Re: Bone or Ivory..., or?
Re: bone or ivory?? -- Luann Udell Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/17/2019, 02:09:27

Hello Luann,

Unfortunately your photo is too fuzzy to make a confident identification. Can you try to shoot them again? Concentrate on filling the frame with an area that has grain/pattern.

Some comments about previous replies:

Plastic imitations (often called "French faux ivory) usually have an attempt to imitate the grain of elephant ivory. The material is made up of sheets composed from fused thin plastic rods that alternate in being opaque white and translucent white. Multiples of these sheets are fused together to make blocks. In their exploitation it is possible to see a longitudinal "grain" that is ivory-like. However, in cross section we do not see Schreger lines (that are arching curves crossing one-another, and radiating out from a common center). We see where the sheets meet one another, in a rather random manner. I have not seen any 'high class' imitations that include anything like a realistic presentation of Schreger lines.

A quick story from my past. At my first lecture on ivory (ca. 1979) I showed the faux-ivory backing of what may have been an early 20th C hand brush. (I found it in the ground in a friend's back yard—and I still have it.) I showed it to Si Frazier (mineralogist/gemologist)—who said this: "It's like the grain of ivory after two martinis." Funny and apt. Since that time I have acquired several more additional specimens—but this is just about the best one I have.

Regarding color. Generalizations are not helpful. The color of clean new ivory is dead-white. It is NOT "yellowish" until it has some age. Furthermore, the Chinese—who have made the greatest numbers of elephant ivory artifacts (in modern times, followed closely by India), routinely smoke ivory to give it a pleasant off-white color. It is probably also oiled or waxed to make it slightly superficially translucent.

Regarding tagua—one of the reasons it is called "vegetable ivory" is because it is a hard white (or off-white or pale) material with a variegated grain—that results from having a layered structure. So, in fact, there IS a visible grain within tagua that is comparable to elephant ivory; but is also distinctly different. It is visually recognizable once you have seen it. (In my mind it is visually more-similar to the grain of fossil palm wood, in some respects). Vegetable ivory derives from a cluster of hard seeds WITHIN a South American palm nut fruit. Not from the fruit itself.

In any event, I agree that, having a variegated grain, your beads are not bone. It is more likely they are elephant ivory. But a better photo would help.


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