National Jeweler Network

Public Policy & Issues

Ivory, rhino horn ban now in effect in NY

August 14, 2014

New York--The sale of elephant ivory, mammoth ivory and rhino horn officially is banned in the State of New York, following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signing of the legislation Tuesday.

The permanent ban on the sale of these products in New York also enhances efforts to tighten the ivory trade ban on a federal level, according to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. 

Still, the JVC notes, the ban has a few exceptions that authorize New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation to issue permits for the sale of the following items made from elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn.

First, 100-year-old antiques comprised of less than 20 percent elephant ivory with documented proof of provenance can be sold (with permit), as well as musical instruments (string, wind and pianos) manufactured prior to 1975. 

The exception also extends to elephant ivory where transfer of ownership is for educational and scientific purposes (including a transfer to a museum authorized by a special charter from the legislature), and to elephant ivory where the transfer is to a legal beneficiary of a trust or estate.

All other sales of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn now are banned in New York, effective immediately. 

Existing license and permit holders can sell ivory and rhino horn as defined on their current licenses and permits until they expire, the JVC said, and the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation has been directed to provide additional information on complying with the ban within 30 days.

Penalties for violating the ban include a fine of $3,000 or twice the value of the article, whichever is greater, for the first offense, and a fine of $6,000 or three times the value of the article, whichever is greater, for the second offense.

Selling banned articles that have a value exceeding $25,000 is now a Class D felony, which carries a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment. 

New York joins New Jersey in halting the trade of ivory and rhino horn. On Aug. 5 Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill prohibiting most sales of ivory (elephant, mammoth, hippopotamus, narwhal, walrus or whale) and rhino horn.

Questions on the ban can be directed to the JVC’s Assistant General Counsel Sara Yood at sara@jvclegal.org or 212-997-2002.