The wood commonly known as Pink Ivory is known to botanists and other scientists as Berchemia zeyheri. B. zeyheri grows predominantly in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Northern Botswana and South Africa. B. zeyheri is protected and sustainably maintained in South Africa, only felled by very limited permit.
For the sake of simplicity and common understanding, I will refer to B. zeyheri as Pink Ivory for here forward.
The heartwood of Pink Ivory ranges in color from a pale brownish pink, to a bright, almost neon pink, to a deep red. Typically the most valuable pieces of Pink Ivory are a vibrant pink. Pink Ivory can commonly be seen with a curly or fiddleback grain pattern, further enhancing its visual impact. Sapwood of Pink Ivory tends to be pale yellow to light brown, with a somewhat gradual demarcation from heartwood. Color changes in Pink Ivory (becoming faded or dull over time) can be problematic and are not fully understood.
The grain of Pink Ivory is straight to interlocked with a fine even texture with good natural luster.
Pink Ivory is rated as durable to very durable regarding decay resistance. Pink Ivory is said to have excellent weathering characteristics though it is seldom used in applications where this would be an issue.
Pink Ivory has a pronounced blunting effect on cutting edges, and it’s fairly difficult to work in board form. Tearout can occur on figured or quartersawn sections during planing. Pink Ivory is much more common in applications involving carving or turning, and it turns and finishes well.
Pink Ivory has a distinct and somewhat unpleasant odor when being worked.
Pricing and Availability:
Reputed to be a scarce commodity, Pink Ivory is typically very expensive, usually on par with Gaboon Ebony, another pricey African import.
In this blog, I almost always recommend several vendors with whom I have done considerable business and in whom I have great confidence. These vendors are: West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NC Wood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U.
At this time, West Penn Hardwoods, WoodTurningz and Exotic Woods USA are the only vendors offering bowl blank sizes, ranging in size from 8 x 8 x 2 for $63 (WPH) to 5 x 5 x 3 for $60 (WT) and 6 x 6 x 2 for $76 (EWU). Bell Forest Products offers only pen blank sizes while Griffin Exotic Woods offers a wide range of spindle sizes.
Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers. In your search for Pink Ivory this can be an invaluable resource provided you use multiple search terms to capture all the possible listings. I can’t speak to the quality of any of the listed dealers, but Woodfinder does have the advantage of allowing searches to be performed based on location which might allow an interested buyer to visit a listed wood dealer in person to hand pick pieces at a comfortable price.
A significant problem with using Woodfinder is that many vendors are listed for woods that, upon further investigation, they do not offer. I don’t know if perhaps once they did and they didn’t update their listings or if some vendors use a standardized list of woods that include most everything conceivable with the idea that once you land on their page you will find something you want to buy even if you didn’t know it beforehand. It happens to me all the time!
Pink Ivory finds use is such items as: carving, veneers, inlay, knife handles, billiard cues, chessmen, and other turned objects.
Pink Ivory is NOT listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices nor is it listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.