Jet is one of the oldest minerals on the planet and is estimated to be between 208 and 144 million years old. It resembles amber in many regards but comes primarily from sedimentary rock on which there are remains of fossilised plants. Many civilisations have made great use of Jet throughout the centuries. As early as the 2nd millennium BC, it was popular in England, where the world’s largest deposits are found. Romans soon brought it to Rome, where it was very popular in jewellery making. With the Middle Ages and the development of monotheistic religions, Jet stone was used in different ways and began to be incorporated into religious jewels and statuettes. Its symbolism is the same on the other side of the Atlantic: excavations have revealed the existence of protective jet amulets among Indians.
The hour of glory for this stone was in Europe in the nineteenth century. At that time, the English had a production centre in Yorkshire and exported their rocks all over the globe as they were considered to be the most beautiful in the world. Other deposits were sold for world production: in Asturias, Spain, southern France, Russia, China and California. The unique fragility of the mineral makes it a particularly difficult product to industrialise and to produce quality jewellery and figurines with. Indeed, tailors, sculptors and jewellers have came up with professional techniques in order to work the material. Many of these artisans gather in Compostela to sell religious accessories, crucifixes or medals. More generally, jet stone was used for funeral jewellery and in France, it was the only mineral that could be worn after a death in the 19th century.
Precious ore flourished throughout the Victorian period until the early 20th century: in Indochina, there were 6.2 million tonnes in 1895 alone. Interest waned after the First World War and tailors and small businesses closed one after the other. The last ones disappeared in the 1950s. Today, this unique gem is experiencing a revival of interest and some goldsmiths have rediscovered centuries-old know-how to offer quality jewels or religious effigies worthy of the Victorian era. The forms remain traditional: shells, statuettes of St. James, pendants, clams, rosaries and prayer beads.
The very unique metal lustre of lignite has led civilisations to attribute it magical functions. Wearing it is recommended for both afflictions and warding off bad omens. Its color associates it with the Earth element and it has the power to electrify when rubbed. In prehistoric tombs, it is believed that the mineral was used to guard the bones of the dead and defend them. In Ancient Greece, this jewel was worn to attract the favour of the goddess Cybele, responsible for growth and of plants. This belief was particularly followed by gardeners over the centuries.
In Middle Ages England, it was used by fishermen’s wives as a magical protector to be burned in the fireplace. The purpose of this gesture was to protect their absent husbands from the wrath of the ocean. More generally at this time, jewellery of this type was used as protective amulets or mourning jewellery. If used for this purpose, gems are deemed to absorb a part of the wearer’s soul.
Their use was sparse as it was thought that if they fell into the wrong hands, it would be possible to manipulate the owner of the jewellery. They are also thought to contain negative memories that are not always worth remembering. Its darker aspect concerns those interested in witchcraft and sacrifices. At Stonehenge, knives used in ritual sacrifices were cut from jet of a black metallic lustre.
The name of jet comes from the Latin gagâtes (the stone of Gagates) a city in Lycia, a historical region located in present-day Turkey. There, a black rock resembling bitumen was found. The term gagates, described by Roman Pliny the Elder, was termed ‘iaiet’ and ‘jayet’ in Old French, and later it took the name we know of today. The term jayet is also used in French-speaking Switzerland. Gagat remained the same in German, but in English the word Jet is preferred, having once referred to the ore as ‘geate,’ ‘geat’ and ‘jeat.’ Until a hundred years ago, jet stone was sometimes known as black amber, as it is also found in amber deposits and often has equivalent electrical faculties. The mineral comes from plant debris transformed into coal in a muddy environment, followed by compaction. It is found in bitumen-like shales that appear in relatively small slabs (around 2 to 15 cm thick). The formation of the mineral is due to the action of ocean pressure on the rock, itself composed of fossilised plant remains.
It is an amorphous material with a refractive index of around 1.66. Its density is around 1.3 (compared to water), and its lustre ranges from waxy to glassy.
When burned with a heated needle, it has the peculiarity of releasing a strong coal smell. To distinguish it from imitations, it is advisable to draw a line with it which should be brown. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the crafting of this stone was very popular in some European regions, such as in the pays d’Olmes in the French county Ariège, where there are several hydraulically powered ‘jayet mills’.
Historically, jet stone is considered the mourning stone, whether used as a necklace or bracelet. It is known to help with the grief of death and loneliness. It can help one to overcome depression and navigate through positive changes. Physical awareness can also be strengthened against evil eye. More generally and less pragmatically, jet is a stone that wards off evil spirits and negative energies. It protects against curses and can be a powerful defence in case of evil or unknown entities. Jet stone can be worn as a chain bracelet or necklace by the dying to help them to pass to the other side. Glass-like jet stone is also sold and used as a tool for communication with the afterlife by those with psychic gifts. Be careful, however, as it should be used with caution and for no longer than fifteen minutes, otherwise one may attract evil eye.
For a protective ritual, this lignite can be placed between two white candles or worn as a bracelet: it absorbs negative energies and can serve as a protector of your home when placed in the heart of the dwelling. The unique mineral can also be used for mental and physical health. Placed momentarily on an infant’s stomach, for example, it can permanently protect it from any negative effects. It is also used to ward off bad dreams and ensure a restful night’s sleep: in this case, a piece must be placed under the pillow or hung with string or piece of metal above the bed or attached to the headboard. To prevent hazards during a trip, one can also wear a natural ore amulet.
One may also use this mineral for its psychic advantages. To do this, place small pieces of jet in a bottle filled with water and leave it under the sun for several hours until the water becomes warmer. You can filter and drink this liquid before you try to get in touch with your psyche. Small quantities reduced to powder can also be added to incense used for the psyche or it can itself be used on burning coal. In this case, the smoke serves as a support for clairvoyance. To accompany a dying person on their journey, the ore can also be used in combination with azurite, lapis lazuli or deep blue sapphire. However, it would be a wise idea to carry a large black tourmaline crystal (schorl) or obsidian on your person or at the soles of your feet to return without difficulty from this accompanying journey.
Jet soothes dental pain, stomach acidity, stomach pain and headaches. It also has preventive abilities against epilepsy (if worn before seizures) This unique ore also has the ability to soothe inflammations, especially pulmonary ones. It also relieves excessive dental pain and headaches.
Placed on the solar plexus with a lattice pendant, it soothes gastric acidity and promotes the regulation of the entire digestive system, particularly the intestines. When worn as a chain bracelet, black metal-coloured jet prevents disease by maintaining the proper flow of energy in the body.