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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 14, 2010


I read your "how to" on authenticating ivory by the "checkering." I wire wrap some bone carvings (ox, cow or camel) and fossilized walrus tusk. Can you tell these from ivory? I do not want to mistakenly work with ivory. Thank you for any info you may have.

-Connie in Kissimmee, Florida


For questions about ivory, I turn to WS Faculty member "Scrimshaw" Mary and her husband, Joe, who say:

Bone is very pithy, and you can see the pore holes in bone, such as cow, camel, ox and even deer, etc.

Ivory has cross-hatching or geometric patterns, and it is almost always solid so that you can polish it to a mirror shine. Bone does not, and will not take a buffing to a high polish without the pores actually grabbing the buffing compound, so that the pores show up as little black dots because they now are full of the buffing compound.

In the fossil walrus, if you have that center of "nutmeg" or "cracked ice" look, that is a dead giveaway for it being ivory. If fossil, it will usually be a light cream in color, etc. and not a stark white.

If you are buying carved material, it is most likely bone. If someone is telling you that it is ivory, but the price is too reasonable, it is not ivory. People will sell you bone for a cheap price and swear it is ivory, but not the other way around.

-Mary & Joe

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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