by Ms Nandita Ray
Jet is compressed driftwood which when saturated with water sinks to the floor of the sea and remains there for ages. These remains of coniferous trees get compressed and hardened and chemically changed due to heat, pressure and the chemicals present in the water.
Also called ‘Mourning Jewelry’ mainly because it has been used for such occasion and also because of its dark black color, the symbol of sadness. It flourished during the staid Victorian Age when people wore it to mourn a loved one. This was started by Queen Victoria who wore jet jewelry to mourn the death of her mother and her beloved husband Albert. Jet is fossilized coal, formed from wood. It can be carved and shaped easily and takes to polish like duck to water. It has been used since ancient times. It is believed that the first recorded use of Jet was by the Magdalenian artisans. In 1500 rosary beads were made. In the 15th century an English mourning ring decorated with a skull and with strand of hair and inscribed with date of birth was crafted for “Iohes Godefray”. Greeks were known to have used it in 200B.C.
Jet is compressed driftwood which when saturated with water sinks to the floor of the sea and remains there for ages. These remains of coniferous trees get compressed and hardened and chemically changed due to heat, pressure and the chemicals present in the water. When plants wither and die in wet environs or peat swamps, the presence of low oxygen and bacteria prevent it from decaying completely. Different debris and waste settle on it, compress it, wring out all the water and change it into Lignite. This is the lowest grade of coal and nearly half the world’s total coal reserves contain Lignite. It is brownish black in color and is called brown coal or witches amber or black amber or Agstein.
Jet is considered semi precious and real Jet is hard to get. It has a dark metallic luster and is lightweight. Best Jet is found in Yorkshire, England. Its mining started in 1850. By 1873 there were 200 Jet shops. However mining Jet is illegal today. Pieces that wash up on the shore can be collected and crafted into jewelry. Brooches, rings, pendants, earrings bracelets, rosary beads, pins and necklaces are made from this. Imitations abound and therefore buying real Jet is quite a task. French Jet is black glass made in USA. Dyed horn and plastics, Vulcanite, a sulpherized rubber, or the sap of the Mayan tree is also passed off as Jet.
Tips for buying Jet Jewelry
Real Jet will have a metallic luster.
Real Jet when rubbed will get electrically charged.
If rubbed on a rough surface it will leave a brownish color.