Written by: Anna The ethics of ivory have always been critically important to us here at Zealandia Designs. We adamantly oppose the killing of any living animal for its ivory. Our passion is for fossilized ivories, which have lain buried in the earth or permafrost for 500 to over 15,000 years, and in no way threaten the living creatures of today. Fossilized ivories from ancient walrus and mammoth deposits are a vital resource for the indigenous peoples that gather these artifacts for carving, sale, and trade. Many centuries in the earth stain the ancient ivories a beautiful array of cream to rich cocoa colors, and they are valued highlights in jewelry, art, and craftsman work. [caption id="attachment_101" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Zealandia Designs fossilized ivory jewelry, mammoth ivory and walrus ivory Many centuries old, these ancient fossilized ivories make beautiful alternatives to new ivory.[/caption] The New Ban on African Elephant Ivories On July 6, 2016, the United States adopted a near-total ban on African elephant ivories, effectively shutting down the African elephant ivory trade nationwide. Until now the US had remained a major market for elephant ivory, despite the fact that the importation of elephant ivory has been banned for decades. This new ban covers the commercial ivory industry for ivory that already exists in the US, including antiques and pieces that are claimed as old ivory. Basically, it is now illegal to sell, buy, or trade elephant ivory products in the United States, with very few exceptions. This bold statement sends a message worldwide that we value the dwindling African elephant populations over profit. The ban is an important step forward in animal conservation. But any press on the various types of ivories in today’s market is bound to cause some confusion, and we wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight. As responsible, conscientious, and law-abiding suppliers of ancient fossilized ivory products that never include elephant ivory, it’s important to us that you understand the difference between our ivories and the now almost totally banned ivories. [caption id="attachment_102" align="aligncenter" width="500"]US elephant ivory ban The US is saying goodbye to the African elephant ivory industry for good.[/caption] How to Tell the Difference Between Ivories The US Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory has published an excellent web page detailing the differences between various ivories. Our mammoth ivory (over 15,000 years old) has been verified as coming from an ancient, long-extinct source—the wooly mammoth—rather than the modern elephant. Similarly, our fossilized walrus ivories (500-3,000 years old) have been inspected and certified by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as genuine under the International Treaty to Protect Endangered Species (CITES). CITES permits verify the age of this ivory. These ancient ivories are legal for sale in most states, and are legal under the 2016 Federal guidelines. The states that have made even fossilized walrus and mammoth ivory illegal for sale within their borders are New Jersey, California, and New York (with the exception of walrus, which is permitted in this state). Unless you live in one of these states, you can still legally purchase our fossilized ivory jewelry. The new African elephant ivory ban does not affect the sale of ancient walrus or mammoth ivory beyond the states listed above.
If you are one of the many people who respond to the unique beauty and history of fossilized ivory, these ancient ivories provide a lovely alternative to new ivory which further harms our elephant and other endangered species populations.
Please visit the US Fish and Wildlife’s International Affairs page for more detailed information on the new US African elephant ivory ban.