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How close is ivory to white?

When it comes to describing colors, we often use terms interchangeably, thinking they mean the same thing. However, that’s not always the case. One common confusion is understanding the difference between ivory and white. While they both belong to the white color family, they are not the same.

What is Ivory?

Ivory is a pale white color with a slight tint of yellow or pink. That means it’s not a pure, bright white like what you see on a blank paper. The color ivory came from the tusks and teeth of animals, such as elephants, walrus, or whales. In the past, ivory was harvested for making jewelry, piano keys, and other decorative objects. Today, it’s illegal to trade ivory because of its harm to animal life. But ivory color still exists in textiles, paints, and interior design pieces.

What is White?

White is a color that reflects all wavelengths of light. That means it contains no hue or saturation, and it’s the brightest color you can find. When we think of white, we often imagine a snow-white, bridal white, or cotton white color. It’s a pure and clean color, and it represents innocence, purity, and clarity. White color is used in many industries and applications, such as fashion, architecture, advertising, and technology.

The Differences Between Ivory and White

Although ivory and white colors have similar properties, there are a few notable differences that set them apart.

1. Hue: As mentioned earlier, ivory has a slight hue of yellow or pink, while white contains no hue. The presence of tint in ivory makes it appear less bright than the pure white color.

2. Saturation: Saturation refers to the intensity of color. Ivory has a lower saturation than white because it has a muted tone. White, on the other hand, is the brightest color, and it has 100% saturation.

3. Perception: People perceive ivory and white differently, depending on the context. For example, a dress labeled as “ivory” may appear white in a photograph or under certain lighting conditions. Similarly, a white wall may look ivory in the presence of warm light or shadows.

When to Use Ivory vs. White?

When it comes to choosing between ivory and white, it depends on your personal preference and the purpose you want to serve.

1. Clothing: Ivory is a popular color in wedding dresses and cocktail gowns, as it adds warmth and softness to the attire. White, on the other hand, is a versatile color that can go with any style or occasion.

2. Interior Design: The color white is often used to create an airy, clean, and modern vibe in homes and offices. Ivory, on the other hand, can add a cozy, vintage, or rustic touch to the space.

3. Stationery: If you’re designing a logo, business card, or invitation, using white can give a professional, minimalist, or elegant impression. Ivory, on the other hand, can add a warm, romantic, or luxurious feel to the design.


In conclusion, ivory and white colors are different from each other, although they share a similar family. Ivory has a slight hue and a lower saturation, while white contains no hue and 100% saturation. Depending on the industry or application, choosing between ivory and white can affect the mood, tone, and perception of the work. By understanding the difference, you can make an informed decision on how to use these colors to their fullest potential.


Does real ivory turn yellow?

Ivory is a natural material that comes from the tusks of elephants, walruses, and other animals. It is a beautiful and intricate material that has been used in sculpture, carvings, and other works of art for centuries. However, over time, ivory can begin to develop a yellowish tint, which many people wonder about.

The answer to whether real ivory turns yellow is yes. Ivory and bone may develop an attractive brownish yellow “patina” over the years. This patina is the result of a natural aging process that the ivory undergoes. It is caused by the ivory’s exposure to light, heat, and humidity, as well as other environmental factors.

The patina that develops on ivory is a desirable aspect for many collectors and admirers of ivory art. It is seen as a sign of authenticity, as it is an indicator that the ivory is genuine and has not been artificially whitened or altered in any way. Some collectors even prefer the yellowed patina to the bright white color of new ivory, as it is seen as more aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking.

While many people enjoy the patina that develops on real ivory, others may wish to remove it or prevent it from developing in the first place. It is important to note, however, that attempting to whiten or alter the patina on ivory is generally not recommended. Doing so can damage the ivory and decrease its value in the eyes of collectors and art enthusiasts.

While real ivory does indeed turn yellow over time, this is typically seen as a natural and desirable aspect of the material. For those who wish to preserve the ivory’s original color and prevent the yellowing process, proper storage and care in a controlled environment is key. However, any attempts to artificially whiten or alter the ivory’s patina should be avoided.

Is ivory ever black?

Ivory is a hard, white material derived from the tusks and teeth of animals such as elephants, walruses, and hippopotamuses. Historically, ivory has been highly valued for its beauty and durability and has been used in a wide range of decorative and functional objects, from piano keys to billiard balls to jewelry.

One question that often arises about ivory is whether it is ever black. The answer is yes – sort of. The term ivory black is sometimes used synonymously with bone black which is a similar pigment made by charring animal bones. In this sense, ivory black is not actually made from ivory, but rather from the bones of other animals.

Bone black has been used as a pigment since prehistoric times, and it is still used today in applications such as artist’s paints, ink, and cosmetics. To make bone black, animal bones are heated to high temperatures in the absence of air – a process known as pyrolysis. This causes the bones to break down into a black, charred substance that is then ground into a fine powder.

So, while ivory itself is not naturally black, the pigment known as ivory black is made from animal bones and can be used to create a black color. It’s worth noting that the modern ivory black is almost always actually bone black due to the scarcity of ivory. In addition, the sale and trade of ivory from certain animals, such as elephants, is heavily regulated or banned in many parts of the world in order to protect endangered species.

While ivory itself is not black, the pigment known as ivory black is a form of bone black that is used to create a black color in various applications. However, it is important to be aware of the ethical and environmental implications of using ivory or bone-based products, and to make sure that any such products are obtained legally and responsibly.

Does ivory look like plastic?

Ivory and plastic are quite different materials with unique properties. Ivory comes from the tusks of elephants, walruses, mammoths, and other animals, while plastic is a synthetic material made from petrochemicals. However, it is possible for some plastics to resemble ivory.

One way plastics can mimic ivory is by using a molding process that creates a texture similar to ivory’s natural grain. However, the texture is usually less pronounced than that of real ivory. Additionally, some plastics can be painted or dyed to resemble the color of ivory, but the texture and weight will still be noticeably different.

Another key difference between ivory and plastic is in how they react under black light. Virtually all plastics and resins fluoresce blue or blue/white under long wave black light, regardless of the surface color in ordinary light. Genuine ivory usually fluoresces white, but this can vary depending on whether the ivory has a patina. Most natural old patinas fluoresce dull yellow or brown.

While some plastics can be made to resemble ivory to a certain extent, there are still noticeable differences in texture, weight, and fluorescence that set the two materials apart. As such, it is essential to handle any objects suspected to be made of ivory with care to ensure ethical and legal standards are met.