Though fakes abound, you can be a cautious buyer and understand the basics about identifying real ivory before you buy it. The main feature of identification of both elephant and mammoth ivory is the inherent cross-hatch pattern which is clearly visible in both these types of ivory. These transient lines are actually organic microscopic tubes commonly known as Schreger Lines.
That is why they cannot be duplicated in fake ivory products and are one of the easiest recognizable aspects of real, genuine ivory. Whether you need to identify elephant ivory or mammoth ivory, these lines need to be present to be qualified as genuine ivory. These lines are easy to see when the ivory has been cut at right angles and especially at the bottom of carved statues or art pieces.
Most of the time Schreger lines are used in the identification of mammoth ivory from banned elephant ivory. If you are looking to buy legal ivory, you certainly do not want to be sold any artifact or sculpture made of elephant ivory as it is illegal to trade in it, worldwide. Lines less than 90 degrees indicate that it is mammoth ivory while Schreger lines of more than 115 degree are seen in elephant ivory. This is done by studying the patterns on the outer edges not on the center of the tusk.
Unlike fakes which are carved from resins, plastics and other artificial substances, natural ivory is living tissue with a variable form and direction of growth. This is the reason that ivory grain and Schreger lines can only be seen in legal and genuine mammoth and elephant ivory with ease. Check out real mammoth ivory products at http://www.mammothivory.info
If you thought mammoth ivory sculptures were made by machines in a large production unit, you are totally wrong. Mammoth ivory is delicate yet solid pure ivory, more precious than gold due to the limited stock available today. Only the top of the line expert Oriental or South East Asian artists have the skill and experience to carve such intricate details on ivory. They are artists through the generations and the new ones join as an apprentice at an early age, working on wood and then graduating on to delicate and priceless materials such as ivory. And of all the ivories, mammoth ivory is the most expensive. The other ivory that is used for carving includes hippo ivory, narwhale/swordfish, walrus, sperm whale teeth, hornbill and even vegetable ivory.
The location and excavation of mammoth ivory is a tedious task completed by expert locals in Arctic regions including Siberia while harvesting and trading in it needs resources. As the mammoths lay buried under the Arctic tundra permafrost for thousands of years, any exposure of the ivory to arid temperature leads to cracking and crumbling of ivory. Do you think that it can take the vigorous heat and automatic machine cutting stress without breaking?
That is the reasons that mammoth ivory is stored under humid temperature, cut delicately with hand saws with constant monitoring of the heat as not to damage it. Then it is provided to various skilled and experienced artists who work on each tusk for a few weeks, using hand tools to create a unique detailed and exquisitely carved masterpiece. This is one of the reasons that mammoth ivory sculptures are so unique and high priced as compared to bone sculptures. Take a minute to see some of the most exquisite carvings in mammoth ivory at http://www.mammothivory.info