We all know colors have meaning. There's a reason some people are more drawn to reds and oranges and others choose blues and browns. But what is the meaning of ivory as a color? What does it signify? Well, let's find out.
Ivory is actually a mixture of several colors' meanings. It's tan, signifying the flexibility of its nature. It's white, conveying its association with purity and innocence. Ivory is clean and fresh and crisp; it's untarnished in color and quality.
Ivory is gold because of the mentality that ivory is expensive and valuable. Ivory has always been artificially valuable: it's worth something because humans have assigned it worth.
In Eastern cultures ivory carries the meaning of healing and prosperity, which are linked with green. This is the reason rhino horns are valuable; they are believed to have healing powers and are used in many medicinal practices.
But there are other colors in ivory too.
Ivory is red, for the violence, danger and bloodshed it brings to elephants and rhinos. The ivory trade has grown into one of great destruction.
It's gray, a sad and mournful reminder of the guilt that comes with buying an elephant's life through a carved trinket. Buttons and jewelry lose their vibrance and beauty as we realize the true cost of the object we hold.
Ivory is as black as death, a reflection of the lives lost, both human and animal, who have been slaughtered for over 100 years for ivory.
Ivory is also purple, for the majestic beauty of nature elephants represent. It shows how powerful elephants are in nature's plan. As the largest land mammals on earth, they have no natural predators, for no animal is dumb enough to take on a fully grown pachyderm.
It's blue, for the calm, friendly and intelligent nature of elephants. Their peaceful society is one of nurturing, learning and collaboration. No elephant can live without another; they depend on each other for companionship.
While ivory has been considered a valuable material, a beautiful trinket and an object of worth, in its purest form ivory is none of those things. Instead, ivory is a mixture of meaning and symbolism. It's not an object, it's a color.
Kerry Skiff is a conservation advocate and recent journalism graduate of Northern Kentucky University. She follows the ivory trade around the world, and uses her voice to educate Americans about their role in animal conservation.