Historically this organic gem material, referred to as Ivory, came only from elephant tusks. Since elephants have become a protected species and the sale of elephant ivory has been outlawed, most of the ivory we see being used in jewelry today comes from fossilized sources along with hippopotamus, narwhal, sea lion, and wild boars teeth.

Ivory exhibits a distinctive graining that is referred to as the "engine turned effect." This helps to distinguish ivory from bone. As ivory ages in changes from its original white color to yellowish and eventually it acquires a brownish patina. Valued for its ability to be carved, many fine ivory carving traditions existed throughout the world. Netsukes in Japan, Victorian carvings, the Erbach school in Germany, and in Russia they have been carving mammoth and walrus ivory for centuries.

Carved ivory.jpg

Carved Ivory Cross, Circa 1850.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques.

Gemological Information For Ivory

Color: White, creamy, yellowish
Crystal Structure Amorphous
Refractive Index: 1.54-1.56
Durability: May scratch
Hardness: 2.25-2.75
Similar Stones: Plastics, Bone
Treatments: Bleaching
Country of Origin: Asia, Africa

Ivory Care

Ultrasonic Cleaning: Not safe
Steam Cleaning: Not safe
Warm Soapy Water: Safe
Chemical Attack:
Light Sensitivity: Avoid
Heat Sensitivity: Stable

Online G&G Articles on Ivory