Ivory – Colors, Shapes, and Sizes

Ivory is one of the most well-known materials that are used in high-quality precious jewelry. It should be noted that Ivory is not a gemstone or a mineral from rock, it is an organic mineral created by certain mammals with specific types of characteristics. Following is some information on the different colors, shapes, and sizes that Ivory is available in.

Ivory usually comes in two colors, white and whitish-yellow, many people usually call it off white. The whiter the Ivory, usually the higher the price, usually Ivory can turn a tinge of yellow if it is an older piece, but for the most part, it is extremely exquisite and beautiful.

Ivory is very soft compared to hard gemstones and can be sculpted with just a steal knife, however, it is very stable, so as long as you care for it properly it won’t shatter or fracture. The size of Ivory is really up to the animal that creates it. Usually, the biggest specimens of Ivory come from bull Elephants. However, most of the time, select pieces such as pianos and statues are made from a few pieces of Ivory and not just one distinct piece.

How and Where is Ivory Formed and Found?

Ivory is an opaque white or yellowish-white substance that is not a gemstone or mineral, it is actually organic in nature. Sometimes called an organic mineral, Ivory is extremely valuable and very attractive to the sight and to the touch. Ivory is usually garnered from elephants, walrus’s, extinct fossilized mammoths, and hippos. It has been used to create ornamental jewelry, statues, billiard balls, bagpipes, buttons, and piano keys.

The chemical structure of Ivory is consistent whether it comes from an elephant or hippo or any animal for that matter. While most people associate Ivory with elephants, the truth of the matter is that it can come from a variety of different mammals.

Ivory is created as a tooth or tusks of the above mammals; a tusk is another name for a tooth that sticks outside the mouth. Teeth include the structure of the pulp cavity, dentine, enamel, and cementum. The Ivory that is usually carved and used for jewelry purposes is mostly that of Dentine.

The Uses of Ivory

Most Ivories throughout the ages was used as ornamental jewelry such as beads, cameos, pendants, etc. Besides jewelry that is worn, items were created out of Ivory, most notably statues. Ivory was also used to create piano keys which was a major use of Ivory during the last 300 years.

Today, Ivory is no longer cultivated by living mammals. There has been a world ban on Ivory since 1989, this has been put into effect due to the fact that poaches have practically killed almost all the elephants due to their beautiful Ivory. It is stated that in 40 years, 97% of the 300,000 elephants in certain African countries were slaughtered for their Ivory production. Today, there are plenty of synthetic types of Ivory that have the same look and feel as traditional Ivory teeth and tusks.

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