Ancient fossilized ivory is any type of ivory that is over three hundred years old and possibly more than a million years old. We use only ancient fossilized ivory due to the destruction of life required for attaining fresh ivory. The ancient ivory used in our jewelry production is one of two types, either fossilized walrus or mammoth tusk.
Fossilized Walrus Ivory (Odobenus Rosmarus) is primarily found both in the ocean and on islands in the Bering Sea, off the coasts of Siberia and Alaska. Some of the fossil weathers out of the ground on its own, however the majority is excavated by Eskimos from their ancestral village sites. The ancient Eskimos often carved walrus tusks to use as ice axes, spear or harpoon tips, fire starters, sled runners, or decorative pieces such as jewelry and figurines. We primarily use the pieces that were left over after the above mentioned tools were created. The amazing colors found in ancient walrus ivories are caused by minerals from the surrounding soil: the browns and oranges by iron and manganese, greens and blues by copper and the rare reds by gold. The USGS has reported that a piece of walrus tusk they carbon dated was thirty thousand years old, however most fossil walrus ivory is between 500 and 3,000 years old and rarely exceeds 10,000 years old.
The fossilized walrus ivory we use in our ivory jewelry can span the neutral tones from creamy white to honey, reddish brown to black, depending on the minerals the walrus tusk was in contact with and the length of time it was in the ground. It is legally obtained from Native owned land and excavated by Eskimo families from old village sites on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska.
Ancient Fossilized/Mineralized Mammoth Tusk (Mammuthus primigenus) is anywhere from 10,000 to possibly a million years old. Woolly mammoth have been extinct for more than 10,000 years, except for a single herd of pygmy mammoth from an isolated Siberian island that totally died out around 3000 years ago.
Zealandia’s mammoth ivory is mostly found as a byproduct of gold mining in Canada and Alaska. In Siberia, where it has been a resource for centuries, it is mined for its own sake, often found in deposits after violent winter storms have revealed a portion of the material sticking up from the permafrost near ancient lake beds. The Russians have been industrious in developing a world market for their ivories.... the US, and Canada lag far behind. Coloration occurs from the same minerals that affect walrus ivory.
We use mammoth ivory for our beloved polar bear jewelry, or when we want a nice creamy skin tone. Occasionally we will use mammoth ivory from Siberia, which is generally whiter than North American mammoth ivory from resting in ice rather than soil.