Collectable Beads page 3
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Whitby Jet and Other Black Beads
Whitby is a town in north-east England where Jet was mined and was the centre of a large jewellery industry through the 19th century and into the early 20th century. Highly skilled craftsmen fashioned the Jet into beautiful carved, faceted or polished beads. Intricately carved linkages and chains. Cameo style broaches and pendants. Amazingly fine work considering how brittle it can be to work with.
Victorian Whitby Jet after the era, Queen Victoria's England. After her husband, Prince Albert's death in 1861 led her to a constant state of mourning, dressed in black and adourned in Jet jewellery it became highly fashionable, for all the society ladies. Also known as mourning jewellery.
Prior to the 1830's Jet was worn by wealthy European ladies, out of fashion for a while then highly fashionable through the late 19th century, then out of fashion by 1910-20's, when more colourful jewellery was desired. Highly sought after as antique collectable jewellery from the late 1980's to the present day.
Whitby Jet is an organic mined material unlike French Jet which is glass and made as an imitation. Beautiful pieces were made in French Jet, but it is not the same material and did not require the same amount of skill to fashion into jewellery. Hence the vast price difference for the real thing.