Jet Meaning and Properties

Jet History

Jet is a velvety black-colored gemstone that is a type of lignite. This jet black gem was used in Britain as far back as the Neolithic period when it was made into beads for personal adornment. The Romans used jet for rings, hair embellishment, pendants and other forms of jewelry. Popular use of this stone died out until the Victorian era, though it was still occasionally used. Jet was often used in mourning jewelry that was worn in remembrance of a dearly departed family member or friend. Queen Victoria wore a specific, fine-quality jet called Whitby jet as part of her mourning dress after Prince Albert's passing. Whitby jet was also used in a jewelry set for Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday. When the demand for this jet spiked, it resulted in the cliffside of Whitby, England to nearly collapse. Mining for this particular variety of jet became illegal in an attempt to preserve what was left of the cliffs. Today, jet is valued for its beautiful luster, and is seen alongside even the most expensive of gems in jewelry, including diamonds.

Jet Metaphysical Properties

The Romans viewed jet as a magical gemstone that was often used in amulets to protect the wearer. It was believed this black stone could deflect the evil eye. The Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder claimed jet could drive away snakes. Jet is now a birthstone, but it is associated with the astrological sign of Capricorn. Jet affects the root chakra associated with the grounding of oneself. According to metaphysical beliefs, jet can help the wearer to break negative behavioral patterns. Jet has also been used as a stone of good luck and one that brings clarity during trials and tribulations.

Jet Geological Properties

The gemstone known as jet is a mineraloid and type of lignite that takes a beautiful polish. Jet is actually derived from decaying wood that undergoes extreme pressure and heat. The wood then becomes fossilized as a compact black material. Fine-quality jet was mined in Whitby, England though jet has also been found in Spain, France, Russia, Poland, India, Turkey, China, Germany, Cambodia and the United States.

Chemical Composition Variable, but rich in carbon
Color Black or brownish black
Hardness 2-1/2 to 4 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 1.3 - 1.34
Refractive Index 1.66

Proper Care of Jet

Jet is lightweight, making it ideal for adding to jewelry without much weight, but it can be brittle with a Mohs hardness ranging from 2-1/2 to 4. For this reason, jet is best-suited for jewelry designs such as pendants and earrings rather than bracelets where the stone can accidently be subjected to regular impact. Remove jet jewelry before engaging in sports or physical activity that could result in the stones becoming damaged. To clean jet beads or jewelry do not use an ultrasonic machine or steam. Jet can be washed with warm soapy water and a soft brush. A small amount of mineral oil can be used to restore shine.

To learn more about jet and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Jet

Jet is an ideal addition to feminine, masculine and unisex jewelry. Black has been fashion's staple color for a reason. It's smart, sophisticated and goes with literally everything. Alongside red gems such as coral or ruby, jet creates a sultry vibe. Pair jet with silver metal tones and gemstones like marcasite for chic evening jewelry. Black jet can do it all from providing a neutral base to dramatic accents.

View design inspirations featuring jet in the Gallery of Designs.

Shop for Jet Items

**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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