This is a local group of jewellers in Whitby who create the most wonderful rings, necklaces, and brooches using the jet washed up on the local beaches. The jet found at Whitby is of Early Jurassic age, approximately 182 million years old. Whitby Jet is the fossilized wood from species similar to today’s Chile pine or Monkey Puzzle tree.
Whitby jet was a popular material for jewellery in Roman Britain and was used in rings, hair pins, beads, bangles, and pendants, many of which are visible in the Yorkshire Museum. No evidence for Roman jet working has been found in Whitby, but there is such evidence in York. It seems the Romans found the jet on the beaches around Whitby and sent it to York, where it was made into jewellery. Nowadays, members of JoWH are becoming more famous in each passing year.
Emma Sargent of JoWH explains more about Whitby jet: “Whitby jet is justly famous for the glow it gives off when it’s been polished for a few hours by a skilled polisher. You wouldn’t think that something black could glow so much, but it does and that’s part of the charm. I won’t say magic, because black and magic given a wrong connotation. We’ve been accused of worshipping the devil and of trying to create the philosopher’s stone. Our members are always worried about selling jet jewellery to people who’ve come to Whitby because of its association with Dracula. Anyone who mouths spells when handling the jet will be asked to leave our shops straightaway.”
Extract from the book 40 Strange Groups