Feature Gems & Gemology, Summer 1981, Vol. 17, No. 2

Hornbill Ivory

A rare gem material is found in the skull of the helmeted hornbill, an exotic bird native to Southeast Asia. This yellowish-white material with its unique, vibrant, brownish-red coating has been valued for carvings by the Chinese and other Asian societies for many centuries and has recently captivated Western collectors as well. The author reviews the nature of this material and some of the forms into which it has been fashioned, as well as means of identifying hornbill ivory from other ivories and from imitations.