How Can I Tell If a Piece of Jewelry Is Real Ivory?

Look for giveaway signs of real ivory with a jeweler's loupe.

Photo: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Real ivory is gorgeous, but pretty hard to get your hands on for animal cruelty reasons, since ivory comes from elephant tusks, and it's illegal to purchase. If you've got an itching to get your hands on real ivory, thrift it out at antique and vintage stores. Don't be fooled by ivory imitators like painted plastics, resin or bone; save your dollars for the real deal. Not only will you look like a fierce vintage Betty, but you'll have the warm fuzzies from your do-gooder attitude toward the animals, and that's one sexy glow you can't fake!


Look at the piece under a jeweler's loupe with a 10X magnification factor. Real ivory has striations that appear V-shaped; bone will have O-shaped striations, and fake materials will not bear any marks. If you see the V, it's all good!


Loupe it again to see if your piece displays a texture like wood grain. If the piece looks smooth under the loupe, it's imitation.


Notice how the piece feels against your skin. A slight chill upon touch is a good sign: Fake ivory may feel cold, but it won't also display the wood-grain feel or the V, so look for a trifecta to ensure your money's well spent.


Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, then touch this to the jewelry in an off place, like the back of a necklace or inside of a bracelet. If anything comes off, you know you've got a painted fake on your hands, so let it fool someone else, sister.


Hold the piece under a black light. True ivory takes on a fluorescent hue or a super shiny white under black light, while fake plastic imitations just look dull in that lighting.

Things You'll Need


1.10X jeweler's loupe

3.Rubbing alcohol

2.cotton swab

4.Fluorescent light or black light


Tips & Tricks


Buying ivory is illegal! You can purchase vintage ivory, but you can't buy new ivory for animal rights reasons. Ivory that's been in the U.S. since 1989 and earlier can be re-sold without penalty, so shop vintage to save elephant lives, and make sure your friends know not to buy or import real ivory. Also, if you find a piece of faux ivory that you totally heart, get it and wear it proudly. Chances are, no one besides you will know it's fake!


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