On July 31, Ivory Lane Singapore officially went live, inviting folks to take a gander at their “finest collection made of nature’s most luxurious material — ivory.”
As much as we wish this was actually satire (and maybe it actually is?), the brand seems to take itself very seriously, with highly-polished marketing videos focusing on the bougie beauty and craftsmanship of ivory finery. You know, the material made from tusks and teeth of animals (typically elephants) that led to the extinction of Syrian and North African elephants due to extensive demand back in the day? An illegal trade that has seen poachers continue to slaughter elephants across the African continent — a gruesome industry kept alive by demand in Asia?
All the marketing sheen, high-quality branding and well thought out design of Ivory Lane can’t hide the fact that its products are the result of human cruelty and savagery. So it should come to no surprise that the jewelers have been overwhelmed with condemnation since its Facebook page was launched.
But what is Ivory Lane’s deal anyway? According to their website, the brand was founded by 32-year-old Ivy Chng, a Singaporean lady who grew up overseas for quite some time before traveling across Africa and Asia as a documentarian, where she “interacted with numerous Asian and African tribes.” She founded Ivory Lane this year as a tribute to her roots — Chng apparently inherited vintage ivory jewelry family heirlooms.
Products displayed for sale include necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, with prices ranging from $180 to $800.
“I strongly believe that every piece of our jewelry is more than just an accessory – it is a way to preserve our heritage and our past,” the site quotes Chng as saying. The site is, of course, full of self-indulgent copy and fluffed-up sentences that mean nothing.
In response to all the flak they’ve received, Chng issued a notice yesterday defending her brand. According to her, the sale of her jewelry is justified because the ivory products she uses are apparently vintage — before the import and export of elephant ivory was banned in 1990.
“Ivory Lane does not import any new ivory into Singapore. All our ivory products are made of vintage ivory, before 1990,” Chng claims.
Her assurances are dubious at best. How would she be able to know the exact dates when the tusks were ripped out of the elephants? Also, being sourced pre-1990 isn’t the issue here — ivory in itself is in no way an ethically sourced product, and consumers shouldn’t be encouraged to purchase it.
Before you wonder, yes, it is actually legal to buy ivory in Singapore, so as long as it is from pre-’90s stock, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
“This poses its own problems as it can be very tricky to prove what era ivory comes from and there is a chance that recently poached ivory could masquerade as vintage ivory,” wrote WWF. But good news — Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon announced in Parliament last year that the government will ban the sale of ivory here. No timeframe has been introduced or announced since, however.
Is Ivory Lane for real though?
“We only offer the purest form of ivory, sourced from the natural environments of central Africa,” Chng actually wrote.
Perhaps we’re putting too much faith in mankind, but the utter obliviousness of Chng and the pretentious brand marketing seems designed to elicit extreme outrage and reaction from netizens. It could very well be a marketing stunt that aims to bring awareness that the domestic trade of ivory is still alive in Singapore, and we should be doing something about it.
The brand is now gearing up for a “Digital Launch” event on Aug. 3, and perhaps we’ll know by then if Ivory Lane is either (sadly) for real or just a really clever animal rights campaign.
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