What are the most expensive knives in the world?
The world’s finest blacksmiths have hand-forged exceptional knives over the centuries, blending the best Damascus steel with the finest jewels and precious metals available.
Read on to discover the most expensive knives you can buy, from rare and ancient knives dating back hundreds of years to twentieth-century ornate daggers forged with the finest materials.
The Most Expensive Knives in the World
The precious metals and jewels used by master artisans, as well as the illustrious owners of these exceptional knives, have all been researched to bring you this definitive article.
Here’s our list of the 10 most expensive knives in the world:
10. Gentak Makara Knife – $12,500
The Gentak Makara knife is the creation of William Henry, who has been making kitchen knives as well as jewelry and other accessories since 1997.
This hand-engraved knife features 24-karat gold inlays created by Joanne Ryall, including a one-hand button lock and thumb stud with spinels – a type of gemstone – set into it.
As with the most expensive precious metals, spinel gemstones are sought after by collectors and dealers alike and can be found as octahedral crystals in their natural form.
These precious gems are accompanied by walnut wood, giving this elegant knife a wonderful contrast of materials, in addition to its excellent cutting performance.
Housed in a leather sheath with a stainless steel pocket clip, the Gentak Makara knife is made from hand-forged “Hornet’s Nest” Damascus steel, with a hydra engraved on its handle.
In addition to the leather sheath, the William Henry Gentak Makara knife also comes in an elegant wooden box, making it an all-around stunning package for those who can afford the $12,500 price tag.
9. Monarch Steampunk Dragon Knife – $18,500
Another stunning knife from William Henry is the Monarch Steampunk Dragon knife, manufactured in conjunction with Mark Hoescht and Mike Norris.
As its name implies, this luxury knife is inspired by the steampunk aesthetic, with sculptural details including pistons and other mechanically-inspired forms.
These micro-engraved details are constructed from a combination of 24-karat gold and copper inlays, which lends the knife a varied color and texture.
As with the Gentak Makara knife, the Monarch Steampunk Dragon knife features fine hand engraving from Mike Norris throughout its Damascus steel build, enhanced by touches of silver.
There’s also a one-hand button lock and thumb stud, making this knife easy to operate and ensuring a secure grip.
Described by William Henry as a knife that features a rich and intricate balance between elegance and function and superlative artistry,” this stunning blade costs a cool $18,500.
8. Spearpoint Lace Knife – $25,000
Blacksmith William Henry’s Spearpoint Lace knife is another hand-forged Damascus steel blade featuring a handle encrusted with 24-karat gold.
Created with the assistance of Chad Nichols, this expensive knife costs an impressive $25,000, which is comparable to some of the most expensive alcoholic drinks in the world.
In addition to the expensive Boomerang Damascus steel used for the blade, the lace design involves intricate engraving at the microscopic level to achieve its gorgeous look.
With a blade measuring just 3.06″, it’s an excellent choice for people looking to expand their collection of expensive pocket knives with something guaranteed to impress.
Craftsman Mario Terzi worked closely with William Henry to engrave this exquisite knife, securing his reputation as one of the world’s leading hand engravers.
As with the other knives from this company, it’s housed in a high-quality leather carrying case and wooden presentation box.
The result is a remarkably detailed design constructed from the best quality materials and designed to last several generations.
7. Catherine II Naval Dirk – $27,000
Russian leader Catherine II – also known as Catherine the Great – was no stranger to wealth and luxury, reigning for over 30 years during a period of Russian expansion.
The naval Dirk knife, crafted during the period of her reign, is surprisingly simple in appearance, with none of the opulence found on some of the other expensive knives in the world.
Its value derives not from rich gemstones or the use of precious metals but rather from its historical significance and rarity.
This was a practical knife used by naval officers for hand-to-hand combat and personal protection and housed in a black leather sheath when not in use.
Its steel blade bears the stamp of the imperial coat of arms of Catherine the Great on one side, with an anchor on the other side to indicate its use in the navy.
Auctioned by Christie’s auction house in 2008, the Catherine II naval Dirk knife, sold for $27,000, considerably higher than the estimated value of $8,000.
6. Nesmuk Jahrhundert Messer – $98,934
The Jahrhundert Messer knife from German company Nesmuk is the most expensive kitchen knife in the world, with a blade by master forger Lars Scheidler.
Made from Damascus steel and with an edge of carbon steel, the Damascus is flattened into 640 layers to make an exceptionally sharp knife ideally suited for high-end chefs.
Its handle is made from 5,000-year-old bog oak, which delivers a strength comparable to that of stone since this oak has been underwater for several centuries.
But the real attraction to the Jahrhundert Messer knife – and the reason for its astronomical price – is the inclusion of 25 diamonds that decorate its platinum edging.
These diamonds, which cost as much as some of the most expensive engagement rings, help push the price of this knife to just under $100,000.
For the money, buyers are also treated to a luxurious piano lacquer box, making it an excellent gift for those who enjoy cooking with the very best kitchen knives available.
5. Anthony Bourdain’s Kramer Knife – $231,250
Anthony Bourdain needs little in the way of introduction to anyone with even a passing interest in cooking, and his Kramer knife sold for an outstanding $231,250 at an auction in 2019.
Renowned for working in both the most expensive restaurants in the world, and bustling street pop-up street food outlets, Bourdain sadly passed away, and his possessions sold at auction in a lot worth $1.8 million.
His knife, made by American-based swordsmith Bob Kramer, is considered one of the best knives in the world, forged in Kramer’s personal workshop.
Kramer – a personal friend of Bourdain’s – produces knives that are considerably cheaper than the ones sold at auction, with his standard knives going for between $4,000 and $6,000.
Other items which belonged to Bourdain sold in the auction lot included an antique Peter Lovig Nielsen teak flip-top desk, a watercolor from John Lurie, and a chrome duck press.
Following his death, Bourdain was awarded two posthumous Emmy Awards for his hit series Parts Unknown.
4. Teddy Roosevelt’s Hunting Knife – $414,000
As with Anthony Bourdain’s chef’s knife, Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting knife fetched its high price because of its famous owner rather than the materials it’s made from.
While Roosevelt is today considered a source of some controversy, with his statues being removed from public display, his iconic hunting knife still managed to fetch $414,000 at an auction in 2016.
The creation of J. Russell & Co. of Massachusetts, the knife was a gift to Roosevelt from his friend and companion, New York Supreme Court Justice James W. Gerard.
It features a delicately hand-crafted gold and platinum handle, which finishes at the hilt in the shape of an eagle and a compass and square emblem on the handle’s shaft.
At the time it was constructed, this knife cost around $1,250, which is approximately $33,266 in 2022 currency.
An avid hunter throughout his life, Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting knifing serves as a testament to the man who served as US President from 1901 to 1909.
3. Qianlong Imperial Hunting Knife – $1.2 Million
Another rare and expensive hunting knife of decidedly different provenance to the one owned by Teddy Roosevelt is the Qianlong Imperial hunting knife, which comes from 18th century China.
Sporting the kind of elegant detailing found on some of the most expensive luxury pens, the Qianlong Imperial hunting knife features a blade made from the highest quality steel.
The antelope horn hilt can be opened up, revealing a hidden compartment used to hold a pair of chopsticks and a toothpick.
The horn is noted for its brown and cream-colored patterns, with a gilt band of florets and leaves inset with turquoise glass cabochon.
Such hilts are incredibly rare, and the Qianlong Imperial hunting knife pairs this with an equally sought-after rhinoceros horn scabbard.
While hunting knives such as these were indeed used for hunting initially, they were later used as part of the Manchu ceremonial attire, as well as at banquets as an indication of Manchu identity.
With its fine cutting edge and rich history, the Qianlong Imperial hunting knife fetched an impressive $1.2 million when sold in a Sotheby’s auction in 2009.
2. The Gem Of The Orient – $2.1 Million
The creation of American knife-maker Buster Warenski, the Gem of the Orient epitomizes the “art knives” concept with its use of expensive metals and gemstones.
This knife features an impressive 150 emeralds, along with nine diamonds, gold, and even jade.
Considered to be one of Buster’s key legacy knives, the Gem of the Orient was commissioned by a Japanese businessman and took around twelve years to painstakingly piece together.
Eight hundred grams of gold were used in the construction of this knife, with the emeralds and diamonds cascading over the surface of the blade and the jade handle, adding the finishing touch.
This staggering knife sports a single-edge blade forged with exceptional attention to detail, with an incredibly sharp cutting edge on par with carbon steel.
Warenski, whose workshop was in Kimberley, Nevada, began making knives in 1973 but sadly passed away on July 31st, 2005.
The Gem of the Orient was at one time the most expensive knife in the world, priced at an eye-watering $2.1 million, but was knocked off the top spot by the Shah Jahan dagger in 2019.
1. The Shah Jahan Dagger – $3.3 Million
In contrast to the Gem of the Orient, the Shah Jahan Dagger is an unassuming knife that lacks the obvious fine gemstones and precious metals, which would indicate its high price.
But this is, in fact, the most expensive knife in the world, with a hilt made in the early 17th century and considered to be one of the masterpieces of Moghul art.
The hilt itself is carved from exquisite jade stone, the kind of material you might find in some of the most expensive watches in the world, and features scrolling designs inlaid in gold at the tip of the blade.
While the name Shah Jahan implies an eastern origin, the carved jade head is of European origin and is said to have been made – or at least influenced – by European lapidaries who worked at the Mughal court.
This head represents Shah Jahan himself, the fifth Mughal emperor of India who reigned between 1628 and 1658 and ushered in an era of exceptional architecture.
His best-known monument is the Taj Mahal in Agra, while the record-breaking sale of his dagger at Christie’s for $3.3 million is a fitting achievement for the man considered to be the wealthiest person in history.
The most expensive knives in the world earn their high price through extravagance and their association with some of the leading figures in world history.
From the gold and diamond-encrusted Gem of the Orient to the celebrated knives of William Henry, we’ve covered the best knives money can buy.
As rare and valuable knives continue to hit the big auction houses, be sure to check back on this article for the latest updates.
Here’s a quick recap of the 10 most expensive knives in the world:
- The Shah Jahan Dagger
- The Gem of the Orient
- Qianlong Imperial hunting knife
- Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting knife
- Anthony Bourdain’s Kramer knife
- Nesmuk Jahrhundert Messer
- Catherine II Naval Dirk
- Spearpoint Lace knife
- Monarch Steampunk Dragon knife
- Gentak Makara knife