Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Term for the Day: Jet

A Whitby Jet Bracelet
English, 1870
Fifteen Karat Gold Accents
The Three Graces
The mineraloid, jet (also known as Lignite), is actually a geological material which is composed of compressed, fossilized wood. Jet is usually deep black or a dark brown and can sometimes contain gold-colored flecks of pyrite. Jet is found in two forms—hard and soft. Hard jet is the product of wood that was fossilized in saltwater. Soft jet comes from wood fossilized in fresh water. Jet has been used as a gemstone for about 10,000 years, reaching its peak in mourning jewelry of the Victorian Era in England.

Whitby Jet Victorian Necklace
The Three Graces
Most of the jet used in Victorian jewelry came from Whitby, England and is composed to the remains of Jurassic Era trees dating back 182 million years. A resurgence of popularity for jet jewelry occurred during the 1920’s when long strands of jet beads were created by jewelers. Jet looks similar to onyx. One can tell the difference between the two by rubbing the stone between your fingers. Natural jet will often produce an electrical charge. Jet is a strong and resilient material. Beloved for its subtle luster and attractive dark color, jet is still employed in jewelry making.

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