Jewelry has fascinated humanity for thousands of years. It wasn't always just gold and diamonds that were used, but also materials whose material value was not important, but which did allow for artistic production.
Jet or jet is a form of petrified coal that was once often used for lavish jewelry purposes due to its easy carving, silky shine and, above all, low density.
The ancient Romans already made jewelry, spinning devices and amulets from jet. It has also been attributed a lot of healing properties. For example, it is said to protect against evil eyes and is considered a protective stone against sadness. From the Middle Ages onwards, mourning jewelry was primarily made from it in Europe, which experienced its heyday in the Victorian period.
Mourning jewelry became incredibly popular when, in 1861, after the death of her beloved Prince Albert, Queen Victoria only wore mourning jewelry with associated accessories. At the English court they even forbade the wearing of colored jewelry. The only thing allowed was black jewelry, which at that time was primarily made of jet.
Today we would say that Queen Victoria was an influencer for an entire era. It helped jet jewelry achieve real hype.
In England an entire industry lived from it. The main occurrence of a particularly high-quality jet was on the north coast of England, near the fishing village near Whitby. From there, jewelry made its way to Europe and America until demand for it fell around the turn of the century.
In the 1920s, with Art Deco, the color black came back into fashion. And when Coco Chanel designed the famous “little black dress” in 1926, black was once again the epitome of good taste. This trend also gave jet jewelry a new image.
The use of jet as a gemstone is anything but new. But we like to be inspired by old materials to create something unique and surprising. And perhaps to bring about a new heyday of mystical material.
In my opinion, Jet, Jett or Gagat deserves to have a special place in the world of fashion and jewelry.
Author: Nicole Braun, goldsmith