The demand for ivory never wavered and after the elephant ivory was banned, mammoth ivory came into prominence. Alaska has been the center for harvesting genuine mammoth ivory and carving various ivory artifacts for centuries. Along with mammoth tusks, the place is teeming with walrus and whale teeth and bones, sought after by artists’ and scrimshaw collectors. Huge mammoth tusks in pristine condition are bought at extremely high prices by traders and private collections.
The reason that mammoths’ carcass and tusks have survived intact is due to intense cold of the tundra climate and eons under the permafrost. And that is why it is limited resource because due to constant harvesting and excavations, only a few thousand carcasses of woolly mammoths remain today. From fossil hunters, sculptors, bead makers and scrimshaw artists always requiring high quality ivory, prices remain high. Though in US, Alaska has the highest density of mammoth tusks, any tusks found on private property is equally legal and can be sold by the owners. The demand for mammoth tusk ivory is not just as huge tusks but delicate figures, sculptures, jewelry and curios all over the world.
The main reason elephant ivory was banned was due to the slaughtering of elephants for their tusks but as wooly mammoths is already extinct; this ivory is completely legal and can be traded worldwide. However not all sculptors can work on mammoth tusk ivory but only specialized Chinese and Japanese artists with years of experience working on ivory can work on these delicate yet priceless carvings. Even if the tusk is broken when excavated, there is huge demand for it. Smaller pieces are used to carve statues, and even tiny pieces are used to make pieces of carved jewelry. Basically none of the excavated mammoth tusk goes waste, as even the small chips, pieces and fragments are used for inlay, knife handles and jewelry.
However, the most expensive are complete ivory tusks which are sold raw in the natural state or carved completely. As most of the tusks have been buried for ages under the tundra permafrost, it has absorbed minerals from the soil and many of the unearthed tusks have hues of colors ranging from green to brown to grey on the husk. The artists carve into the ivory bringing out layers of milky white ivory as they carve daily life, scenes and mythological figures. Check out a range of unique and completely legal mammoth ivory carvings at http://www.mammothivory.info