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The Growing Trend Of Mammoth Ivory

Mar 5, 2008
For centuries, elephant ivory was prized as a status symbol of the rich and famous. Across Siberia, where the remains of this ancient mammal are frequently found, mammoth ivory has been an article for trade for centuries. Mammoth ivory tusks easily reach 4.5-5 feet in length, leaving a substantial amount of material to work with, or, if left whole, an impressive wall hanging and conversation piece. Aficionados are familiar with different types and qualities of mammoth ivory. Bits of mammoth ivory can also be purchased in pieces and carved at home. Mammoth ivory dealers are often willing to seek out or trade specialty pieces upon request.

What's the latest and greatest in jewelry making and home decoration? Believe it or not, it's mammoth ivory.

For centuries, elephant ivory was prized as a status symbol of the rich and famous. Unfortunately, demand for this increasingly trendy material led to a drastic decline in the modern elephant population by the late 20th century, and elephant ivory trade was banned as of 1989 in order to preserve the species.

Due to its silky feel, creamy color and luxurious connotations, ivory continues to be a much sought-after material, with police seizures of illegally poached elephant ivory an all too common occurrence. In an interesting attempt at compromise, mammoth ivory is becoming the substitute material of choice, for the obvious reason that no illegal action--and no killing of an animal--is required.

The woolly mammoth, an ancestral cousin of today's modern elephant, sharply dropped off in population about 12,000 BCE (before the current era), with small pockets still in existence until approximately 1,700 years ago. Mammoth have been excavated by archaeologists specifically for study for about 200 years, though remains of this once prolific mammal have been accidentally uncovered for far longer.

Mammoth were so prevalent across the globe during their reign in the Pleistocene era, fossilized remains--including the ivory--have long been unearthed by villagers and commissioned builders. Across Siberia, where the remains of this ancient mammal are frequently found, mammoth ivory has been an article for trade for centuries. In today's more interactive and communicative world, mammoth ivory trade is accomplished with a simple phone call, thumbing through a catalog or clicking a computer mouse.

Mammoth ivory tusks easily reach 4.5-5 feet in length, leaving a substantial amount of material to work with, or, if left whole, an impressive wall hanging and conversation piece. Aficionados are familiar with different types and qualities of mammoth ivory. For example, mammoth ivory can be found in a variety of color tones, from nearly white to somewhat dark. There is also "inner ivory," which lacks the outside covering (or "bark"), considered a more rare and exquisite ivory to own and popular in knife-making.

Bits of mammoth ivory can also be purchased in pieces and carved at home. According to professionals, care should be taken in working the ivory, especially if heat is applied (for bending of the material). Mammoth ivory dealers are often willing to seek out or trade specialty pieces upon request. Professional carvers can also be commissioned to carve or work a piece into jewelry or other items. Try the internet as your starting-off point in your investigation of mammoth ivory, and look for a dealer or artist who has a good following and adequate, verifiable testimonials. The result, whether a finished piece or a full mammoth ivory tusk, will be a family keepsake for generations to come.
About the Author
Anita Satin Choudhary writes for Ivory and Art Gallery. Browse the gallery for unique collection of artifacts ranging from Mammoth Ivory to Netsuke
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