Jet is one of the more unique gemstones to be found in jewelry. Native Americans have adorned their weapons and their jewelry with it for years. Its history is ancient, as artifacts containing jet that are thousands of years old have been unearthed in Germany, England, and France. Vintage pieces of jewelry containing jet are still coveted today by collectors. Its beauty continues to make jet a popular material for jewelry artists.
Though it is considered a gemstone, jet is not a mineral. Deposits of jet formed when wood faced extreme pressure and changed over the course of millions of years. It’s considered a precursor to coal. The resulting hardness or softness depends on whether the jet was formed around salt-water or fresh water.
Jet is lightweight and easy to carve, although it can also be easy to break when carving delicate details. This quality means the carver must exhibit great skill to create intricate designs in the material. Jet’s color is either black or dark brown, although it may contain pyrite fragments which can give it a metallic gleam. The ability to carve it made jet popular for beads, brooches and pendants, which could display the intricate designs.
From its creation through eons of extreme pressure, jet is believed to be a stone of support for those experiencing troubling times. Some feel this gemstone also brings good luck to the wearer, making it a popular gift for those beginning a new venture or setting out on a new path. Jet is also known to create a slight static charge when rubbed as amber does, causing some to call it black amber.
As modern collectors are proving, the beauty of jet remains a draw for those looking for handcrafted jewelry. After spending millions of years forming beneath the ground, jet now adorns those who wear it with a beauty refined by the earth itself. Its endurance as an heirloom will likely keep it a popular choice for years to come.