Kynam Agarwood in the Modern Market

RanJyaTai Shosoin

In all my years of woodworking, kynam continues to be the type of word that most fascinates and impresses me. Kynam, also known as agarwood or aloeswood, is unlike any other type of wood. It is deeply aromatic and it’s smell is unlike anything else. People who are knowledgeable the use of aromatic wood in incense view it as the gold standard. The Japanese place it above even sandalwood.

Even miniscule fragments of this material are incredibly rare to find. It would be more common to find a four-leaf clover, or even a diamond. If you are lucky enough to find a tiny fragment of kynam agarwood, you could sell it and make hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on it’s size.

Due to its demand, in recent years the Vietnamese have been searching far and wide for kynam trees. So far, their efforts have mostly been fruitless. However, due to its extreme value, as long as the possibility is still there, these people will continue to search. In fact, many people know that the proceeds from even a very small piece of kynam aloeswood could change their life in Vietnam. So, it is easy to see why many view kynam wood as not just any other piece of wood.

A Brief Overview Of The History Of Kynam

The Kynam Tree has been a staple of Chinese culture for thousands of years. During the Song Dynasty, 1 tael (50 grams) of agarwood was worth 1 tael of gold. By the time the Ming Dynasty had started, agarwood was even more coveted, and the value had changed to 1 inch of agarwood is as valuable as 1 inch of gold. 

Today, the wood is rarer than ever making it even more valuable. A single gram of sinking-grade kynam agarwood is several times more valuable than the current price of gold. In the Chinese market, it might be twenty times more valuable. In the hands of the right buyer, potentially even more.

What Makes Kynam Special?

Kynam agarwood is valuable for a variety of reasons. It holds historical significance and has been a major part of Chinese culture across multiple dynasties. Furthermore, this specific grade of aloeswood is unique thanks to its properties and fragrances. The Japanese have a grading scale known as the Rikkoku Gomi which helps distinguish between the various grades. They have their own history with agarwood as well.

Today, it is mostly used as incense or for Japanese incense ceremonies. Some of these incense sticks can cost hundreds of dollars per box.

The Chinese often say you need 3 lifetimes of good luck before you will have a chance to encounter a real kynam tree and 8 lifetimes before you can fully appreciate the depth of it’s fragrance.

Suffice to say, the price of kynam agarwood is incredibly high because the wood is so rare and illustrious.

Current Price Of Kynam Agarwood Oil

When it comes to rare materials, it is hard to beat kynam. In fact, it is such a rare wood that no one is really sure as to how it is formed. In addition, the people of Asia have long associated relics and objects made from kynam to spirituality. An example would be the popular kynam bead bracelet.

As of right now, traces of kynam are extremely rare. In oil or aromatic form, it is often selling for $300+ USD a gram.

Agarwood Harvests And Plantations

Kynam is a true rarity of the world, and has seen a recent increase in interest. Due to kynam’s corresponding price-tag, it will probably never be widely available. However, farmers have figured out a way to manually infect these trees with the bacteria which causes the resin formation. The quality of the resin in this wood is nowhere near kynam quality, but it is still decent enough for normal use.

This has caused investors in Vietnam and nearby regions to invest significant amounts of capital into agarwood plantations. These investors and manufacturers are dedicated to bringing the wood back so that it can be offered to the common public for its potential healing and relaxing benefits. 

At a farm, wood chips of agarwood are available at various prices. However, the price on the farm is very different from the reseller price. By the time it reaches the customer, it could be double or even triple this amount.

Hold your horses though, the process from growth to harvest is not an easy one. And by no means a quick one. It takes anywhere from four to five years to harvest a tree after planting. Harvests are usually very small.

Today, 80% of agarwood is imported to China, and most of that wood comes from the Vietnam region. Investors all throughout these areas have started agarwood plantations, but they have been unable to replicate the same quality. Hopefully they will able to advance their farming techniques, thus bringing down the price and availability.

I hope you found this information beneficial.

Main image taken from Wikipedia.

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