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Berchemia zeyheri

Berchemia zeyheri (syn. Rhamnus zeyheri and Phyllogeiton zeyheri) of the family Rhamnaceae, the buckthorn family

A rare exotic from southern Africa, varying in color from pink to red. Also: red ivory. Closely related to brown ivory. This is a very hard and dense wood. Just barely floats (some pieces may sink)

NOTE: I have seen conflicting reports on the scarcity of pink ivory. No one disputes that it is one of the more rare woods in the world, but some reports say that vendors grossly exaggerate the scarcity to drive up the price. If that's the case, then they have certainly been successful, as it is quite expensive.

A couple of correspondents have confirmed for me that the color here (other than those of the BogusColorVendor) are quite possible, as the wood sometimes takes on an almost neon, glow-in-the-dark, pink color

Color change in pink ivory can be a problem, as discussed in an interesting article on eBay by Wood Scientist Scotty Drye. Click here: pink ivory [THIS LINK APPEARS TO HAVE DIED]

my samples:
NOTE: these pics were all taken in very bright incandescent lighting ("soft white" at 2700K)
colors will vary under other lighting conditions

both sides of a sample plank of pink ivory / Berchemia zeyheri --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. There is a light curl on this piece as you can see in the end grain shot and somewhat in the enlargements of the face grain shots.

end grain and HIGH GRIT END GRAIN CLOSEUP of the piece directly above

NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of pink ivory / Rhamnus zeyheri --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. A few of Mark's samples had a light coat of wax and this was one of them but the wax had pretty much no effect on the color of this wood, probably because of the density. This can be seen clearly by the fact that the end grain, which I sanded very lightly for the end grain shot and then with a finer grain for the end grain update, is not significantly different in color than the face grain (the update is darker, but that's explained in the linked discussion of the update process). This is a really nice sample of pink ivory and I'm particularly grateful to Mark for the loan because formal samples of this wood cost a bit more than I like to spend on samples. Rhamnus zeyheri is a synonym for Berchemia zeyheri.

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

a small, wafter-thin, sample --- the color of the pic is just a hair more pink than the wood. I don't mean that the wood is a less vibrant color than the pic, just that the shade of red is slightly different.

four shots of a piece cut-off of the end of a plank --- pics provided by John Fuher whom I thank for this and many other contributions to the site --- HUGE enlargements are present. John tells me he cut the end with a very sharp Japanese saw, did no sanding or other cleanup, then took all the pics in hazy sunlight and color-correct them to look as much like the wood as he could make them.

The piece that John took the pics of (see directly above) he then sent to me and I've sanded the surfaces show in the pics to 400 grit and taken pics in bright incandescent light. I note that my sanding to 400-grit only made a small improvement in the fine grain detail of the pics --- John wasn't kidding when he said that Japanese saw that he used was REALLY sharp. For all of the pics in this section, HUGE enlargements are present. The color is very accurate.

the piece

flat cut surface and a closeup of it

end grain and end grain closeup

web pics:


logs and crotch

plank with wet and dry sections


end grain and side grain of a bowl blank

planks listed as pink ivory / Berchemia zeyheri

misc pieces of pink ivory / Berchemia zeyheri, all from the same vendor and all with a color that I find very accurate

planks, all from the same vendor

misc planks and turning stock of pink ivory, all from the same vendor and all slathered with wax, making the color much richer than the raw wood

curly pink ivory from the same vendor as the batch directly above

bookmatched slab pair with one of them moistened for the pic

end grain

turning stock

turning stock listed as pink ivory / Berchemia zeyheri

curly planks

figured planks

mottled planks

both sides and two closeups of a fiddleback plank

fiddleback planks and a closeup

All of the ones with the ruler are from the same vendor and while I think it likely that the red component of the color is exaggerated, I find it believable that this could be just an effect of digital cameras and not a deliberate misrepresentation. The first picture seems to me to be most representative of the wood, but this is speculation since I've never actually seen a piece; just lots of pictures on the web. For all I know, the wood might always look like what is shown in the last 4 pics above, which is more purple than pink. I have been assured by one site visitor that the pink color in many of these pictures is quite accurate

bookmatched scales --- correspondent Warrick Edmonds reported this: "looking at the Pink Ivory collection and noticed your comment on colour. I'm currently holding four pieces of the real stuff in my hand and can tell you that they match best to your group of four bookmatched scales in the line of bookmatched scales. There is no purple tint at all, just a light candy pink trending to golden sandy colour in the sapwood. Some of the darker bands are mid-cherry colour."

bookmatched scales of curly pink ivory

turning sticks

scales listed as pink ivory / Rhamnus zeyheri

pen turning blanks that have been waxed, thus the darker color

pen blanks listed as pink ivory / Rhamnus zeyheri

lotus flower bowl turned and carved from a 5"x3" blank by John Fuher whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site --- HUGE enlargements are present

bowls by Bryan Nelson (NelsonWood). Bryan fine-polishes his bowls with 1200 or even higher grit sandpaper while they are spinning at high speed on the lathe and then finishes them there with a friction polish of his own devising, thus achieving a shine and color vibrancy that is beautiful to behold. These bowls are all about 6" across.

6"x2" bowl by Steve Earis

pink ivory turned box with ebony finial

more web-pics, but these are all from the BogusColorVendor. I don't for a minute believe that any of these pieces are nearly as red as shown in these pictures since heavy red color saturation is typical of their misrepresentation of wood.

more recent planks from the same vendor with colors that are much more likely to be real