Uncovering the Mysteries: How Much are Elk Ivory Teeth Worth?

From prehistoric bartering chips to modern day keepsakes, elk ivory teeth have captivated humankind for ages. But their unique properties also make them difficult to accurately value. These ivories embody the wild spirit of their elk origins while carrying personal meaning for the hunter. Let’s explore the cultural allure of elk ivories and what factors determine their monetary worth today.

What are Elk Ivory Teeth?

  • Formally called canines, elk ivory teeth are vestigial upper incisors.
  • Remnants of tusk-like teeth from ancient elk ancestors.
  • Only male elk grow them.
  • Situated in upper jaw, usually 2-4 inch long.
  • Yellowish in color, smooth enamel exterior.
  • Interior dentine core prone to decay.
  • Shed and regrown annually like antlers.
  • Used by male elk in dominance displays.

So in essence, elk ivories are a set of protruding canine teeth unique to male elk. They represent an evolutionary relic, providing a glimpse into the prehistoric origins of these majestic animals.

Symbolic and Cultural Significance

For thousands of years, elk ivories have carried important meaning for various cultures:

  • Valued as symbolic trophies by elk hunters.
  • Signified status and used as currency by Native American tribes.
  • Incorporated into cultural garments and jewelry.
  • Prized as crafting material and carving medium.
  • Reminders of the deep connection between humans and nature.

Elk ivories embody wilderness, resilience, and survival They conjure up images of grand landscapes, traditional practices, and the might of elk. As such, elk ivories resonate on personal, cultural, and spiritual levels

Determining Factors of Elk Ivory Value

Given their uniqueness and mystique how can we attach a monetary value to elk ivories? Here are key factors that determine their worth


  • Longer ivories are more rare and valuable.
  • Premium sizes range from 2.5 – 4 inches.
  • Size proportionate to elk maturity.


  • Intact enamel and unblemished surface increases value.
  • Cracked or badly stained lowers worth.

Supply and Demand

  • Fixed supply depending on elk harvests.
  • Fluctuating demand from collectors and crafters.

Cultural Importance

  • Higher value for tribal, ethnic, or regional significance.
  • Varies based on historical and ceremonial relevance.

Artistic Value

  • uniqUE shapes, patterns or colors raise value.
  • Interesting variations boost appeal to designers.


  • Where and how the ivory was acquired matters.
  • Verifiable hunting details increases worth.

With so many variables, elk ivory prices remain dynamic rather than fixed. But we can examine some general pricing guidelines.

Typical Price Range for Elk Ivories

Elk ivory prices vary considerably based on the aforementioned criteria. But here is an overview of typical market values:

  • Small or single ivories: $20 – $75
  • Average matched pair: $150 – $250
  • High-end large pairs: $300 – $500+

For individual loose elk ivories, prices usually range from $20 for a 1-inch piece to over $75 for a premium 3-4 inch. Complete matched pairs in good condition fetch $150 to $250 on average. Top-tier pairs over 3 inches can surpass $300 and reach over $500, especially for unique characteristics or cultural significance.

Beyond loose elk ivories, finished jewelry, carvings, and other crafted items command much higher prices due to artistic value and labor.

Factors That Decrease Elk Ivory Value

While pristine elk ivories command top dollar, certain qualities diminish their worth:

  • Fractures, chips or cracks
  • Discoloration or staining
  • Signs of decay or dryness
  • Asymmetry between sides
  • Unverified hunting source
  • Lack of size, smoothness or sheen

Any visible flaws or damage makes elk teeth less valuable to carvers, crafters and collectors seeking perfection. Similarly, odd shapes or dull surfaces get discounted versus smooth, symmetrical ivories with lustrous enamel.

What Impacts Elk Ivory Price Trends?

Like any finite resource, prices fluctuate in response to:

  • Elk hunting regulations and harvest rates
  • Popularity of elk ivory art and crafts
  • Cultural shifts in elk hunting and ivory significance
  • Demand from emerging markets like Asia

For instance, a rise in elk hunting may increase supply and lower prices. Meanwhile, ivory jewelry gaining prominence can stoke demand. Economic factors, niche markets, and cultural tastes all play a role in long-term elk ivory value patterns.

Ethical Concerns Over Hunting and Ivory Trade

Some oppose elk hunting and the ivory trade over conservation concerns. Controversies also surround poaching and illegal trafficking. However, regulated elk hunting remains vital for herd management and ecosystems. Most ivory commerce follows legal channels and ethical practices.

Overall, humane, sustainable elk hunting and ivory procurement upholds strong cultural heritage and livelihoods. Bans could eradicate these traditions and shift demand towards black markets. Thus, education and fair

Polishing Elk Ivory


Are elk teeth worth money?

Many Indians placed high value on ivories when trading. The larger, darker- stained teeth of bulls were most prized. Early explorers compared the exchange of elk ivories among Native Americans to a form of currency.

What to do with elk ivory teeth?

Hunters often credit the ivories for elk’s musical sounds, but that’s just an old wives’ tale. Fashionable sportsmen never leave the ivories behind, regularly turning them into rings, necklaces, hatbands, pendants, watches, cufflinks, belt buckles, tie tacks, and more.

Is elk ivory illegal?

When Assembly Bill 96 was signed (now Fish and Game Code section 2022), it made the commercialization of ivory and rhinoceros horn illegal in California, with limited exceptions.

Are elk ivories real ivory?

All elk have two upper canine or eye teeth. Some- times called ivories, these teeth are vestigial tusks and are actual ivory.

How much are elk ivory teeth worth?

Generally, larger and more pristine teeth tend to command higher prices. Additionally, the market for elk ivory teeth can fluctuate, with prices often influenced by factors such as supply and demand. Overall, the value of elk ivory teeth can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars, depending on various factors.

Are elk teeth ivory?

The presence of two upper canines is one of the distinctive features of the elk among the deer species. According to reports, these canine teeth are ivory, the same material as the long tusks of wild boars, walruses, and elephants. The canines are the only ivory teeth in the elk’s mouth, an item coveted by many worldwide because of its rarity.

Are elk teeth a tusk?

When we think of ivory, we think of an elephant’s tusks, or the teeth of a walrus, a whale or a hippo. But few people realize elk in North America are actually carrying around a remnant from their prehistoric ancestors, which you can find in their teeth. However, these “ivories” can be easy to miss if you don’t know where to look.

Are elk ivory necklaces worth a dollar?

Custom Elk Ivory Necklace From My First Bull! This question has been asked for thousands of years, as Native Americans once used elk ivories as a form of currency. Today, they still carry a certain value, particularly among jewelers and craft enthusiasts, but it’s difficult to put a dollar amount on them.

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