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Whitby Jet Jewellery

The Black as Jet site contains an online store where you can browse and buy Whitby Jet and Baltic Amber Jewellery. The shop also contains a section of eclectic items that we find interesting. We hope you do too.

You will also find information about the history of Jet and Amber jewellery, as well as help in identifying the real thing from the many imitators.

Victoria Whitby Jet Brooch

The carved Whitby Jet brooch below demonstrates the skill of the Victorian Whitby Jet workers. It is a classic item of mourning jewellery from around 1850. The large brooch is an expensive commissioned item and would have been produced by one of the master carvers.
Victoria Brooch During the reign of Queen Victoria protocol dictated that only Jet jewellery could be worn at court during periods of official mourning. This royal endorsement confirmed the status of Jet as the material of choice for mourning jewellery and fuelled the expansion of the Jet industry in the late 1800's. Never was this more so than in the period following the death of Victoria's husband Prince Albert from typhoid fever in December 1861.
Whitby Jet Carved Letters
The intertwined gothic letters are notoriously difficult to decipher but careful observation can identify the individual letters V I C T O R I A. The workmanship is exquisite and a testament to the skilled craftsmen who toiled in the small, dust ridden Victorian workshops in the northeast fishing port of Whitby. Unfortunately this item is now sold!
Victorian Whitby Jet St Cecilia Cameo Bracelet

Victorian Whitby Jet St Cecilia Cameo Bracelet

At last divine Cecilia came,
Inventress of the vocal frame;
The sweet enthusiast, from the sacred store,
Enlarged the former narrow bounds,
And added length to solemn sounds,
With nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before.
Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
Or both divide the crown:
He raised a mortal to the skies;
She drew an angel down.

John Dryden (1631-1700)
The stunning bracelet shown above is one of the many unique pieces we have acquired over the years and is part of our private collection. Unfortunately this particular item is not for sale.

The Gift of the Locket

From time to time we acquire unique memories in the form of mourning jewellery containing photographs or locks of hair. Sometimes the people who buy the items want to use them for their own precious memories and in these cases we are happy to remove and store the contents and will guarantee that the memories are never destroyed.
The Gift of the Locket
A Guard Against All Evils

A Guard Against All Evils

The cross as familiar symbol of religious faith and a recurring design in Jet jewellery, particularly when linked with the anchor and heart in the trinity of Faith, Hope and Charity.

But when Hugh P. Kendall, former Honorary Curator of the Whitby Museum, recorded the recollections of Jet worker Matthew Snowdon, he reported that Jet crosses were also used as charms against witchcraft.

An even earlier reference from the "Lapidarium of Marbodus" (Antique Gems, their Origin, uses and Value, by Rev. C. W. King) lists a long list of curative properties for Jet, as well as the claim that it "chases far away the powers of Hell".
So Whitby Jet can truly claim to be the original 'Black Magic'.

The Symbolism of Design

The delicate brooch featured to the right is a typical piece of Victorian sentimental mourning jewellery. At first glance this pretty silver brooch appears to display two scenes from any country garden. On the left there is a single-stem rose, above which there is a butterfly, and on the right a single swallow in flight. But there is symbolism in the images and a story to be told...
The Symbolism of Design
The butterfly is a symbol of the spirit or soul and is occasionally found on Victorian grave stones. It also depicts the three stages of existence and the transformation of the soul: Caterpillar (Life); Chrysalis (Death); Butterfly (Resurrection).

Today we tend to associate the rose with love but white roses are traditionally associated with death and depict the next world. Another factor to be taken into account in this particular scene is the shape of the flower. The single closed rosebud engraved carefully onto the front of this brooch is a symbol of beauty, youth and a heart innocent of love. In other words a child.

The swallow, or indeed most birds in flight, usually symbolise the winged soul. However here the meaning is slightly different as the swallow is also a depiction of a child or, as in this case, motherhood.

The story so far... The left-hand panel depicts the death of a much loved child (the rose). The passing is mourned by a grieving mother (the swallow), who looks on from the right-hand panel and puts trust in her Christian faith for the resurrection of her child's soul on the wings of a butterfly.

Eclectic Collection

The shop also contains a number of other interesting finds and items. These range from vintage items in Gold and Silver as well as specially commissioned items using archaeological finds.
Eclectic Collection

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Black as Jet is a trading name of Talent Consulting Limited
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Registered Office: 50 Robinhood Lane, Winnersh, Wokingham, RG41 5NQ