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How to Tell the Difference Between French Jet and Whitby Jet

Jewellery & Watch News



You wouldn’t be the first to mistake Whitby Jet for its glass imposter. On first glance they look exactly alike. Both impress with their unique deep black colour that looks striking fastened around the neck or wrist. French Jet charms its way into thinking it’s authentic Whitby Jet found on the North Yorkshire coastline however, in reality it is simply black glass. 

Both became very popular during the Victorian period but for different reasons. Queen Victoria famously began wearing Whitby Jet when mourning Prince Albert making it the most fashionable gemstone at the time. Due to the demand, Whitby Jet became more difficult to source, which led to a dramatic rise in price. Black glass was a cheaper alternative to the real deal making many question between the two lookalikes. No one is entirely sure  how the name French Jet came about as it was made in countries like Austria and Czechoslovakia before being delivered across Yorkshire. Things would be much easier without the name, that’s for sure, it does get quite confusing.  




Whitby Jet VS French Jet


Imitation is the biggest form of flattery after all so we don’t take it personally with all the lookalikes in the industry. Luckily, there are a few distinct ways to identify genuine Whitby Jet. Here are six tips to distinguish between the two, we’ll keep it simple so that you have a handy guide to follow. 

  • Whitby Jet is warm to touch however, its copycat feels cold when held. Your cheek or wrist are a good place to carry out this test. 
  • When scratched on paper or unglazed porcelain - the back of a tile will do just fine - Whitby Jet makes a brown mark whereas the glass leaves no colour trace, maybe just a scratch in the ceramic!
  • You may be surprised to learn that Whitby Jet is lightweight to wear whereas its imitator is much heavier. 
  • Typically, faceted Whitby Jet beads are quite large as the stone is softer than glass and cannot be moulded in the same way. Watch out for moulding marks - a clear indicator that the piece is in fact French Jet. 
  • This tip must be carried out by a professional and you must be 100% sure that you wish to go ahead as it will cause damage even if it is very tiny. Use a red hot sewing needle to pierce the Jet (in an unnoticeable place - inside of a bead for example) and if you smell burning coal it is authentic Jet. Many disagree with this method due to the damage caused. 
  • Finally, seek out a reputable retailer that you trust so that you will be certain that the piece of jewellery that you are buying is the real deal. It goes without saying that every design that we sell is genuine Whitby Jet! 


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