How To Identify Fake Mammoth Ivory?

The intensely high demand for ivory and high prices has created a niche market for fake ivory. However, even though most people pay exorbitant prices to purchase ivory, most of the time they are unable to differentiate between real mammoth ivory and fake sculptures which mimic all of the nuances of real ivory to a layman. Here are some non-invasive methods to identify fakes and real ivory:

•    Using a jeweler’s magnifying glass to studying the ivory sculpture, start looking for pores or little streaks of brown and if you find it, it is not ivory but bone.

•    Another good method is listening to the sound by tapping on the sculpture. Plastic, bone and ivory make different sounds when tapped.

•    The older the ivory is the more yellow hues it has. Take the saliva test. Lick your finger and rub it over the ‘antique ivory’ sculpture. If you find yellow or brown color on your finger, you can be sure that the ivory or any other material has been colored to make it look older than it really is. As saliva has a variety of chemicals, this test only works with it.

•    The hot-pin test. Heat a pin and put it at the bottom of the sculpture. Plastic and other synthetic materials will get a dent but genuine ivory will not have any mark.

•    You can take a look at inherent cross hatch pattern of mammoth ivory which is clearly visible at the bottom or at a point where it is smooth. These are known as Schreger Lines.

•    Look for air-bubbles or tiny craters. If there are any visible, you can know that it is fake ivory made out of synthetic material that has been poured.

Is It Illegal To Sell Ivory?

Well, it is a very pertinent question and we get a host of queries from people all over the world asking whether the sale of ivory is illegal. However, I’ll like to clarify that ONLY elephant ivory is illegal for trade/sale/purchase while mammoth tusk ivory is the only LEGAL ivory in the world.

In the last few weeks, there have been changes in the U.S regulations of elephant ivory trade, banning it completely. Thus, if you are trying to sell old, pre-1989 elephant ivory, it would still be illegal to do so. But if you have mammoth ivory art pieces or even in raw form, you can sell it with ease.

The major reason for this demarcation is that elephants are still being illegally killed for ivory and by actively banning its sale and purchase including old ivory products; maybe elephant tusks would lose their charm.

On the other hand, when mammoth tusk ivory is readily available with the same luster and shine, add to it the historic value, why even bother about elephant ivory? By legal ivory, enjoy it, sell it or pass it down the generations as heirlooms.

Magnificent Art in Mammoth Tusk Ivory

If you are looking to buy mammoth ivory tusk, it is one of the best investments in today’s time. The rich creamy white ivory is not just used to sculpt and carve magnificent sculptures but is rarer than oil and gold because only a few thousand of wooly mammoths roamed the earth when they died and were buried in ice. Constant exploration and harvesting of huge tusks have yielded precious ivory that has replaced the demand for elephant ivory.

From craving tiny figurines, netsuke and using flakes a blade handles, the larger pieces and full tusks measuring 10 feet to over 14 feet are auctioned for thousands of dollars each year.

Each of the raw tusks is then given to Oriental artists for carving beautiful scenes, sculptures and figurines. Though the harvesting and excavations are only done during the short Arctic summers, the traders work in harsh and tough climates, working through the melting permafrost to cater to the needs of people looking to invest in ivory for generations, passing on the priceless carvings as heirlooms.

When you are looking to invest in mammoth ivory, which is the only legal ivory traded worldwide, you need to be sure that the sculpture that you have bought is genuine mammoth ivory. If you are new to mammoth ivory purchase and collection, it is good to take on the services of a professional connoisseur for consultation and evaluation. Another factor that can be considered is only to buy from reputed mammoth ivory dealers that have excellent eBay reviews. This assures customers that others who have bought mammoth ivory products are happy with the sculptures, netsuke and carvings. You may look up a wide range of mammoth tusk ivory carvings on sale at http://www.mammothivory.info

How to cut and store ivory for scrimshaws and knife handles?

Just like wood, ivory can be cut with the same tools. From hacksaw with rough and course teeth to delicate jewelers saw and in case you need slabs; a band saw might be the right tool. For smooth cuts, it is best to have tools with more teeth and that requires low amount of sanding.

When you cut large tusk into sections, it is important to seal the ivory pores to prevent the ivory from cracking and drying out quickly. Most of the sculptors use white glue to seal the ends while the use of varnish and hot wax is not uncommon.

While cutting tusk sections, ensure that you don’t run the saw too fast through the ivory as it makes wavy cuts. Use a light hand with steady grip and speed to cut through ivory as it is very dense. After the ivory is cut, it needs to be maintained in good condition to be crafted in different forms, including sculptures, knife handles, scrimshaws and more.

The most important aspect is to retain the humidity within the ivory and carvers use mineral oil to prevent cracks and shrinkage. But this only works on thin slabs and sheets. The slabs and thin pieces are polished with mineral oil and then wiped with soft cotton cloth and zipped in plastic bags till further use. This ensures that no moisture escapes even after the ivory piece is sanded and polished, reducing the chances of cracks and shrinking.

As the lost moisture is replaced by oil and the luster is maintained as required. The key for storing ivory is about maintaining the moisture. Traditional Russian fossil ivory hunters soak the excavated tusks in water to help maintain the moisture before it is transported to carvers. See some of the most exquisite mammoth ivory carvings at http://www.mammothivory.info/