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  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1875 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved jet

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs C. Ball

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 81, shelf D8, box 4 []

Jet is the fossilised remains of driftwood. In Britain, the main source is Whitby, in Yorkshire. It became particularly popular in mourning jewellery in the mid 19th century. The first industrial jet workshops in Whitby, using lathes to carve the jet, were set up in 1808. By 1872, the industry employed up to 1500 men, women and children.

The custom of wearing mourning dress was encouraged by Queen Victoria’s prolonged mourning after the death of her husband Albert in 1861. Formal mourning required black crepe or bombazine clothes along with ‘a few trinkets to accentuate the general sombreness of the costume’. Jet jewellery could be highly fashionable and followed the styles of the day. As jet is light, substantial pieces of jewellery could be worn without discomfort. Its hard, dense nature made it easy to carve and it could be left matt or polished to a high shine.

Physical description

Jet necklace with pendant.

Place of Origin

England (probably, made)


ca. 1875 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved jet


Height: 11 cm, Length: 39.5 cm, Depth: 2.1 cm

Historical context note

The increasing rigidity of mourning conventions during the reign of Queen Victoria gave great encouragement to the manufacture of black jewellery. Expensive work in black-enamelled gold was made by hand. Jet was much in demand, and the workshops in Whitby, Yorkshire, near the main source of the material, produced articles which often comprised hand-carved details applied to mass-produced bodies turned on lathes. Mass production methods, and the use of substitute materials, brought mourning jewellery within reach of all but the poorest. Although pieces were often made from cast black glass, or 'French jet', mounted on metal, or from vulcanite, this piece is of jet.

Descriptive line

Carved jet necklace with pendant. England, about 1875.





Subjects depicted



Jewellery; Metalwork; Death; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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