Ivory for Art at JOGS Tucson Gem & Jewelry Show

Ivory for art, run by the owner William, makes beautiful and original pieces from elephant ivory piano keys which he purchased many years ago in London. This is a one of a kind booth with unique jewelry at a very reasonable price.

I noticed walking by that you have one of the most unusual booths in Tucson. What is Ivory for Art?

40 years ago, I was living in London, I bought 2 tons of ivory form a ware house that was stockpiling offcuts and waste products for 150 years. The family was purveyors of ivory in europe. I thought it was a good investment, and I bought it all. Today, after my retirement form my antique shop in New Orleans, I decided I would make jewelry form it, to keep my hands flexible. I have no competition in the United States, making jewelry from antique piano keys.

Is this all elephant ivory?

Elephant ivory was the only ivory ever used for important mechanical, musical, pianos or anything of that nature.

Is all of this legal ivory?

I used to be a US Fish and Wildlife Agent, I was deputized in 1981 and we had the largest seizure of walrus ivory in Alaska!

Where does the scrap material come from?

What happens when they made piano keys – if it wasn’t perfect, within millimeters of perfection in width and design. Ivory is like a tree – it grows, and it has flaws, and it had to be just perfect. If it wasn’t ivory wasn’t very valuable years ago, so they would just story the scrap, and people would buy it and make mosaics, and other things.

I make ivory chain, I make ivory earrings, bracelets, and I invented this specific style, you can only do this with ivory… you put the ivory in water and a chemical and let it sit there around a wooden dowel, and when it dries, it gets this curly shape. Nobody in the world can cut a tusk to make piano keys, and then use this technique to make it curl.

What does the rough material cost?

We sell ivory from 50 cents a gram to about a dollar a gram.

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