Ivory: What Price Beauty?


When we lived in Hawaii, ivory jewelry, along with pearls and coral, were quite fashionable to wear in the 50s. For special occasions, my father would buy my mother, sister, and me jewelry and as young girls, we thought we were just “hot stuff” having been given such grown-up gifts.

A gift.

A gift.

Through the years, my jewelry box began to overflow with ivory as my mother handed down some pieces to my sister and me. I have since given some away or lost some.

Hawaiian Pikake flower necklace.

I also had a supervisor, Ruthie,  whose sister lived in Hawaii and sent her ivory not knowing that she didn’t care for it, so she passed it on to me.

Birthday gift.

Birthday gift.

At the time, I used to think to myself, “Lucky, lucky me!”

From Ruthie.

From Ruthie.

So here’s my dilemma: I am well aware of the elephant‘s plight. Their suffering, their slaughter, their endangered status.  According to Robert Hormats, a senior State Department official for the New York Times, “China is the epicenter of [ivory] demand” (Gettelman, NYT, September 2012). it seems that China’s increasing wealth incites their lust for luxury items.

I know there are many organizations taking up the cause, for the gentle giants cannot speak for themselves. Even Hillary Clinton has agreed to take up the cause to help combat elephant poaching (J. Eilperin, Post Politics, 2/16/13). But what can I/we do?


I admit that I am a little anxious about owning ivory— I want to sell my ivory and donate the money to an elephant conservation group like WWF. But is it right to sell the ivory to those who covet the jewelry? How do buyers know that this is ivory purchased before the ban? How do buyers know that any ivory sold on the market was purchased before the ban? I somehow feel that the selling of ivory, even mine, is ethically wrong. 

So what do I do with it all?


Daily Gratitude: entering year two of retirement; standing under our crape myrtle enveloped its perfume; fresh crab cakes with crabs harvested by Dapper G

Quote of the Day for YOU: I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower animals” (so called) and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me. ~ Mark Twain, Letters From the Earth

How you can help:


14 thoughts on “Ivory: What Price Beauty?

  1. How are you petal pusher? Post hiatus, I am slowly returning. You have intensified your greatness:-) I am saddened by the plight of the elephant. As for your ivory treasures, embrace them, pray, and then speak to your inner self and you will find your answer. *I cherish my Grandmother’s out of tune piano. She has since passed on, but the piano remains. When I visit the States, and enter her living room, I sit at the out of tune piano and feel my Grandmom’s embrace. Unable to read sheet music, she played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by ear while I would sing. I hold on dearly to those ivory memories, even though they are now out of tune.

    • Hello, Friend!
      I have also been taking a hiatus: retired from teaching, taking watercolor painting lessons, wood carving lessons, volunteering, and finishing up on a first draft for a children’s picture book! Whew! Hope this message finds you well.
      What fond memories you must have of your Grandmother and her piano. And, yes, I shall pass on the ivory to nieces and nephews and the stories of how I acquired them.

      • Hi Terry!
        Congratulations on your children’s picture book…and for the wonderful creative projects you are involved in.
        After a serious health challenge, thank God, I am victoriously fine!

        Please let me know when your children’s book is available.


  2. Great advice — to keep the jewelry and pass it on with the stories rather than allow it to fall into the hands of those who don’t care about the plight of the elephants. The other option is to donate some of it to a museum, one that might be telling the story of the elephants with their exhibits.
    Beautiful images of beautiful pieces.

  3. Keep your jewellery and wear it proudly – not as a “prize” but in reverence to the great beast who gave up it’s life for your adornment. Your jewellery hails from another time and place and means something to you. Don’t let it fall into the hands of idle collectors seeking status.

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