Where can I buy an ivory bracelet

Purchase and sale of old ivory

We keep getting inquiries from private individuals who want to sell their old ivory jewelry, carvings or even entire tusks. This is not surprising, as the amount of old ivory including finished products in Germany is estimated at around 50 tons. For several years, this material has been offered for sale more and more, also due to the change of generations. Unfortunately, there are some limits to trade here that you should definitely pay attention to. We try to give you a brief overview here.

In general, private individuals are allowed to own ivory from an old possession, donation or inheritance even without a species protection certificate. This did not exist before 1976 and ivory was freely available until the end of 1989.

The currently valid EU regulation relates to the trade, i.e. the purchase and sale of ivory, also from private parties, e.g. to a dealer or processor. You can download the exact legal text of the EC regulations on the website of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).


In order to be able to sell your old ivory, you need a so-called EC certificate from your responsible species protection authority. Depending on the federal state, these can be cities or municipalities, district offices or regional councils.

In order to receive a certificate at a later date, the age or the origin of the ivory must be proven.

Subsequent issuance of an EC certificate is therefore entirely possible, but under certain circumstances difficult or associated with considerable costs. In the case of doubtful origin, the authority can certainly request an expert opinion, which, depending on the examination method, can be associated with considerable costs. The fees for an EC certificate also differ from state to state and can easily exceed the value of an ivory work. If you are unsure about this, we will be happy to try to determine a value and, if necessary, the sales opportunities.

Processed products such as jewelry, figurines, everyday objects that were created before June 1st, 1947 are considered antiques and can be sold within the EU without an EC certificate. For this purpose, however, an age report from one recognized by the BfN is required Experts necessary.

Ivory, both raw and processed and acquired before 02/26/1976 or imported into the EU is considered a prior acquisition. In order to receive an EC certificate for these pieces, proof of purchase or import must be provided. Unfortunately, there are often no more documents, but old photos, hunting licenses, passport entries or employment contracts from stays in Africa can be helpful. A notarized affidavit may also be required. If the authority also requires an age analysis using the C14 method, you should definitely get a cost offer, as an analysis can quickly cost several hundred euros, which is hardly worthwhile with smaller teeth.

Between 02/26/1976 and 01/18/1990 ivory could be freely purchased within the EU, since at that time the trade was not yet obliged to show the corresponding Cites numbers. Here, too, in most cases there should no longer be any documents, so that a corresponding expert opinion may be necessary here as well. The respective authority decides how to proceed in each individual case, taking into account your information.

Legal importation after January 18th, 1990 is no longer possible with the exception of hunting trophies, which may not be used for commercial purposes.

However, it is still possible to sell ivory imported before January 18, 1990 and then processed, although until January 1, 2009 only the Cites number and weight had to be specified for items under 1 kg. In order to receive an EC certificate for the items purchased during this period, the old invoice must be presented.

Until October 2014 it was possible to export so-called pre-acquisition ivory (before 02/26/1976) on request outside the EU, e.g. to China. In the meantime, however, export permits are no longer issued, which means that the prices that have been higher up to now have now normalized again.

You can find more information about ivory and mammoth here: https://www.mammutwerkstatt.de/material/elfenbein/