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Whitby Jet Geology

sterling-silver-whitby-jet-heritage-wedding-bands

 

Whitby Jet has been a source of interest to gemologists for a really long time and rightly so. It’s an organic gemstone that is millions and millions of years old. All of our Whitby Jet that is sourced to turn into fine pieces of jewellery is found through natural erosion, which is just incredible. It’s truly amazing how something so unique, rare and beautiful is provided by nature right here on our coastline. 

 

How is Whitby Jet formed? 

 

Every piece of Whitby Jet started its journey as an Araucaria tree, which is now more known as Monkey Puzzle or Chilean Pine. During the Jurassic Era a lot of the trees were washed up into the sea after a natural disaster occurred. Of course, once in the ocean the trees became waterlogged sinking to the seabed. Over time the branches and trunks become buried in layers of organic rich sediment. They are compacted, degraded and heated in isolation. The pressure and lack of oxygen allow for Whitby Jet to naturally form. 

 

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The Finest Whitby Jet

 

Jet discovered in the Whitby region began its life as a Monkey Puzzle tree that fell into a saltwater swamp approximately about 180 million years ago. It then became buried, compressed, geologically heated to temperatures and pressures that reached that of Lignite and nearly to sub-bituminous coal. The results are a hard type of stone that is the finest around with lots of incredible qualities making it pretty famous around the globe. 

There are other stones that go by the same name as Jet however, if not sourced from Whitby they are likely to be much softer and not very easy to work with. Hard Jet has usually been deposited in salt water whereas soft jet is typically formed in freshwater. 

 

Where to Find Whitby Jet?

 

There are specific spots of the 7.5 mile stretch that gem hunters head to in search of the British stone. Whitby, Staithes and Runswick Bay are the favourite spots where specialists head to after a storm. All of the Jet found in Whitby that is not antique is sourced via natural erosion as mining is illegal due to safety and protecting the environment. In the Victorian times mining Whitby Jet was hugely popular to keep up with the demand. However, it was a dangerous job that changed the landscape considerably. 

 

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Whitby Jet Properties 

 

Whitby Jet has many qualities that makes it perfect for making jewellery. It's easy to accurately carve into different shapes due to its soft and uniform texture. Jet is admired for its mirror-like shine. It is not found with a high sheen on the beach but with a polish a beautiful, bright lustre is formed. When left to the experts (like us), the results are stunning! 

The British stone’s weightlessness is another property that makes Jet so highly desirable. Wearing a large piece of Jet or a string of beads is worn with comfort and ease. For perspective Whitby Jet weighs 50% less than other gemstones such as agate or quartz. 

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