Hues and Colors of Mammoth Ivory

by ani.choudhary on February 8, 2014

The extinct mammoths roamed the area from Alaska to Siberia including parts of Canada when they were ice-free for most parts before the last ice age. Today the ivory tusks of mammoths have been labeled the only legal ivory, accepted worldwide with all aspects of the international ivory trade laws are met.

Considered fossil ivory, due to the eons the woolly mammoth carcass have spent under the Arctic permafrost, the excavated mammoth tusks have an outer husk with shades of pigmentation ranging from grey, brown to blues and green. The hues of pigmentation depend upon the area. The type of soil and the minerals within makes the tusks get different hues.

The colors of mammoth ivory range from off-white and cream, to brown as seen on the exterior layer of tusk. With occasional hints of blue and green, depending upon the mineral absorption by organic ivory, some artists prefer the colors as it lends a unique look on the knife and pistol handles. Additionally, some of the ivory sourced from Siberia where the center of the ivory has a distinct opaque and semi-translucent appearance. This is due to the ivory slowly freezing in the permafrost, which changed the structure of the ivory.

Though mammoth ivory is harder than elephant ivory due to the change in composition and age of the tusks, artists love the myriad of hues, colors and solid texture. For scrimshaws, slab knife handles and other assorted jewellery pieces, the shades of absorbed mineral hues against the white ivory is appreciated. It gives a natural shade with streaks, texture and design to the natural ivory. However, the best quality full tusks in natural cream colored ivory without imperfections are the highest prized. Check out some of the classic sculptures, carved tusks and more at

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