...when Jet in rising clouds consumes,
The nose provoking with its pungent fumes.
Black as a coal, but yet of lustrous shine,
It blases up like torch of driest pine...
Orpheus, 4th Century


Jet is a velvety soft, light weight, brownish to coal black gemstone that can take a beautiful high polish.

Like coral and pearls, jet is made of organic material.  Made of the fossilized wood of the monkey puzzle tree (Araucariaceae), jet was formed more than 135 million years ago.

Jet is found in two forms: hard and soft. Basically, hard jet was formed in saltwater, and soft jet was formed is fresh water.

Jet may also be referred to as black amber, and, just like amber, jet may produce a mild electric charge when rubbed.


Iron Age Jet

While in parts of Germany and Northern Europe, jet was used to make jewelry and artifacts that date back to about 10,000 BC, the oldest jet jewelry ever found was in Asturias Spain, and dated to about 17,000 BC.

Early Native American Jet

An early Native American culture called Anasazi made decorative amulets out of jet, turquoise, shell, bone and other natural materials. A particularly well-known amulet is a frog made of jet, inlaid with turquoise eyes.

The Anasazi culture was a sophisticated Native Ameircan Pueblo culture that existed from about 900 to 1200 AD. Extensive Anasazi archaeological sites are located in an area called Chaco Canyon near the four corners region of New Mexico.

Medieval Jet

In Medieval Europe, jet was known as "black amber," and like amber, rosaries were often made of jet.

Victorian Jet

During the late 19th century Queen Victoria popularized the wearing of jet mourning jewelry after her mother and Prince Consort died in the same year. In March of 1861, Queen Victoria's mother died, and nine months later her Prince Consort, Prince Albert, died of typhoid fever. Devastated, Victoria entered a state of mourning for the rest of her life. As a result of the Queen's sombre mourning dress, black clothing and jewelry, including jet jewlery, became extremely popular.
Whitby, a town on the northeast coast of England, was famous for the manufacture of jet jewelry. In the
1870s, at the height of the jet jewelry-making industry, over 200 miners and 1500 other jet workers were employed in the region of Whitby. The Whitby Museum has one of the largest collections of jet artifacts in the world, including brooches, pendants, chess boards, models of Whitby Abbey and others.

1920s Jet
During the Roaring Twenties, women and young flappers would wear multiple strands of jet beads stretching
from neck to waist. Jet beads were strung using heavy cotton thread, with small knots between each bead.


Angel: Hanael

Planet: Saturn

Zodiac: Capricorn

US States
Kentucky: coal, official state mineral
Utah: coal, official state rock

See Also


Her Royal Highness, the Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne (Louise Caroline Alberta, 1848-1939, Queen Victoria's 4th daughter) wearing a double strand of Whitby jet beads and an ivory cherub brooch.

Ancient jet and bronze bracelets found at an Iron Age archaeological site at Magdalenenberg Germany, near the southwestern tip of the Black Forest.

Anasazi frog amulet made of jet with inset turquoise, found at the Pueblo Bonito archaeological site in Chaco Canyon New Mexico.

Gold Victorian brooch set with jet carved with an image of the Madonna.

Victorian Whitby jet brooch

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