Ivory is rich, lustrous and beautiful. Not only has it allured centuries of sculptors and carvers, but even after the global ban of elephant ivory, Mammoth ivory is much more in demand. You may have an antique or might have just bought an ivory figurine or if you are planning to do so, it is advisable to first check for genuinely of the piece. Many times, synthetic ivory or even bone is actually used to craft numerous items and then sold as antique ivory. If you are in doubt about your artefact or recently acquired figurine, read on to learn how to differentiate between real ivory and bone.
Look carefully at the art piece where carving is least to check for grain or patterns. These areas are the flat surfaces of a scrimshaw or statues. If you are unable to see through naked eye, take a good magnifying glass and see for crisscross lines of V shaped lines.
By now, you should be able to see two patterns that are completely different. One is the straight lines somewhat parallel that have been running across the length of the tusk or tooth, depending upon the material used to carve your artefact. Just perpendicular to these lines should be circular parallel lines or V shaped lines that are a specific mark of mammoth and elephant ivory and are known as Schreger Lines. The only difference between elephant ivory and mammoth ivory is judged on the basis of the angle of the Schreger Lines.
Now, identifying bone as the material is relatively easy as animal bones have very porous texture in the form of tiny canals all over the surface due to the fact that nerves and other organic materials flow through the bones. Remains of these organic textures remain embedded inside the porous surface and over a period of time decays and turns dark. However, if the bone has been bleached well, you may not be able to see the dark spots unless you put it against the light. But the canals and fine porous surface would be visible. Another sign which can show that the art piece is not ivory but bone is when some pieces of bone lamination is added to the art piece to make it larger than it is.
If you look carefully, these tell tale signs would be visible and if you are going to buy a piece of real ivory, check for the sign of the articles on the base end of the tusk or chunk of ivory. Any artist who uses the medium of expensive ivory will not leave a mangled edge with no signature. This will ensure that what you are buying is worth the money that you are paying for it.
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