I love to play chess. Some of my favorite sets were handcrafted and painted by my long deceased grandmother. Chess set pieces can be simple or highly elaborate. Many are pure art forms. Stone, wood, glass and plastics are common materials. Many sets are themed and we have seen sets referencing great battles between King Arthur, Civil War soldiers and even Looney Tunes cartoon characters.
Here is a great link http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/exquisite-chess-sets/