Learn about Jet

Jet is a dense black fossilised wood, almost like coal, and very light in weight. It is easy to cut, so carved well.

It became popular in the Victorian era for mourning jewellery, which became fashionable after the death of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert in 1861.

The latter part of the Victorian era was characterised by the sentimentality associated with mourning. Black has been the colour for mourning in the Western world since at least the Roman Empire, and as well as jewellery, the period saw the colour used in furniture, clothing and stationery as a mark of respect to the deceased.

Jet was in abundant supply around Whitby in Yorkshire and so jet became the obvious material for this type of jewellery. Some jet was also imported from Spain at the height of its popularity in order to meet demand.

As well as factories producing jet items, carving of the material became a cottage industry, with the fruits of labour displayed in the front window of houses in and around Whitby.

Jet may show marks of the carver's tools unlike Vulcanite, a similar coloured material which was moulded into shape. more...
These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.

A Victorian jet mourning brooch, designed as a hand clasping a posy. Length 6.3cm.

An antique jet cameo brooch; featuring a finely carved portrait. Size 55 x 46mm.

Victorian 9ct gold, jet and seed pearl brooch with silver back

Three mourning brooches, one sterling silver, rectangular bar brooch with black enamel work, inset with pearl and silver foliate motif, a 9ct yellow gold oval shaped black onyx plaque brooch set with a central single pearl and finally a jet kite shaped pla

A Victorian 15ct gold jet brooch; star set with a panel of seed pearls to key pattern border. Unmarked tests as 15ct. Dimensions 55 x 38mm.

South Australian 9ct gold cameo bar brooch by H. E. Lievre, working Port Pirie, centre panel most likely jet panel, with applied glass cameo (AF). Length 55mm. Reference: Australian Jewellers, Gold & Silversmiths, Makers & Marks by Cavill, Cocks, Grace, p.

Early 1900s Art Deco gold diamond pearl and jet brooch, with unusual moveable circular centre section

A jet portrait brooch; 50 x 43mm oval brooch inset with a painted portrait.

Two bar brooches one yellow gold set with garnet to centre the other jet black glass set with two diamonds and pearl to the centre

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