There have been ethical problems with using ivory in jewelry for
years, and I think it might even be illegal to use in jewelry. I
believe fossil ivory is another story, and as far as I know, legal to
use in jewelry for sale. I had a jeweler friend, years ago, who
wanted to use ivory in a few of his nautical jewelry items he
produced, but would not use dead elephant parts in his work. He used
a material called “Ivory Micarta”, a resin-based plastic material
that has fabric layers in it.
Micarta is very easy to cut, sand, and polish, and comes in lots of
colors. I’m not sure whether it is even produced anymore. It was
commonly used for knife handles, because of its durability, colors,
and ease of manufacture. It’s also impervious to moisture.
The ivory micarta, of which I still have a treasured piece of, has a
quite similar look of ivory, and a visible “grain” to it, very much
like real ivory, without the dead elephant.
If anyone knows whether this micarta is still available, I would
like to know.
As far as fossil ivory goes, I don’t know of a specific supplier,
but if you are ever at the Tucson Gem Show, you will see vendors
selling as much fossil ivory as you could want.