Ivory comes from animal teeth and tusk and has been used traditionally by many different cultures. It can be very difficult to tell real ivory from synthetic or fake ivory. The problem is that real ivory varies so much in color and grain. There are ways of telling fake ivory from real ivory just by performing a few tests. Of course to be 100% sure a chemical test has to be done. Ivory was used for centuries in Chinese dragon artwork and Eskimo Carving.
Most fake ivory is made up of either plastic or a resin of old ivory that is ground down and mixed with another synthetic. Bone carvings are also easily confused with ivory carvings. Bone carvings are generally have far less value than those of ivory. Plastic and resins are usually smoother than real ivory. Looking at bone under magnification you will see a lot of pitting something that real ivory will not have.
The hot pin test can help you determine the difference between plastic, synthetic, bone and ivory. Its best to perform this test on the bottom of the object that is not visible as it may cause damage to plastic objects. Heat a needle until it is extremely hot than touch the needle against the object you are testing. A hot needle can not penetrate real ivory like it will a plastic or resin. When you touch bone with a hot needle smell the area that you touched. It should have a very unique smell like burning hair. When you touch ivory with a hot needle you will smell something more like a burning teeth dentist office type smell. Passing this test is a pretty good indication that you have real ivory.
If your collecting ivory a magnifying glass of 15x is a must and a UV light is recommended.