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.
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/
Ivory is rich, lustrous and beautiful. Not only has it allured centuries of sculptors and carvers, but even after the global ban of elephant ivory, Mammoth ivory is much more in demand. You may have an antique or might have just bought an ivory figurine or if you are planning to do so, it is advisable to first check for genuinely of the piece. Many times, synthetic ivory or even bone is actually used to craft numerous items and then sold as antique ivory. If you are in doubt about your artefact or recently acquired figurine, read on to learn how to differentiate between real ivory and bone.
Look carefully at the art piece where carving is least to check for grain or patterns. These areas are the flat surfaces of a scrimshaw or statues. If you are unable to see through naked eye, take a good magnifying glass and see for crisscross lines of V shaped lines.
Read the full article about Diffrent kinds of Ivories here.
Trade and carving of mammoth ivory is not a new phenomenon because since the 17th century, in Siberia, mammoth ivory has always not only been carved but has also been used to barter for other products. Being a main center for mammoth ivory procurement, Siberian permafrost holds more than half of the extinct Woolly Mammoth carcasses that are the source of the milky white ivory that conforms to all international legal standards…