mahjong

Photos: Louis Vuitton, Geoffrey Parker

Step into the rich tapestry of Chinese culture, and you’ll encounter the ancient game of mahjong — a fascinating pastime woven through the centuries. The roots of mahjong stretch back to China in the mid-1800s, towards the end of the Qing Dynasty. The game’s exact origins remain shrouded in mystery — although a popular story is that it was created by the famous philosopher Confucius.

Mahjong’s distinct allure lies in its intricate tiles, each bearing a symbolic significance that mirrors the nuances of Chinese tradition. The set comprises 144 tiles featuring characters, bamboo, circles, winds, dragons, and seasons. The captivating visuals and meaningful symbols create a mosaic of Chinese symbolism, fostering strategic gameplay that has garnered enthusiasts worldwide.

The game’s popularity soared during the early 20th century, finding a place in homes, teahouses, and social gatherings across China. Mahjong became a cultural phenomenon; not just a game, but a communal tradition that brought people together. Its immersive nature, blending strategy and luck, resonates with players of all ages.

Fast forward to the present, the game has transcended its historical roots, becoming a cherished tradition during the Lunar New Year festivities. Families gather around tables adorned with ornate sets, the rhythmic clack of tiles mingling with joyous laughter. As the Chinese New Year approaches, the anticipation builds, and aficionados seek the perfect mahjong set to usher in the Year of the Dragon.

In the spirit of this upcoming celebration, we explore a selection of luxury mahjong sets — crafted with precision and adorned with opulence. These sets seamlessly blend tradition with contemporary aesthetics, allowing enthusiasts to elevate their mahjong experience to a new level of sophistication.

1. L’Aquart X S.T. Dupont

mahjong
Photo: S.T. Dupont

Starting off strong, this £795,000 ($1.34 million) opulent mahjong set was handcrafted over eight months. The 144 extra-large tiles are made of solid blocks of Tanzanian ruby — a gemstone that signals the fiery energy of the sun, nobility, and royalty. It’s also believed to bring prosperity and protection and keep one healthy and beautiful.

The protective metalwork for the ruby tiles is intricately engraved and hand-hammered in gold vermeil — a colour symbolising the five legendary emperors of ancient China, associated with neutrality and good luck. Each tile, adorned on both faces, boasts over 1,000 Burmese rubies and 300 top-quality diamonds, imparting an extra layer of opulence.

For playing counters, meticulously carved black or white mother-of-pearl coins feature gold vermeil borders. The dice, serving as integral components of the game, are exquisitely carved in ruby. One die showcases large, faceted Burma rubies for the numbers, while the other is adorned with pave-set diamonds. Both dice are impeccably protected by corners fashioned in gold vermeil, enhancing the overall luxurious aesthetic of the set.

Each set is homed in a custom-made mahogany wood box with an ebony veneer.

Find out more here.

2. Tiffany & Co.

mahjong
Photo: Tiffany & Co.

Photos of this mahjong set have made their rounds, and we’re confident that its Tiffany Blue hue will be a conversation starter at any family reunion. Priced at a handsome USD$15,000 ($20,131), this cheery-coloured set comes with everything you need for a night of mahjong — from tiles, scoring sticks, and dice — and all crafted in sterling silver, American walnut, and leather.

Once you’re done winning, the entire set can be stored in its leather box with a functional lock and two keys.

Find out more here.

3. Hermès

mahjong
Photo: Hermès

This Macao Mahjong Game wooden set is crafted in Indonesia and features a box lid and handles in leather marquetry (evercolour calfskin and lizard). It’s a hefty keepsake — not only in price at USD$11,700 but also in weight, with 144 tiles in solid mahogany and cassia wood with laser engraving and a wind dice in hand-engraved solid mahogany.

The set is completed with dice in ebony with maple wood inlay and five solid mahogany trays.

Find out more here.

4. Louis Vuitton

mahjong
Photo: Louis Vuitton

As its name suggests, the Vanity Mahjong set is gorgeous enough to put on display to admire when it’s not game time. Made by hand in Corian® — a combination of natural minerals and high-quality acrylics — and wood, it comes with 144 tiles, five spare tiles, four wooden rulers and dice each, and six drawers.

With every tile featuring the brand’s signature “LV” monogram on the back in gold, it might very well be the $81,500 price tag if your aim is to impress.

Find out more here.

5. Geoffrey Parker

mahjong
Photo: Geoffrey Parker

While Geoffrey Parker’s luxury mahjong set can’t match the eye-watering prices of the previous entries (coming in at only £3,125), it sets itself apart by allowing customers to customise their preference for lock colour and ostrich leather colour. To create these one-of-a-kind sets, they partnered with China’s foremost mahjong artist, Liu Jun.

Each tile is carved in beautiful ox bone and bamboo and set in Geoffrey Parker’s signature leather attaché case with a black suede interior. Alternatively, you can opt to customise your mahjong set with exotic leather choices, which come with additional custom fees.

Find out more here.