For ivory artists, mammoth ivory that has been buried under the permafrost since the last 10,000 to 12,000 years forms the basis of the artworks. Though it is not petrified, which means that the organic material has not become like a fossil or been replaced with minerals, the soft organic ivory can be carved using wood carvers tools. The fact that it didn’t turn to fossil is due to the fact that it was buried at extremely low temperatures. The mineral streaks are visible in many of the tusks that are excavated as a result of the gold mining in the Siberian and Arctic regions.
As mammoth ivory cannot be collected from public lands, it is usually procured from mining companies that unearthed heaps of permafrost to access and mine gold deep down in the earth. Within the permafrost hundreds of tusk are discovered each year and sold by the miners, as it is legal ivory. Most of the ivory carvers are in China and Hong Kong, some of them come from family of sculptors, apprenticed as wood carvers and only the best get a chance to carve ivory.
The price of the mammoth ivory is high considering other materials due to the difficulty in procuring it. Additionally the carved sculpture includes the charges of the skilled artists as only a select few artists can work on ivory. The prices range from $500 to thousands of dollars’ worth of sculpture on full tusks and pieces of tusks. If you are looking at investing in ivory, you can check out the collection at http://www.mammothivory.info