Dealers and collectors alike are often fooled or mislead when it comes to ivory, bone and synthetic figures.
We have set up some good examples of faux verses real in order to educate more people on what to look for when identifying these items. It is our hope that these will be enlightening.
Synthetic Sample Photo to Right: Look for air bubble indentations or small craters that appear from being poured in a mold. Surface will be smooth.
Hot Pin Test The best thing to say about this test is FORGET IT! A red hot pin will not penetrate the majority of materials unless it is a resin or plastic. It is the WORST way to identify ivory and can very likely damage your item.
Elephant Ivory and Mammoth Ivory Sample Photo to Right: Cross-hatching "X" patterns should be visible. These are NOT always as dramatic as this sample photo. Many times the grains can only be seen in a small area of the carving. Hippo Ivory does not have cross-hatch patterns. Instead it has circular patterns more like fine wood.
Synthetic--Sample Photo Left: Another example of a synthetic ivory figure. The bottom appears to be sliced, but no grains or ivory identifications can be seen. The "cut" area was done when the item was removed from the mold. Note the small holes from bubbles. Many ivory carvings have this same "cut" look, but also show the grain patterns of ivory.