Mammoth Bone Is the New Ivory for Jewelery

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Using ivory for jewelery is a definite no-no and has been for awhile. But what about mammoth bones? Michelle Obama has been seen sporting mammoth ivory necklaces and bracelets lately, so what is the story?

The issue with ivory is that even though the ivory trade was banned, poachers have continued to kill elephants for their tusks which are greatly prized. Enter the woolly mammoth; dead for millions of years...

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Because they are not illegally poached and they are not decreasing the numbers of a living species, mammoth ivory is now being seen as an ecological and ethical alternative to ivory.

The mammoths are under the permafrost in Russia. There are an estimated 150 M of them so stocks are unlikely to run out soon. As a result of global warming and the melting of the permafrost, they are becoming easier and easier to get at.

Mammoth mining is big business in Siberia. Tusks from the long-gone animals are being dug up: every year 60 M tones of them are shipped to China which is the world's largest ivory market.

A recent study acknowledges that this trade could reduce demand for elephant ivory and thus reduce poaching of the African Elephant. However, there is a fear that if it enters Africa it could provide an easy disguise for poached elephant ivory. Illegal ivory traders could start selling elephant ivory disguised as mammoth ivory. However it is understood that now it does not pose a threat to the African elephants.

Some woolly mammoth facts:

--Russia sells about 60 tons of mammoth ivory to China
--There may be as many as 150 million dead mammoths (genus Mammuthus) frozen beneath the Siberian tundra just waiting to be dug up.
--Mammoth ivory can command a much higher price than elephant ivory and sells for as much as £330 per kilogram
--Woolly mammoths are thought to have first appeared on the earth 4.8 million years ago and to have finally become extinct at least 3,600 years ago.

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Michelle Obama has been wearing Monique Pean's jewelery. It may be ethical but it is also very expensive:the Woolly mammoth hand carved scrimshaw bracelet is $4,480.

Monique Pean is a former investment banker who has started a very upmarket and ethical jewelery business. She only uses recycled gold, conflict-free diamonds and other sustainable material in her jewelry. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of her jewelry goes to Charity: Water, the organization dedicated to providing clean drinking water to underdeveloped nations.