Discovered around 1839, Vulcanite was patented by Charles Goodyear in 1846. It is essentially a rubber compund that has been hardened by the addition of chemicals and heat. It is mostly black in colour and was used as a substitute for jet, which is a fossilised wood, black in colour and similar to coal. Vulcanite items can be highly polished when manufactured, but over time they become dull and the black colour fades to a dark brown. The process is accelarated if the Vulcanite is contatnly exposed to strong light. Vulcanite items will be moulded, whilst jet items are carved, and this difference can be used to distinguish between the two materials. Because of their colour, both Vulcanite and jet were used for mourning jewellery. As well as its use in jewellery, Vulcanite was also used for vesta cases, buttons, combs, fountain pens and in the manufacture of cameras.
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