Jet has its beginnings in the Jurassic period, and is the fossilized wood of pine forests that died out about 175 million years ago. It is an organic gem, like pearls or amber, and is black, lightweight, and easily carved into sculptural pieces. Jet has been mined and used as jewelry in the British Isles since the earliest of times.
The material was especially popular during the Victorian era, and was an integral part of the costume and pomp of nineteenth-century ladies’ mourning attire.
We had some Victorian jet beads hiding in the Gray & Davis safe, so we decided to add some simple 14 karat gold hooks and turn them into earrings.
At it turns out, there is a very similar pair in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which dates c. 1880: