An organic material, Jet is crafted from fossilised wood. The product is a type of bituminous coal, so can be used for a variety of purposes including electric power heating; however, the gemstone is most commonly used in jewellery. When polished, Jet boasts a waxy surface with a strong lustre.
The uses of Jet date back to the Roman times. Back then, the stone was referred to as ‘Gagates’, after the town Gages in Lycia. The name of the material translates to ‘stone of Gages’. Jet was valued by the Greeks for its healing properties. When mixed with wine, powdered Jet was believed to relieve a toothache. When the product was mixed with beeswax, it was thought to combat tumours and cysts around the body. The Greeks also burned Jet as incense, with the intention of driving away evil spirits.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, Jet was popular for use within gemstone jewellery. Following the death of Prince Albert, the Queen wore Jet as part of her mourning clothes. Mined in Whitby, Yorkshire, Jet quickly became popular for its local heritage. From this time onwards, Jet has often been used for mourning jewellery and crafted into rosaries. In this article, we explore the lustrous black gemstone in more detail.
For trained professionals, identifying Jet is a simple process. The product can be distinguished from similar minerals by its unique microstructure; while this may appear similar to the original wood, when viewed under intense magnification the difference is clear. When polished, Jet may become confused with black glass. However, the two can be told apart by their difference in temperature. When touched, a piece of glass will feel cool. Due to its lower thermal conductivity, Jet does not have this quality and will remain at room temperature. Occasionally, black glass is used as a Jet substitute if the real product is hard to get ahold of. When used in this way, the material is referred to as ‘Vauxhall Glass’. During the Jet shortage, Ebonite was also used as a substitute; while Ebonite is almost identical in appearance, unlike Jet, the product fades over time. Other varieties of Coal may also be passed off as Jet, too. When rubbed against a light-coloured surface, though, true Jet will leave a brown mark rather than black.
Similarly to coal, Jet is formed from wood that has been submerged in water for millions of years. Over time, the mineral becomes compacted and eventually, fossilised. As Jet is a variety of bituminous coal, it gives off the unique smell of coal when burned.
It is believed that Jet was first used in 1400 BC. Thousands of years later, carved specimens of the mineral were found in prehistoric burial mounds. According to ancient legend, Jet would protect its beholder against ill health and bad luck. When it first came about, Jet was often burnt as incense. When used in this way, the mineral was believed to cure fevers, the flu, and a wide variety of other illnesses. Thought to ensure the favour of God, Jet was often used to create rosary beads for monks. Additionally, being buried with Jet was believed to protect the soul in the afterlife. Today, Jet is often used for mourning jewellery due to its sombre colouring and simple appearance.
As mentioned previously, Jet is an organic material. The stone is composed of fossilised wood, most notably, wood from Araucaria Araucana trees, or Monkey Puzzle trees, as they are often known as. Today, Jet is available in two different forms: soft and hard. Soft Jet is the product of carbon compression in fresh water, while hard Jet is made when carbon compression occurs in salt water.
While Jet is found in various locations worldwide, one of the oldest sources is Whitby, in Yorkshire. Jet from this area is estimated to by 180 million years old. Other sources of Jet include Poland, Spain, and Turkey. In these areas, the mineral is often used to make prayer beads.
Like most gemstones, Jet boasts a variety of great healing benefits. For thousands of years, Jet has been regarded as a stone of sympathy. Providing support and assistance in times of need, the stone is popular amongst those grieving the death of a loved one. Jet can also be used to combat migraines; easing pain, discomfort, and nausea, regular migraine sufferers can benefit from wearing a piece of Jet around the neck. The mineral is also thought to balance mood swings and negative emotions. With this in mind, Jet can be used by those going through the menopause or experiencing depression.
To maintain the healing properties of Jet, the stone must be cleaned frequently. Rather than using water, Jet must be placed in a bowl of sea salt. After 24 hours in the salt, the stone should be removed and placed in a bowl of rock crystals. If this cleansing method is impractical, Jet can also be buried in a bowl of dirt overnight.
Fine-quality Jet is popular all over the world. Today, the most notable deposits of the stone are found in Whitby, England although the mineral can also be found in Poland, Turkey, and Spain. Loved for its waxy surface and lustrous shine, good-quality Jet is often used in mourning jewellery. Whether you’re hoping to use the stone for its benefits within crystal healing or you’re looking for a beautiful new addition to your jewellery collection, purchase a piece of Jet to reap the benefits.