Where Past Meets Present: The Artistry Of Fossils In Fine Art Accessories

by Todd Rauchwerger

The value of beachfront property and the work of artists who have passed continues to appreciate over time, quite simply because, as the saying goes, “they aren’t making any more of it”. This statement could not be more aptly applied than to the work of artists who incorporate prehistoric treasures like 10,000 year old mammoth ivory into their works.

Before the invention of plastics, ivory was used by our ancestors for everything from household items like cutlery to musical instruments and decorative art objects. Sadly the desirability of this lustrous yet hard material since the 1980s caused the rapid decline of the elephant population and ivory African elephants is severely restricted or banned for import in many countries.

Ivory trade from the tusks of dead mammoths is legal as it does not threaten any living species. Trade in this ivory has occurred for over 300 years although for obvious reasons this source is extremely rare and costly.

At J.W. Cooper we are honored to feature museum quality pieces sculpted by our finest American artists into fine art sculptures and belt buckles made with mammoth ivory, Siberian Jet (a semi-precious fossil stone millions of years old in the carbon family) and fossilized walrus tusks. Our artists incorporate this highly sought after material in detailed carvings and inlays combined with sterling silver, 18K gold, opals, turquoise and sapphires. No two pieces are alike.

A stunning example of the intricacy of works possible with fossilized materials is our Macaw Totem titled “Parrots In Bloom” pictured at left. This piece was sculpted from a single large fossilized walrus tusk from the Bering Sea estimated to be between 1000 to 5000 years old. The original skin is still visible at the base. In this delicate rainforest scene a pair of Macaws are perched atop a tree surrounded by separately carved Hibiscus and Datura flowers from high color ivory and mother-of-pearl. Do click on the image to see the the details in this magnificent piece.

The beauty and originality of mammoth ivory can be incorporated simply and classically into a dress buckle such as our Sterling Silver Dress Buckle pictured at right. 

 Its clean lines give it an elegant look while the inlay of prehistoric mammoth ivory make it a sure conversation starter.

The incorporation of fossilized materials into one-of-a-kind art created pieces that are both stunning in beauty as well as highly valued for the limits of their source. See our collection of prehistoric art pieces made by hand.