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Ivory advice

 Any comments as to the use and setting of Ivory would be much

I have a comment. Unless its the fossil variety-- DONT USE IT AT ALL.
There isnt any “clean” ivory anywhere. The only thing that should be
wearing ivory is the animals that grew it. Using any amount of it at
any time for any reason just furthers the destruction of endangered
species by the unscrupulous bastards that poach and deal in this
material. If there wasnt a market for it then they wouldnt be killing
these great creatures off to satisfy that market. And to countering
with the usual “well its antique, …blah blah” doesnt hold up either.
It has always been wrong to “harvest” these creatures for the whims of
the wealthy. Barney

Well, …I have never worked with ivory but if one wants to know
what is legal and what is not in the various forms in which it is
found, go to

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!

You are so right. I was at a Flea Market in FA, and saw some
beautiful pieces. I asked the man selling then if the were bone or
real ivory. He stated they were Ivery, but as the came from Singapor
they were legal. Needless to say he was not a happy person when I
told him there is no legal ivory and I intended to notify the
authorites. I had his card so the wasn’t a hole lot he could do about
it. I kept may word, even though it took all most a whole day of
phone calls. However when I went back the next week he was no longer
there and several venders told me he was met by some conservation
officers and taken away. They didn’t know why and to truthful about it
I didn’t tell them. There were several upset jewelry venders and I
felt discrestion was the better part of valor. However I would do it


I agree that new ivory is not an ethical material but I tend to
disagree that fossil material is the only kind we should use. I get
"old" ivory and rework it. Old chess pieces, piano keys, billiard
balls etc. can be picked up from junk dealers at very low prices.

Nevertheless I have a worrying niggle that this isn’t really “right”

Would anyone care to argue me into a position that feels better?

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone

Tony, I think as long as you are not creating a demand for ivory,
using old pieces is just fine. How are we suppose to recycle


There isnt any “clean” ivory anywhere. This comment about not using
ivory prompts a question. A colleague of mine who works for a vet in
her other life told me recently that she got permission from the owner
of a pot bellied pig that had to be put down to remove the tusks,
which she plans to use for ivory. I happen to have a lower jaw from a
large boar, complete with tusks. Is this, in fact, really ivory, and
can it be used as such? If so, surely its use should be ok. Thoughts?
Information? Thanks!


Hi Tony, A friend of mine who works with one of those big animal
habitat preservation groups informs me that the problem with Old Ivory
being reworked is that is impossible to monitor and differentiate the
old from the new. That if you take an old piece and remove the outer
patina it can’t really be distinguished from new without very high
tech methods by average people. I only thought to ask because a friend
(a vegetarian animal rights kind of gal at that) once gave me two
african mask beads that she said were antique ivory with the idea that
I would make myself some earrings. I never did because every time I
look at them I get a quick mental flash of the likely circumstances
surrounding the harvesting of the tusks. It will be interesting to see
if someone can come up with something better than “well the animal is
already dead and not using it won’t change that now” Now if someone
were to offer to carve me up some Tagua nut masks…


There is still clean ivory. The indigenous peoples of Alaska and
Canada still collect and use walrus tusk ivory and they are permitted
by law to do so.


“Ivory” is material from an elephant’s tusk. Anything else has to be
designated as such. Foe example “Walrus ivory”, “Vegetable Ivory"
Tusks have to be called “Tusk” and jawbone is, I’m afraid, just

Tony Konrath
Gold and Stone

Noel, Technically ivory can only be elephant tusk. Any other type of
tusk would have to be identified as bone or as a tusk with the
animal’s name that it came from preceding it.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers

Dear Noel, I don’t think there is any answer that will make everybody
happy. There are vegetarians who can’t even agree on what’s right or
wrong to eat, i.e., eggs, cheese and the rest. Each person just
needs to search their own conscious for an answer and don’t expect
all to agree. Some people believe in hunting others don’t and all
the inbetweeners who eat meat but wouldn’t kill it themselves. I
guess that’s what makes life stay interesting, eh?


Technically, if it’s not from elephant tusk, It’s not Ivory. That
said, in practice, many people count walrus, narwhale, whale tooth,
boar tusk and the like as ivory.

Of the lot I’d have no qualms about using pig tusk, but I would make
a point of making it clear as to what it is. I do most of my
carving on cow bone, and when it’s polished have to point out the
difference to most people.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR

Tony, The only thing I (have time) can say, is as long as there is
ivory used in decorative or ornamental items the desire will be
perpetuated in some form or another, thus creating demand and
ultimately destroying animals that grow it. It is not like a piece
of FUR clothing, that can be farmed(bad enough) and
replenished…the animals with ivory will no longer be…only a
memory, probably in our lifetimes…scary to eliminate something
forever , for such a temporary use and/or profit.

Thomas Blair
Island Gold Works
Hilton Head SC

I totally agree! I used to do a lot of ivory jewelry (18-20 years
ago) bracelets, e/r, pendants. Inserts for all kinds of things., and
it was a dream to work with…Still have 3 tusk’s…BUT, I
will NEVER use them now. Cannot bring myself to do so out of the
guiltiness I would feel for these innocent creatures who have this to
be their lot for “OUR” adornment! If all could stop the purchasing of
all ivories, even antique and pre historic, especially for
’adornment’ use, would be a small step to saving animals that will
cease to exist in our lifetime…

Thomas Blair
Island Gold Works
Hilton Head SC

Dear Tony, Think about the fact that a beautiful animal already has
been killed at a time when people had not started to kill enough to
lower numbers and it had not become apparent that we would have to
start changing our ways. Think that this animals life already is
gone but all that remains are these old pieces of lovely material and
if we as jewelers make wonderful things out of it we give them a
Shakespearean type of immortality. I am always terribly saddened
when I see do gooders go to antique shops and then have big bonfires
and burn it all. Then it was if they never existed. We don’t burn
the photos nor painting of war victims nor murdered people to prevent
it happening again do we.

Oh, what a can of worms this subject will have opened. Sorry folks
but we all should be allowed our individual views.

Sharron in a city where all animals are in the food chain of humans

Dear Norma, (Please forgive anyone who takes offence at this opinion
but I have seen things done to humans that many of you can’t even
dream of in your worst nightmares.) So Norma, I can tell from what you
did to the Singapore ‘ivory’ seller that you have never lived outside
of an advanced country and care more about animals than people.
Believe me if you ever care to look at the majority of nations where
humans are killed as quickly as animals and most times more slowly
and more cruelly, as in child prostitution with the following death
by aids, or human slavery, you might think more about them than what
ever beautiful non-human animal you are protecting. May I suggest a
little research on the internet about this human problem, starting in
Cambodia or India. I am talking about humans remember, not animals.

I guess I believe humans should inherit the earth but not by
protecting animals over them. Help educate them not burn them.

Sorry to express my non-politically correct opinion about this.

from Saigon where everything can happen to everyone

<… Nevertheless I have a worrying niggle that this isn’t really
"right" …> and <…There were several upset jewelry venders and I
felt discretion was the better part of valor. However I would do it
again.> and <…what is legal and what is not in the various forms
in which it is found, go to >

What is really at issue here isn’t legality, but ethics. I certainly
don’t need to list other examples where the latter takes a back seat
to the former, they abound on this world. But what is important and
"right" to us as artists should take precedent over what is important
to us as business people. We wouldn’t think twice about not using human
remains for decorations or

adornment, even if they were “old”. Even if they were borrowed from a
culture or time where it was “legal” to do so. Tony, I certainly wont
argue you into a position that feels better, because the feeling you
already have is the one you should probably pursue. It gives you that
uneasiness because its not right. Those peace of mind bells are
ringing in your head for a reason. A good deal on ill begotten goods
isn’t such a good deal. Even your business name echoes your real
intent- says “gold and stone” not “gold and stone and a few rare
animal parts” Good for your worrying niggle!!! And while I don’t
personally believe in turning people over to authorities anywhere, I
understand the feelings behind your actions Norma, and given the
magnitude of, and the butchery behind the ivory trade, faced with
that, would probably do the same. I wasn’t able to get the ivoryworks
ltd to come up on my server. I suspect though that its a support site
to help folks ease their conscience while they continue to feed their
greed. “Well MY ivory was legally obtained…”

Blah blah blah… ad nauseum Law and ethics do not share the same
bed often. As artists and craftspeople, I suspect that we all would
have no trouble collecting our own gold or collecting our own
minerals to make gems from. But I strongly suspect that there are few
of us that would go and bring down a great beast and chop out its
tusks or teeth to make our art. If you stop a moment and look around,
you will notice that we share this world. And the creatures we share
this web of life with are going away. The amazing amount of knowledge
we have amassed as the big brained animals we are, must now be
tempered by the wisdom of our past mistakes.

To continue utilizing, what was once thought to be benign, in light
of this wisdom is criminal to our collective spirit. We need to start
doing things because we should more than because we can. Barney
Joyful Crow Fine Metalworks.

Having lived in Iran before the Shah bit the dust I have seen first
hand what real -poverty can be. I have never read or thought or spoken
,what I have always taken for granted, in such a concise way as you
have put it. I think your letter is the thought o’ the week for me and
I greatly appreciate your words in this regard. Americans have this
wonderful ability to ignore most of the planet. Living and growing up
60 miles from the Mexican border all my life and having the good
fortune to travel I’m always shocked at the naivety of most US
citizens. I’ve come to peace with this and am able to even enjoy what
I’ve got here in the US that much more. Sam Patania, Tucson, AZ

Thomas, I can empathize feelings but lets be perfectly clear - Almost
every thing we make is make with non-renewable resources. Don’t
forget the cost to the environment of mining. Just as disheartening
is ongoing pillage of caves around the world of natural formations. I
have a friend who is an avid spelunker. We went to a mineral show in
my hometown I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He pointed
out items on nearly every table that had been taken from caves. He
later took me to what used to be one of his favorite spots and pointed
out all the damage and showed me a picture of what the place looked
like before the mineral collectors got there. Truly awe inspiring…
What I am trying to point out is that everything we make requires
materials that are removed from the natural environment. That removal
in some way effected someone else. Whether it was an area that is
strip mined, habitat that is destroyed, animals that are killed or
caves that are vandalized. What are our choices? Use synthetics for
everything? Even that has effects. We are human and part of being
human is the coveting of beautiful things. We will always create
havoc in the environment because that is our nature. All we can do
try to do things in what we deem a responsible manner knowing that
someone else is going to consider it totally irresponsible.

My 2 cents Shane Morris