Antique ivory a great, recession proof investment as these rare items continue to rise in value. The fact that it is now illegal to use elephant tusks for their ivory, means existing Asian ivory has dramatically increased in value. There are of course legal and ethical concerns when dealing in ivory, so do not expect all dealers to trade in or consider buying ivory items.
Ivory statues are typically carved out of elephant tusk either mechanically or by hand with sharp tools. The practice of carving ivory for practical or decoration purposes has been around since prehistoric times.
Ivory statues have been found in ancient Chinese tombs and since the late era of Rome, ivory has been considered a prestigious Christian statue medium. Items from Roman periods typically come from tusks and teeth of North African elephants, while Eurasian statues typically used the Asian elephant from India.
There is a great variety of items you can collect in terms of subject. A good place to start would be Buddha statues as they come in a various sizes and colours. Apart from that there are elephant, tiger dragon statues, chess pieces, snuff boxes, elaborately engraved jewellery and scrimshaw.
Ivory, as a broader term, does not exclusively come from elephants. Other animal ivory can come from: hippo, walrus, hog, whale, mammoth (extinct) and other animals. It is worth noting that some of these animals are protected by Convention International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) while some are not.
When purchasing ivory, it is advisable to use reputable antique dealers. You may run the risk of buying fake ivory when using unknown sources. Another consideration is to purchase ivory that is pre – 1974, to ensure that your items are not breaking any modern regulations. Make sure to check whether the items that you are buying are legal, or expect to be heavily fined – again check with your local laws.