Jet Gemstone history
Evidence suggests that jet has been mined since about 1400BC, and worked pieces of jet have been found in prehistoric burial mounds. During the Roman occupation of the British Isles, worked pieces of jet were shipped to Rome. Perhaps the most famous historical source is Whitby in Yorkshire, England, where much of the jet that was so popular for the mourning jewellery of the 19th century originated. It is less popular and widely used in modern times.
Jet Gemstone in Jewellery
Jet is a relatively soft gemstone, therefore is used in protected designs including earrings and necklaces. For the same reason jet is rarely is used in rings. Jet jewellery should be stored separately from other gem stones and should not be clean in steam or ultrasonic cleaners. As jet is polished easily (and is less brittle than the harder anthracite coal that it resembles), it is also a very ideal organic gemstone for carving. It should be noted that jet can be imitated by glass and plastic, to recognize a real jet, a hot needle can be applied to the gemstone, a real jet will give off the distinctive smell of burning coal (practical tip to buy a real jet gemstone).
myths and magical properties of jet
From ancient times up until quite recently, jet was believed to contain many powers to protect and heal people. It has been used in various parts of the world in magical ceremonies, and it was believed that future happenings could be foretold in the substance of a burning jet. Because jet is very fragile and is able to be burned, ancient Greeks would use the smoke of burning jet to drive away evil and pestilences. They also thought that the vapours of burning jet could detect virginity. Early Britons used jet to protect themselves from a number of dangers, including thunderstorms and snakebites. Medieval Christians used jet as a talisman against evil, and highly prized an amulet of a heart-shaped piece of jet with a cross carved within it. In this way, jet was considered to hold numerous mystical and medicinal properties.
Jet Gemstone Basic Properties Table
|Deep black, dark brown
|2.5-4 on the Mohs scale
|1.640 to 1.680
|Specific Gravity (SG)
|Velvety to waxy
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