I use a lot of odd materials in my art, like bone, paper, seeds, resin, gems, circuitboard, metal scraps, homemade paper or jade. One of my new favorites is definitely mammoth ivory. It carves like bone with silver files or a jeweler's saw with a 0 blade but has a finer grain with subtle pattern variations. It can be scrimshawed, (a graver works well for this) but I prefer inlaying it with metal, gems or reconstituted block stone (from Thunderbid Supply). Abalone inlay works well too, but flattening out the curve on the shell is a pain in the pink bits.
Looking at ivory reminds me of Neolithic sculptures, so I like to make ancestor figurines for pagans out of them. I spent quite a bit of time researching Neolithic carvings and then reproducing variations of them. Classically Mammoth Ivory is used in knife handle scales, but I feel that the material is interesting enough to stand on its own in jewelry or in inlay into silver with other materials. It goes well with Spondylus shell, turquoise, lapis, opaque amber, jade, jet and coral.
When cutting grooves for inlay into Mammoth ivory I use an inverted cone bur intended for gemsetting on a slow speed with lots of wax as lubricant. I also like to oil my ivory before and after cutting to prevent cracking. Try not to heat the material and be very patient. Also be prepared if inlaying stone or other material to do some last minute shaping with a diamond file. Use either a good 5 minute epoxy or some extra strength super glue to hold inlay in place. When setting cabachons or faceted stones into ivory I use a tube setting or a bezel setting as prong setting distracts the eye. The jeweler's saw with a 1/0 or a 0 blade can cut tiny panes of mother of pearl or abalone for setting too in ivory, and the contrast is lovely.
To finish any piece with inlay, I use either really good quality nail hardener polish (I use it after filling claws and teeth with resin to finish those as well) or Jewelry Allergy shield. This usually stays for quite a while. If it does peel, a new coat can be applied any time it is needed.
Mammoth ivory can be bought from fossil dealers and knife making supply places. Examine pieces for splitting and cracking before purchasing. A powdery crumbling around the edges of a piece can sometimes be filed off, but that means you are technically paying for material that is unusable. Opticon resin can be used to stabilize a really nice but brittle, cracked or crumbling piece but it is a pain. The cracks must first be filled with two part epoxy and clamped together in a split piece, then soaked and treated in warmed Opticon. The hardener is then painted on, the whole is heated again, and the finished piece must have leftover resin filed off of it. Do this in really good ventilation and with gloves. I find it best to do all my opticon stabilizing at once, both mineral and bone or ivory specimens so as to save time and resin and to keep the stink within reason.
I recommend highly that any potential customers be educated as to the fact that Mammoth ivory is legal by attaching a tag to finished pieces using this material that describes its origin. l also like to include a link to the Marine Mammal Act to explain that Walrus and Narwhal ivory are illegal save for certain tribespeople and how Mammoth ivory is a legal and ethical alternative.