What is vintage ivory jewelry?

Written by chris carson
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What is vintage ivory jewelry?

Vintage ivory jewellery was often intricately carved and is highly valued for its rich detail.


Ivory jewellery was popular in the 19th century and typically made from elephant tusks. After the invention of plastic, that substance replaced ivory in popularity because of to its inexpensive cost and durability.

What is vintage ivory jewelry?


African and Asiatic elephants, mammoths, walrus, boar, warthog, whale, and hippopotamus have been "donors" for ivory jewellery. While elephant ivory was the most common material used in vintage ivory jewellery, walrus tusks were often used to make scrimshawed sword handles.

Ivory Substitutes

Bone and certain types of nut are often used today as an ivory substitute in jewellery. In the early 20th century, celluloid and Ivorine were also used as substitutes.

Care of Ivory

Being a very porous material, ivory absorbs oils, ink, paint and dye. The International Ivory Society recommends mild dish washing soap and water to clean vintage ivory.

Today's Ivory

Mammoth ivory jewellery continues to be manufactured legally because mammoths are extinct. Elephant ivory was banned in 1990 in an effort to prevent the extinction of African and Asiatic elephants.


Cross-hatching is often visible on authentic ivory, while bone displays vessel passages and tends to be concave on the reverse side of the jewellery because of the hollow centre of the bone.

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