While the right shark tooth can be worth a fair amount of money, there are many sharks teeth available on the market and many of them are small, unimpressive specimens used in cheap jewelry. Great White sharks teeth and Megalodon teeth can be worth a pretty penny, however. Typically the larger a shark tooth is the more it will be worth but there are some caveats to that rule.
What to Look For
There are several key factors in evaluating the value of a shark’s tooth, particularly at the higher end of the scale such as Megalodon teeth. These factors include:
- Shape; and
Condition: The condition of a tooth takes into account a few different factors. First, the condition of the enamel on the tooth is an important aspect and can greatly increase (or decrease) its value. Enamel should be smooth and intact over the entire blade of the tooth. The root is also an important aspect and a complete root will separate a nice tooth from an exceptional one. The thin triangular band of enamel between the blade and the root is known as the bourrelet. As this enamel is very thin very few teeth will have a complete one. Finally, intact serrations along the edge of the blade will help to drive the price up.
Size: Sometimes size does matter and with sharks teeth it is an important consideration. It is important to know that the size of a shark tooth is measured diagonally along the longest edge from tip to the corner of the root and measurements should always be performed with calipers. There is a large difference in value between a tooth measuring 5.9” and a tooth measuring 6” so be wary when purchasing if they tell it a tooth is 5” or 5.5” as this may be a sign that they used a ruler to eyeball the measurements. Weight is also an important factor as it adds to the overall effect of the piece and tends to scale rapidly with size.
Restoration: There are two types of restoration one can perform on a damaged tooth in order to make it more attractive to potential buyers. There is nothing wrong with restoring teeth but be aware that it may lower their value to some collectors. Repaired teeth are teeth which have had a broken root or peeled enamel repaired or reattached. Polished teeth are ground and polished with a diamond polisher in order to bring out an attractive shine that can add defects such as severely damaged enamel. As restored teeth will be worth less for their size, they can be a good way of getting a larger piece for the same amount of money.
Shape: Mostly a matter of personal preference, the shape of a shark’s tooth indicates which part of the mouth it came from. Some collectors may prefer certain shapes.
Color: Contrary to popular belief, the color of a shark’s tooth has nothing to do with its age but rather the type of sediment in which it was buried. As the tooth fossilizes it absorbs minerals from the surrounding area and changes color. There are several different possible colors of sharks teeth and, while some collectors prefer certain colors, the overall quality of the tooth is a more important factor in determining value.