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.
Ivory consists of dentine which is present in the tusks and teeth of animals and cross-section of different ivories gives you a different look into the inherent patterns. But though there are reputed dealers selling 100% original and legal ivory, an equal number of scammers sell fake ivory. So did you buy real or fake ivory artifacts?
There are numerous subtle differences that are visible to even untrained eyes, as many fake ivory products are crafted from reconstructed animal bone powder, but the color, texture and weight of the sculpture is very different. Dentine has little collagen and large amount of calcium phosphate which shows wear and tear over time. And ivory is sourced from wooly mammoths, elephants (now banned) as tusks while the teeth of wild boar, hippo, whales, and walrus are also considered as ivory. Some specific features that are consistent with natural ivory include high gloss with silky feel, inherent inter-sectional arches that are visible when holding it lengthwise and variations when you look down into it.
While plastic, bone powder, antlers and bone sculptures have a different weight and feel. To start with there are no Schreger lines. Bones have small channels as nerves and blood vessels go through it. It may not be visible to all but if you put light behind it, they appear as dots and dashes. While antlers have a darker color with honeycomb patterns all through the center, plastics on the other hand are lighter with an artificial look. However, you need to be conversant with ivory before you can make out the difference so it is bets to buy from top ivory traders and dealers as they provide you with authentic material at affordable prices. Check out genuine mammoth ivory art athttp://www.mammothivory.info/