Ivory, this precious material, once highly sought-after, has made it possible to create many jewels and decorative objects. Today, it is associated with animal extinction and poaching. Forbidden to production and sale, what about used ivory and its resale? We will clarify this sensitive subject!
What is ivory?
The polemic surrounding ivory can be explained by its nature since it is an organic material of animal origin. Often symbolized by the tusks of elephants, it should not be forgotten that many other animals are provided with it and are poached for this now illegal trade. The rhinoceros, hippopotamus, narwhal, and walrus are among them. Appreciated for its beauty, ivory has long been used in jewelry, carving, inlaying on furniture, tableware, billiard balls, chess pieces, etc..
Strict legislation for ivory
If today the ivory trade is banned, it is thanks to the signing of the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” in 1973 in Washington. In Europe, the resale of ivory is tolerated only for antiquities, which favors the scams of poachers. In France, derogations are possible for ivory objects dating from before 1975 and possessing an intra-EU certificate. It is only since 2016 that the law has become stricter, with an action plan to eradicate wildlife trafficking. Although loopholes in the system remain, the possession of raw ivory, such as elephant tusks or rhino horn, is completely illegal.
What are the alternatives to ivory?
Since its trade and production are prohibited, some ivory enthusiasts have turned to some rather interesting and totally legal alternatives, without animal cruelty. You can find so-called vegetal ivory, which is obtained from the fruits of an ivory palm tree, cultivated and framed by fair trade. Called “caryopses”, the fruits contain a liquid that hardens to form a ball that can be transformed into jewelry, tableware, piano keys, etc. You can also use resin, which imitates ivory wonderfully, both in its appearance and hardness and in its durability. There is also celluloid, which has been used a lot since 1873, to replace ivory in the creation of various objects. Ivory is therefore not included in this list, since it is agglomerated ivory powder, which is also totally banned.