Difference between Rosewood and Ebony
Key difference: Rosewood refers to the wood of different trees, including trees from the Tipuana, Pterocarpus and Dalbergia genera of trees. Rosewood is essentially a type of hardwood. Rosewood is named as such due to the fact that the older trees have a very sweet and rich aroma, which is reminiscent of roses. Rosewood is best known for its dark brownish and/or reddish hue with darker veining. The rose wood has close, dense grain, which makes it strong and durable Ebony is a type of evergreen hardwood. Ebony is a dense wood that is famous for its black color. It is sourced from trees in the Diospyros genus. Ebony is a very dense wood, dense enough to sink in water. It is known for its fine texture and has a very smooth finish when polished. This makes it quite popular as an ornamental wood.
Rosewood refers to the wood of different trees, including trees from the Tipuana, Pterocarpus and Dalbergia genera of trees. These genera contain various types of tropical or subtropical leguminous trees that are most commonly found in Central and South America, Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia.
Rosewood is essentially a type of hardwood. Hardwood is the wood that comes from an angiosperm tree. This is a type of tree that has seeds that are enclosed, be it in pods, a shell, a covering or in a fruit. For example, apples or nuts and seeds like acorns and walnuts. These types of seeds allow birds and insects to be attracted to the flowers of the tree and be able to carry the pollen to other trees. This is also the reason why hardwood trees are not often bunched together but are spaced apart and often have other trees in-between them.
Most hardwood trees are also deciduous is nature. A deciduous tree is a tree that loses its leaves annually. Hardwood trees are also slower to grow, taking their own time. Due to this, most hardwood is dense. This is also the reason that hardwood is expensive, as it takes longer to grow. Some famous hardwoods include maple, balsa, oak, elm, mahogany, and sycamore.
Rosewood is named as such due to the fact that the older trees have a very sweet and rich aroma, which is reminiscent of roses. This is especially true for the Brazilian or Rio rosewood.
Rosewood is best known for its dark brownish and/or reddish hue with darker veining. The rose wood has close, dense grain, which makes it strong and durable. Hence, the wood is used for making furniture, especially cabinets. The use of rosewood to make furniture date back hundreds of years, with many examples of antique rosewood furniture being available for viewing in museums today.
Some types of rosewood, such as Honduran rosewood, have an excellent resonance that makes them ideal for musical instruments like guitars, pianos and marimbas. Rosewood is also used to make handles, flooring, billiard cues, chess pieces, etc. In fact, handles made of rosewood resist shrinkage and are long-lasting.
Also, furniture made from rosewood can be left unfinished due to the rosewood’s natural color, lightly waxed, or heavily varnished and polished, as rosewood is able to take polish very well. This gives rosewood a more finished look.
Due to the popularity and subsequent high demand for rosewood, many species of tree belonging to the genus Dalbergia, from which most rosewood in the western world is sourced are now listed as either endangered or vulnerable by the ‘Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’ or simply known as CITES.
Ebony is a type of evergreen hardwood, which means that while it is a hardwood, i.e. wood from an angiosperm tree, the tree itself is evergreen and not deciduous is nature. An evergreen tree is a tree that which keeps its leaves all year round, as oppose to a deciduous tree, which loses most or all of its leaves once a year. Other types of evergreen hardwoods include Mahogany, Teak, African Walnut, Iroko, Afrormosia and Balsa.
Ebony is a dense wood that is famous for its black color. It is sourced from trees in the Diospyros genus, mainly Diospyros ebenum, Diospyros crassiflora, and Diospyros celebica. However, the term ‘ebony’ may also be used to refer to dense woods sourced from other tree species that may have to appear to have a black or a dark colored wood hue. Sometimes, different woods may be stained a dark color and be marketed as ebony.
Diospyros ebenum, commonly known as Ceylon ebony, is native to southern India and Sri Lanka, while Diospyros crassiflora, commonly known as Gaboon ebony is indigenous to western Africa and Diospyros celebica known as Makassar ebony is inhabitant to Indonesia. Another famous ebony was the Mauritius ebony, sourced from Diospyros tesselaria, which as its name suggests is native to Mauritius. However, it was largely exploited by the Dutch in the 1600s and was almost driven to extinction. Hence, today the trees are severely protected.
Ebony is a very dense wood, dense enough to sink in water. It is known for its fine texture and has a very smooth finish when polished. This makes it quite popular as an ornamental wood. It is often used to make small carved objects. In fact, pieces carved out of ebony have been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. Ebony had once been used to make furniture as well but due to the increased prices of ebony and the environmental reasoning, mainly due to unsustainable and illegal harvesting, ebony is currently limited to small items, such as crucifixes, the black pieces of a chess set, lace-making bobbins, handgun grips, rifle fore-end tips and even butts of pool cues.
Ebony is also commonly used to make parts of musical instruments, such as black piano and harpsichord keys, violin, viola, guitar, double bass, and cello fingerboards, tailpieces, pegs, chinrests, bow frogs, plectrums, and guitar picks.
Like rosewood, ebony is famous for its use to make fret boards on guitars. It is debatable how much of an impact do fret boards have on sound, but still many claim that ebony tends to give more of a clear, crisp and bright sound, as opposed to rosewood, which is known for its warm and deep lush sound.
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