking for?

How to choose a marble chess set that suits you and your needs

Where does one start looking for marble chess sets? Perhaps you have spotted one in a store, or maybe in the background of a Movie or TV show, you may even have a friend of a neighbor whose marble chess set you have spotted and fancy getting one for yourself.

What to look for in a marble chess set

Depending on what your chess set will be used for, provides a different set of questions and considerations when buying, and it could be that you are looking for marble pieces on a wooden chess board.

For decorative purposes at home or in the office

The most common use for a marble chess set is for its decorative qualities as opposed to the classic game.

There are many styles, looks and even colors than can be achieved with marble chess sets, and this provides great versatility when matching up with the decor in the room you wish to use it.

When buying a marble chess set for decoration you should consider :

How easy it will be to maintain and clean the set?

Marble needs cleaning regularly and maintaining, as it will deteriorate quickly if left uncared for. Consider this. if it is to be placed on a shelf in an office, does that area benefit from regular dusting and cleaning care. It’s a small commitment, but one that has to be considered.

What size of marble chess board do you want?

Marble boards come in a variety of sizes from small, to very large indeed. If space is not an issue then go for the biggest one – it will certainly impress anyone who sees your set! Conversely, if the room is tight consider going for a smaller board so as to save on storage and transportation.

How much will it cost?

The price of marble chess sets varies greatly depending on the brand and style. There are cheaper options that can work just as well for decoration, but you should expect to pay at least $50-100 for a good quality decorative marble board that also has matching pieces. It is possible to go up in price depending on how ornate you want to get with the design and additional features.

As a functional chess set for playing

Some things to consider if you are looking for a marble chess set for actual play. It may be worth considering mixing up marble and wood

What are the marble chess pieces made of?

Marble is often used for decorative purposes, but it can be quite brittle and breakable. If you want to play over the board then consider buying a different design that has more durable materials in its construction such as wood or stone.

For playing purposes on an actual chessboard (not just decorative) you should consider :

Are the pieces weighted?

This is important for two reasons – firstly so that they don’t fall over during play, but more importantly because lighter marble chess pieces can be knocked over very easily by accident. This means your opponent could claim moves incorrectly and it will spoil the chess game!

To avoid this ensure all your marble chess pieces are weighted with a metal bottom, or at the very least have their bases shaped in a way that makes them harder to knock over.

(It’s also worth noting here you should be careful where your marble chess set is played if there are heavy drinkers around!)

Is it uniform? Before buying ensure all pieces are the same size, weight and color. This is more essential for decorative purposes, but it’s nice to play chess with a nice set too.

Is it marble or another material?

When buying and paying for a marble chess set, one would want to ensure it is in fact marble and not another polished stone of a much cheaper quality then you are paying for.

It seems obvious, and unless skilled it can be hard to tell if it is real marble or not. For this purpose you should really try to buy from a reputable seller whether than be in-store or online.

As a gift

If you are buying a marble chess set as a gift, then there is even more to consider before spending your hard-earned money on something that may or may not be appreciated.

When thinking about the person receiving the gift of a marble chess set, ask yourself some questions :

Do they even like chess?

It’s ok to own a chess set for decorative purposes even if you don’t know how to play the game, or even play infrequently. Whilst you may appreciate the look of this marble chess set, is it something that the person receiving the gift would feel as thankful for?

Do they Like Marble – Have they other marble decorative items in their house?

Perhaps you are buying the marble chess set gift because you ‘think’ it would be something they would like.

Have considered if they like the look of marble. Perhaps consider if they have any other marble items on display in the house, the room you have in mind or the office.

There is nothing worse than giving someone a gift they don;t really like, which they hide away and get out especially for when you are visiting.

Would a marble chess set match their decorative style?

You can avoid that awkward situation by considering if Marble would match the decorative style of their home or office in the first place – if on reflection you think a marble chess set would look odd or out of place, then consider thinking of another gift idea that you can be more confident would be more suitable for them.

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Where can I buy quality marble chess set for my home or office

Below is some information on some classic quality sets, with some fantastic display pieces, finishing with an outstanding complete set on marble board that will work for both display and can be played on.

Black and White Marble Chess Set

Black and white marble chess set
  • MATERIAL: This chess set is fully handmade from high quality marble onyx. Chess Board & Chess Figures are fully hand polished.
  • SIZE: Board Size: 12 Inches. King Measures: 2.75 Inches. Queen: 2.25 Inches. Bishop: 2 Inches. Knight: 2 Inches. Rook: 2 Inches. Pawns: 1.75 Inches. Chess Board comes along with attached felt bottom to avoid scratches. Seperate felt bottoms packet for all chess figures.

See Amazon

Black and Fossil Marble Set

A black and fossil marble chess set
  • MATERIAL: This chess set is fully handmade from high quality marble onyx. Chess Board & Chess Figures are fully hand polished.
  • SIZE: Board Size: 15 Inches. King Measures: 3.5 Inches. Queen: 3 Inches. Bishop: 2.75 Inches. Knight: 2.75 Inches. Rook: 2.5 Inches. Pawns: 2.25 Inches. Chess Board comes along with attached felt bottom to avoid scratches. Seperate felt bottoms packet for all chess figures.

See Amazon

White and Green Onyx Chess Set

Decorative white and gree marble chess set
  • MATERIAL: This chess set is fully handmade from high quality marble onyx. Chess Board & Chess Figures are fully hand polished.
  • SIZE: Board Size: 15 Inches. King Measures: 3 Inches. Queen: 2.75 Inches. Bishop: 2.5 Inches. Knight: 2.5 Inches. Pawns: 2 Inches. Chess Board comes along with attached felt bottom to avoid scratches. Seperate felt bottoms packet for all chess figures.

See Amazon

Classic Staunton Solid Brass Chess Set with Tuscan Marble Chess Case

Fantastic for Both Display and Play!

A quite stunning staunton brass chess set on marble and wooden board

This Staunton chess set from Italfama is constructed of solid brass and nickel-plated steel. The pieces are big and hefty, with a beautiful form and distinctive characteristics.

The chess case is beautifully designed and skillfully constructed by the craftsmen of Italfama and compliments the richness of the brass pieces. The case features a solid fruit hardwood frame with an elegant molded profile surrounding a beautiful brown and white Tuscan marble chess board on top. It has a single drawer with two compartments for storing the chess pieces. Large round legs elevate the case highlighting every aspect of its elegant shape and design. The brown squares of the Tuscan marble chess board are a mix of brown colors intermingled with darker veins creating unique and colorful patterns.

Chess Pieces:

  • Material: Solid Brass, White Pieces Nickel Plated
  • King Height: 3″
  • King Base: 1″ 
  • Chess Set Weight: ~8 Lbs.
  • Felt Pads

Chess Board:

  • Material: Tuscan Marble, Fruit hardwood, and other wood materials
  • Overall Dimensions: 18.125″ x 4.25″ Tall
  • Drawer Inside Dimensions: 9.25″ Wide x 13.375″ Long x 1.375″ Tall
  • Chess Board Size: 14.375″
  • Square Size 1.75″
  • Weight: 10 Lbs.
  • Made in Italy

More Information

Marble Chess Set Care Guide

Marble is a porous material that holds dust, if you can’t regularly wipe your marble chess pieces over with a duster damp cloth then you may need to consider buying another product altogether.

If you are prepared to take care of your display marble chess set then, here are a few tips to keep it looking its best in pristine condition.

But before we start getting the cleaning products out, the marble chess set may be old, or expensive and we should be sure of what it is we are about to clean what to use and what products to avoid using when undertaking general maintainence.

Types of marble

The type of marble should not be too concerning when it comes to cleaning, all marble is produced by the same natural process.

The color of the marble may range from the white and cream hues of classic sculpture to pinks, greens, grays, browns, and yellows.

Marble is made from limestone that has undergone extreme heat or pressure recrystallization. This process creates a solid structure of tiny elements packed incredibly tightly together which allows for the smooth finish and polished surface of the rock.

The variations in color are simply down to whatever impurities were present in the original limestone.

Used for all manner of decorative purposes thanks to its strength and durability, marble chess sets can become a super accompaniment to Marble fireplaces, Clocks, light fittings, and more

Common problems

Be especially careful with marble chess boards when cleaning.

Marble is both heavy and brittle. When these factors are combined with poor handling when cleaning vigorously, the marble is liable to break. Smaller objects like marble chess pieces may be made in a single piece, this does make them more durable and less likely to break than a marble chess board which will have been constructed by gluing different colored marble together to gain the 8 x8 checked board effect

Avoid veined marble wherever possible for chess sets. Whilst it provides additional decorative qualities, for a set that will be on display and therefore cleaned with some regularity, or worse still played with, the veining also makes it more fragile.

Traditional cleaning methods and products like Lemon juice, vinegar, and wine can etch the surface and remove the polish. Repeated exposure may erode the surface still further so avoid these.

Liquid cleaning

Solvents – take care!

There are numerous solvents, (not distilled water of course), on the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Register. Before using these products, you should read the instructions and warning labels carefully.

  • White spirit is excellent for wax and oil stains.
  • 2% non-ionic detergent can be found in chemist stores.
  • Use Distilled water for cleaning or as a neutral rinse element.

Gloves (plastic or Nitrile, not fabric) should be worn to protect the hands, work should be carried out in a very well ventilated area, and the minimum amount of solvent should be used.

Work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective clothing including gloves and goggles.

Decant small amounts for use into glass or ceramic containers to prevent polluting your bulk supply. This also serves for safe handling.

Basic liquid cleaning

Unpainted marble may be cleaned with white spirit or a combination of deionised (purified) water and up to 2% non-ionic detergent, according to the manufacturer.

An equal mix of water and white spirit with up to 2% non-ionic detergent can be used for stubborn locations.

When cleaning with deionised water, use slightly dampened cotton swabs and start in a little region. Use fresh one as often as possible. This will prevent moving the dirt from one place and moving it into another porous area of the marble.

Newer, highly polished marble will withstand absorbing liquid and dirt better than older marble which may have degraded over time and built up more porousity.

Dry cleaning

Cleaning your marble dry by simply dusting regularly is a better option, particularly with older marble or less polished product.

If you can employ a regiualr dusting routine, it will be better in the long term for your marble chess set and see less grime build up

Avoid Domestic Cleaning products and Abrasives

Whilst marble may seem very hard, indeed it is, the fact that is is limestone should not be forgotten and for that reason, always avoid chemicals, and abrasives that are often found in domestic cleaning products – These items are not the friend of a marble chess set.

Are Marble Chess Sets Worth It?

Marble chess sets are worth consideration as decorative items over practical sets to be utilized for gameplay looking stunning for display purposes but a little too fragile for regular game play. Stick to wooden or synthetic pieces when playing which can be used on the marble chess board if desired.

Check out my other article on wooden boards, You can buy your marble material pieces separately and play them on wooden boards just as well. You’ll find many wooden boards will have a high polished finish in beautiful designs.

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