How Much Does Ivory Cost?

Written by: Staff

Ivory, which can be used to create anything from jewelry to a trinket, is now illegal in the United States due to the dwindling elephant population.

Piano Keys by Taylor Liberato, on Flickr
Piano Keys” (CC BY 2.0) by  Taylor Liberato

How much does ivory cost?

Selling ivory, as of 2015, is prohibited in the United States, with a few exceptions, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  These exceptions can include pre-existing items manufactured with ivory such as musical instruments, furniture-related items or firearms containing fewer than 200 grams.  Antiques, at least a century old, are also except, according to the Washington Post.

When ivory was legal in the United States, ivory fetched prices as high as $1,500 per pound due to the demand in Asia, where elephant trunks were often carved into art.  The demand, often met by poachers, slaughtered an estimated 100,000 elephants within three years, ending in 2014.  A horn from an endangered rhinoceros, for instance, could cost up to $25,000 per pound in China, according to the same Washington Post article cited prior.  A pair of elephant tusks, on the other hand, could cost as much as $20,000.  The costs would greatly depend on what stage the ivory was in.  Often, ivory is cheap when sold to a middleman.

As for items made from genuine ivory, typical prices can range from as little as $300 for a small figurine to $450 for a puzzle ball, according to Larry Cox at the Arizona Republic.

The price ivory, as per the New York Times, was $500 a pound and could increase, even if China were to ban the legal ivory trade.

If you want to sell your ivory piece, it can be done; however, you need to know the following to know if it’s legal to do so:  the country of origin, the country of export, the year it was imported, the specific port it entered into the United States, what type of ivory, the age at the time of import and whether it’s raw or worked.  The Texas Antique Mall explains in detail as to what you can and can’t sell in the ivory trade.

Tips to know:

The prices for illegal ivory trade fuel terrorist groups, such as the Al-Shabab militants from Somalia, who often travel to Kenya to hunt elephants.  In the 1970s, there were close to 175,000 elephants, but today, there are less than 35,000.

The easiest way to see if an ivory item is real is by heating the tip of a candle or pin until it’s red.  Put the hot point on a part of the ivory to see if it goes in; if it does, it isn’t ivory.

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  1. chris mcdonald (mymar,  florida) paid $ and said:


    Was it worth it? Yes

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