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Whitby Jet Gemmology

Gemologists can’t get enough of Whitby Jet. Neither can many jewellers especially those living right here in our not so traditional seaside town. We’re one of them. We love how the intense black stone is found on our shoreline and has a fascinating story to tell. It’s millions and millions of years old but has never looked so good once we’ve finished cutting, carving and polishing the beautiful gem in to an impressive collection of Whitby Jet designs. 






As we mentioned, the formation of Whitby Jet takes millions and millions of years. The gemstone actually starts its life as an Araucaria tree - you may be more familiar with the name Monkey Puzzle or Chilean Pine, which is more used today. After a series of natural disastrous a lot of Araucaria trees were swept in to the ocean during the Jurassic era. Trunks and branches of the trees became waterlogged falling to the seabed. Over time the wood of the trees became buried under layers and layers of sedimentary mud, which created an anaerobic seal preventing normal decomposition to take place. Each piece of wood soaked in the hydrocarbon oils caused chemical changes in the plant cells. This also stopped silicification where organic matter is replaced with silica. The lack of oxygen and immense pressure over many, many years allowed for Whitby Jet to form. 






We’re very proud that Whitby is home to a such an exquisite gemstone. Jet is found on the North Yorkshire coastline particularly after a violent storm. Popular spots include Whitby, Staithes and Runswick Bay. Experienced gem hunters know exactly what they are doing heading to the beaches to find pieces of Whitby Jet that have eroded naturally. Anyone can hunt for Jet yet do be aware of the lookalikes on the shoreline such as coal, charcoal (left behind after a BBQ) or even plastic. 

Back in the Victorian era, Whitby Jet was exhaustively mined to keep up with the demand during this time. However, it was a very risky job with many putting their lives on the line and was eventually made illegal. Nowadays all of Whitby Jet is sourced via natural erosion.  






There are three main qualities of Whitby Jet that makes the gem stand out amongst its rivals. 

Colour: The popular phrase ‘Jet Black’ gets its name from the colour of our British stone. Its opaque, deep black shade is so unique. It’s what makes the gem so desirable as there’s not many gems that share its intensity. 

Lustre: When polished in our workshop, Whitby Jet’s mirror-like shine is so impressive! Its high sheen is actually impossible to miss as it is so distinctive and beautiful to wear. The gem’s appearance is completely different when found raw on the beach. The transformation is incredible. 

Weight: Whitby Jet certainly doesn’t weigh you down. It’s very lightweight in comparison to other gemstones, which makes Whitby Jet jewellery very comfortable to wear. Large or beaded pieces can be worn with ease. 


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