Whitby Jet has been around for a long, long time! It’s million and millions of years old dating back to the Jurassic era. The British gemstone has a rich, vivid history that we honour in everything that we do creating designs that are nostalgic for its heritage yet appeals to a modern audience.
Archaeologists have found evidence of Jet being mined and used since the Bronze age. The Romans, Saxons and Vikings all were fans of our favourite black gemstone. Artefacts have been discovered that date back to these periods however, it was the Victorian era when the famous gem had its moment in history.
The Origins of Whitby Jet
Whitby Jet’s origins begins in the Jurassic Era when a catastrophic storm swept a huge amount of Araucaria trees into the ocean. The trees became waterlogged, fell to the seabed and were then stuck in the sedimentary mud. Over time the trees were covered under many layers of mud, which caused a huge amount of pressure and little oxygen. As a result, the finest Whitby Jet was formed washing up on our shores.
The Victorian Era
Whitby Jet had the royal approval! Queen Victoria exclusively wore Whitby Jet after her beloved Prince Albert died causing the popularity of the black gem to soar. Coinciding with the invention of the train and the love of seaside holidays in the Victorian era, many flocked to the coastal town in search of the latest fashion trend.
The rise in demand saw the town spring into action, with at one point over 200 workshops in our small, charming town. In the 1800s, it was legal to mine Whitby Jet, which was a difficult and dangerous task with many knowing the risks involved. Relying solely on the Top Jet Dogger, which is a limestone strata that is harder than Jet, the mine was not well supported. Today, all Jet is ethically sourced, only using fragments found on our coastline.
The Victorian period was not one to put health and safety first. The dangerous, dust-filled workshops worked extremely hard to keep up with the increase in popularity creating beautiful, intricate detailing by hand. It was no easy task yet a lot of people travelled far to buy a piece of exquisite Whitby Jet jewellery.
It was during this time that imitations were disguised as the real deal to keep up with the demand. Foreign jet was imported, which did cause some doubts around the authenticity of what was being sold in Whitby at the time. Sellers started to label the genuine pieces to quieten the concerns, which did help a lot.
Our Antique Whitby Jet Collection
Travel back in time to Whitby Jet’s heyday with our carefully curated antique jewellery. It’s possible to admire the intricate detailing and impressive craftsmanship of the 19th century with our unique collection of Victorian brooches, earrings, pendants and bracelets. Designed to be passed down though generations, Jet is made to last especially when handled with care.
Each nostalgic piece is carefully restored by our skilled team to showcase the town’s artisan’s work. Committed to the intricate details, every design looks just as stunning as the day it was made. Having a piece of Victorian Jet on our bench allows for us to take a glimpse into the past and truly embrace it. Sitting alongside our modern Whitby Jet designs its amazing to see the journey of the much-loved gem.