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The Difference Between Whitby Jet and Onyx

Jewellery & Watch News



We did say that Whitby Jet has many lookalikes (coal being one of them) in the jewellery industry making it confusing for amateurs to label each stone. There are quite a few black stones that are precision cut to make stunning pieces of jewellery and identifying the names is quite tricky for the untrained eye. As experts in our favourite local gemstone, we can easily pick out Whitby Jet amongst its lookalikes. Here’s a few tips to get you started but if in doubt always check with a professional first. 


What Is Onyx? 


For those who have not heard of Onyx, it is made from calcite in caves. Naturally sourced worldwide, it is formed when water drips and then evaporates from the ends of stalagmites and stalacites leaving behind calcium carbonate and minerals, which is to blame for the beautiful bands of colours. Jet is formed in a very different way - more on that here. 


Four Differences


Test 1: They’re total opposites! One of the most loved traits of Whitby Jet is its weightlessness. It’s super comfy to wear, even the oversized large designs. However, onyx is pretty heavy in comparison and therefore, if the stone or piece of jewellery you are holding is weighty it is Onyx rather than Jet. 


Test 2: Interestingly, Onyx is dyed black as it is usually found in white, red or brown shades. Therefore, some pieces have streaks, swirls or layers of grey and white, which immediately is a sign that the stone is not Whitby Jet. 


Test 3: Another unique quality of Jet is it’s warmth when worn or held. It is usually at room temperature making the stone a favourite to wear. Onyx is cold to the touch making it easy for people to distinguish between the two. 


Test 4: A particularly tricky one is the glossy finish that both stones have when polished. Each are quite dull when found however, when leaving the workshop the similarity makes it sometimes difficult to tell the difference. Therefore, do not be tricked by the high sheen alone refer back to the tips above to be completely certain. 


You’ll never mistake Onyx for Jet again with our simple four tips. As always our talented gemstone specialists are here to help if you still feel unsure. 


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