Does real ivory turn yellow?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

Real ivory can turn yellow over time. Ivory is a natural material that comes from the tusks of elephants, walruses, and other animals. When first harvested, ivory is usually creamy white in color. However, as it ages, it can develop a yellow or brownish yellow hue. This change in color is known as a patina.

The patina on ivory is a result of a natural aging process and can be influenced by various factors such as exposure to light, air, and moisture. Over time, the ivory absorbs substances from its surroundings, which can cause the color to change. Additionally, the oils from human hands and exposure to smoke can also contribute to the development of a patina.

It’s important to note that the development of a patina is considered a desirable characteristic for antique ivory artifacts. It adds to their charm and authenticity, giving them a sense of history and age. Many collectors and enthusiasts actually prefer ivory with a patina, as it can enhance the beauty and value of the piece.

Attempting to whiten or remove the patina from ivory is generally not recommended. Not only is it difficult to do so without causing damage to the artifact, but it may also be seen as unethical. The process of whitening often involves the use of harsh chemicals or bleaching agents, which can degrade the ivory and alter its natural composition.

Ivory artifacts with a yellowed patina are often considered more valuable and sought after by collectors. The patina is seen as a sign of authenticity and can indicate the age and history of the piece. It tells a story of the artifact’s journey through time and adds character to its appearance.

I personally have come across many antique ivory pieces with a beautiful yellowed patina. The warm, golden hue adds a certain elegance to the artifacts and gives them a sense of timelessness. It’s fascinating to think about the years of use and the different hands that have touched these objects, leaving behind traces of their existence in the form of a patina.

Real ivory can indeed turn yellow over time due to natural aging processes and exposure to various substances. The development of a patina is considered desirable for antique ivory artifacts and should not be removed. Embracing the patina adds to the charm, authenticity, and value of the piece, allowing us to appreciate its history and journey through time.