Knives have a persuasive claim to being one of the most important inventions ever made. After all, knives were some of the first tools to come into existence, meaning that their impact on the human experience is so fundamental that the world wouldn’t be recognizable without them. In fact, it is interesting to note that there were periods in which everyone carried their own knives, which were used for eating as well as a wide range of other potential uses.
There Have Been Some Very Expensive Knives
As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that a lot of people put a lot of value in their knives. Something that was particularly true in the past when there were no machines that could be used to extract huge volumes of raw materials before turning them into an abundance of useful products that our ancestors couldn’t have imagined in their wildest fantasies.
For instance, there were a lot of resources that went into the making of stone tools. First, some stones are suitable for making tools while others are not, meaning that interested individuals had to start by finding a source of suitable stone. Second, there was a lot of skill involved in the making of stone tools, not least because a bad strike at a bad angle could ruin hours and hours of hard work in an instant. As such, while we might not have much regard for stone knives, those of our ancestors who relied on such tools for their continuing survival would have been much more cognizant of their considerable value.
Said state of things continued for a long, long time. For example, one of the first metals that saw widespread use for tool-making was bronze. However, bronze had a serious problem in that it wasn’t a pure metal but rather a creation of copper and tin. Copper was very widespread and remains very widespread. In contrast, tin was much, much rarer, which explains why Bronze Age trade routes are known to have extended as far as Britain. Even when people started using the much more readily available iron, the making of such tools still required sufficient expertise, experience, and other resources that most people would have treated them as something of considerable importance.
With that said, while knives themselves were valuable, increasing capabilities resulted in increasing ornamentation as well. This can be seen in Tutankhamen’s famous knife made out of meteoric iron, which was paired with a haft that was ornamented using precious gold. For that matter, this can be seen in a wide range of other knives belonging to a wide range of other elite individuals across different times and different places because one of the true human constants is a love of lavish ornamentation.
Of course, this fondness for lavish ornamentation still exists in modern times. For proof, look no further than the Gem of the Orient, which can claim the honor of being the most expensive knife made in modern times so far at a value of $2.1 million.
What Is the Gem of the Orient?
The Gem of the Orient is the creation of a man named Buster Warenski. In short, Warenski became fascinated by knife-making in the 1960s when he saw a knife made by a custom knife-maker named Gil Hibben. As a result, Warenski experimented enough to make his own knife. After which, he proceeded to show it to Hibben, who in turn, made the fateful decision to teach some of the basic knife-making techniques to Warenski. Due to this, Warenski was put on the path to becoming a custom knife-maker.
Initially, Warenski is known to have made a wide range of knives for a wide range of clients. However, he went on to become someone famous for his so-called “Art Knives,” which he put his full focus into by 1975. Out of these creations, the single most famous example is the Gem of the Orient, which possesses a very high value because of a number of factors.
First, the knife is made out of precious materials. Primarily, this means the nine diamonds plus the 153 emeralds that were incorporated into its making, which were paired with gold filigree as well as a jade handle for greater value than the sum of these individual parts. However, it should also be noted that the Gem of the Orient possesses what has been called a blade of Damascus steel. Since the method used to make Damascus steel has been lost for centuries and centuries, this presumably means a steel with similar-looking mottled patterns on its surface that make it look just as appealing as the authentic material.
Second, it is clear that Warenski put huge effort into the making of the knife. In total, the Gem of Orient is said to have taken him 10 years, which explains why Warenski never managed to finish the fourth knife in the same series. As for why the knife took him so long to make, well, it seems safe to say that it had something to do with the fact that he preferred making everything for his knives on his own. Something that must have taken up even more time because of the sheer amount of detail incorporated into the finished product.
For the time being, the Gem of the Orient holds the top spot when it comes to being the most expensive knife that can be found in the entire world. However, it is possible that it will be beaten out by something similar at some point in the future. After all, there are plenty of people out there who are interested in knives as well as lavish ornamentation, meaning that it isn’t difficult to imagine someone coming up with something even more extravagant in nature. Unfortunately, the complexities of calculating value over different times and different places makes it difficult to determine the prices of various daggers from the past. Otherwise, that might have made for some interesting comparisons as well.