Whitby Jet is a natural organic gemstone formed from the compressed wood of the prehistoric Monkey Puzzle or Araucaria tree, found along a two mile stretch of coastline between Robin Hood's Bay and Boulby, nearby to Whitby, North Yorkshire. Recognized as one of the UK's most popular tourist destinations, Whitby is a picturesque seaside town, filled with history and character, world famous for its Whitby Jet gemstone formed over 186 million of years ago.
In its natural state Whitby Jet may be embedded with prehistoric fossils and crustaceans, which have long been extinct. Lightweight and warm to the touch, once cut, shaped and polished, Whitby Jet is transformed into the most beautiful deep black and mysterious of gemstones, considered by some to have magical properties and provide protection against evil.
186 MILLION YEARS IN THE MAKING
Different to many other gemstones, Whitby Jet is formed organically from a fossilized wood, similar to our present day Monkey Puzzle or Araucaria Tree, under extreme pressure and compressed over millions of years.
The colour of Whitby Jet is unique. Its blackness is so intense that the expression ‘Jet Black' has been a commonly used phrase for hundreds of years. Whitby Jet is different to other forms of Jet found around the world due to its unique hardness and density, which takes an extremely high polish, giving a high lustre finish with a mirror like reflection. Warm, smooth and very lightweight to touch, give Whitby Jet the characteristics that enable even the most lavish designs to be worn in comfort.
WHERE IS WHITBY JET FOUND?
Whitby Jet can be found embedded within seams of shale along the cliffs of a two mile stretch of coastline between Robin Hood's Bay and Boulby, nearby to Whitby, North Yorkshire, England. On rare occasions Whitby Jet can be found washed up on the beaches following heavy storms and rough seas along the eroding coastline.
Most frequently Whitby Jet can be seen running through a distinctive shale line or 'Jet line' which appears above sea level and extends out under the seabed. Pieces can often break away in bad weather to be washed up on to the shore.
It has never been permitted to mine for the rare gemstone material, though it was common practice throughout the Victorian era, with Jet workers digging deep into the cliff faces to extract raw material. Once the section of cliff had been exhausted of the gemstone, the Jet workers would ensure their excavations were re-filled. In higher and more inaccessible areas of the cliff face, young men were often lowered on ropes to carry out this work, a task made all the more dangerous by the fact that the cliffs are mostly shale and therefore very unstable.
It is widely known that the finest quality Jet has always come from the north east coast of Yorkshire of England, which is where we source all of our gemstone material. Jet can be found in many countries worldwide, including China, Siberia and the USA, to name but a few, with deposits which have also been found in other European countries including Germany and Spain.
A GEMSTONE FAMED BY ROYALTY
With new rail links to Whitby, the town became a very popular seaside holiday destination for early Victorians for whom a souvenir piece of Jet was a must. As the century progressed, fashions changed and clothing became heavier and more voluminous, particularly with the crinolines of the time, these fuller costume designs allowed for larger and more eye catching jewellery designs to be worn.
The softness of the Whitby Jet made the stone perfect for carving which along with its unique lightweight characteristics could be transformed into lavish jewellery designs, making Whitby Jet Jewellery the perfect choice to be worn as large items of Jewellery or accessories, allowing for even the largest pieces of Whitby Jet Jewellery to be worn in comfort.
In 1851, Whitby Jet was exhibited at the Great Exhibition, London and soon became coveted by a number of high profile royal persons including the Queen of Bavaria and the Empress of France. Queen Victoria was to become Whitby Jet's most prolific patron, when her beloved Prince Albert died in 1861. Victoria took to wearing Jet jewellery in remembrance of him, and it soon became the etiquette to accessorise the period's elegant mourning fashion with jewellery made from the Whitby Jet gemstone. So much so, that the only jewellery allowed to be worn in court during the period was Whitby Jet.
The Jet workers and mining industry grew quickly through the second half of the 20th century becoming the main industry for the town, with over 1000 Jet workers employed within the town at its height in 1871.
It was during this time that James Storr established the towns very first specialist Whitby Jet store. W Hamond Jewellers, opened its doors for the first time in 1860, quickly becoming famous and widely recognised by the many fashionable ladies and gentlemen of the period across the country.
THE WORLD'S LARGEST PIECE OF WHITBY JET
W Hamond is home to the worlds largest single piece of Whitby Jet ever discovered. W Hamond Jewellers is the Original Whitby Jet Store, Established in 1860, located within an iconic and historic building at the bottom of the Abbey steps in Whitby's town centre. The store showcases a stunning range of Antique Whitby Jet Jewellery, rare and collectable items of jewellery, with each piece having its own unique and fascinating story.
With an unrivalled 150 year history working with Whitby Jet jewellery, W Hamond is famed for producing delicate, fine and beautifully hand crafted Whitby Jet jewellery creations displayed throughout the store. W Hamond is also the proud owner of the world’s largest Whitby Jet gemstone, the surface of the stone embedded with fossilised crustaceans.
W Hamond’s record breaking Whitby Jet gemstone is a staggering 21ft in length, part of gemstone can be seen pictured above held carefully by the W Hamond Victorian Jet workers, in what is a truly spectacular piece of natural gemstone material.
180 million years in the making, this extraordinary and truly unique example of Whitby Jet can be seen in the W Hamond’s Whitby boutique, viewing this museum piece is highly recommended as part of any visit to the town.
WHITBY JET JEWELLERY
Discover our timeless collections of handmade Whitby Jet Jewellery. Exquisite jewellery designs incorporating the finest quality English Jet, considered as one of the world's rarest and most treasured gemstones with its unique, intense black, high polished finish.
Explore our fine British craftsmanship jewellery manufactured in our workshop based in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. We pride ourselves on delivering the absolute best in terms of customer service. Whether you are visiting one of our retail boutiques or shopping online we are always here to help with our dedicated team of highly knowledgeable and passionate jewellery specialists.
Recognised for our award winning British gemstone collections of Whitby Jet Jewellery, each piece of Whitby Jet jewellery has been expertly designed and handmade within our very own workshops. We hand select each gemstone to be carefully crafted and transformed into stunning pieces of Sterling Silver, Yellow Gold, White Gold, and Rose Gold Whitby Jet Jewellery, precision cut, and polished to perfection.
We offer a stunning selection of Whitby Jet jewellery, including rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets finished to the highest standard and suitable for all occasions. Shop the very latest collections of Vintage Jet Jewellery, Whitby Jet and Marcasite Jewellery along with our beautiful handmade Whitby Jet and Diamond Jewellery.
Contact us today to book an appointment in store, or speak with our online concierge team about producing bespoke or custom made items of jewellery.
Shop our award winning and exclusive collections of Whitby Jet Jewellery. Discover our wide range of Whitby Jet Rings, Whitby Jet Earrings, Whitby Jet Necklaces and Whitby Jet Bracelets, available to buy online and throughout our stores with free UK delivery on all orders.