Pink Ivory remains one of the most elusive, coveted and highly desirable of all the world’s many exotic woods. Despite being indigenous to Southern Africa, the wood is rare throughout its home continent. What isn’t exported abroad is said to be hoarded by rich, hierarchical families throughout Africa, as the wood is considered to be on the same level of value as diamonds and emeralds.
Its reputation in the US is that of being one of the most elusive, difficult-to-source of all exotic woods, and one of the “holy grail” exotic tonewoods in the eyes of many guitar builders.
Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Instruments, decorative items, veneer, inlay / decorative, knife & gun handles, billiard cues, chessmen, and other turned objects.
Comments: In addition to its dazzling colors, texture and overall supremely regal appearance, Pink Ivory possesses great density (3230 lbf, on the Janka Hardness scale), making it well suited for a variety of applications. It is very popular with wood carvers and turners, alike, although it can be difficult to work and has reputation for dulling saw blades.
The Wood Database lists trees as growing to maturity at heights ranging from 100 – 130 feet, and trunk diameters of 3 to 5 feet. This, however, is inaccurate as trees rarely grow past 35 feet in height with trunks around one foot in diameter. The tree is protected and sustainably maintained in South Africa, only felled after the issuance of very limited permitting by respective state government environmental authorities. Given this, it’s little wonder that finding any Pink or Red Ivory beyond small craft-sized pieces has proven a very difficult task in the US.