Jet is fossilized driftwood and has been mined since prehistoric times. It is black and very glossy in appearance. It was the ideal material for mourning jewelry - in fact, strict Victorian etiquette required that jet was the only stone that could be worn during a mourning period. The greatest amount was produced following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, when women were compelled to wear it during the mourning period. Earlier mourning jewelry was light in appearance and frequently embellished with white enamel, whereas Victorian mourning jewelry was heavy, solem, and gloomy.

Genuine jet is a brown-black lignite in which the texture or grain of the original fossilized wood comprised of coal, can still be seen. The finest genuine jet comes from Whitby, England, where over 200 workshops produced Victorian era jewelry. Jet was, at that time, associated strictly with mourning, although it had been worn in earlier times as decorative jewelry. It is much lighter in weight than glass and warm to the touch.

The Art Deco period featured black and white geometric patterns, making black glass popular again for joyful renditions of Art Deco and Moderne jewelry.

American Indians of the Southwest used genuine American jet in jewelry, which they call "Apache tears." Beads called "black amber" are usually black glass beads.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License