From the Latin eboreus, ivory is a phosphatic secretion that forms the tusks of elephants and certain other animals, and which has been sculpted into decorative objects since the Paleolithic era. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans and Romans were all skilled ivory carvers, as were the Japanese, Chinese and Indians. The town of Dieppe was for many years France’s most important ivory-carving center. Today elephants are a protected species and consequently all ivory on the market should come from existing stocks. It is fashioned mainly into ornamental objects, necklaces and bracelets. Ivory has only rarely been used by Cartier as the main inspiration for an object, with remarkable results: in 1919 the jeweler created its so-called “Sudanese bracelets”, a series of astonishing African-inspired bracelets in ivory, decorated with enameled gold, coral or onyx and diamonds. Examples of more classic creations are the precious shafts of pen-holders and the handles of paper-knives, sometimes enhanced with enamel, which the jeweler made in the early years of the century. Hardness: 2 to 3. Africa.