Example of jet jewelry. Example of jet jewelry.

Jet is a hard, compact black form of lignite (highly compressed, decayed wood), which is normally matt in appearance, but which can take a brilliant polish. The word derives from the Old and Middle English geet, jeet and later jeat. It is comparable to the Old French word geet, and later jaiet or jayet. The modern French work is jais.

Jet is regarded as a minor gemstone and is normally either black or dark brown in appearance. It has been popular for thousands of years for jewellery, especially beads. It became especially popular in the late nineteenth century for mourning jewellery and as decoration on black garments (both mourning and fashionable forms).

The appearance of real jet was often copied with black glass beads, which are often called French jet.


  • RAPP, George R. (2009). Archaeomineralogy, Berlin, Heidelburg: Springer, pp. 118-119.
  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: ‘Jet’.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 8 July 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 20 March 2017 14:17
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