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Victorian Grandness: Whitby Jet Necklace

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It was in the Victorian era that Whitby jet (fossilized monkey tree wood) reached its paragon as an element of jewelry. Bold, dramatic and most certainly sophisticated, this very large Whitby jet antique necklace would hold court in any number of venues. Almost double-tiered, scalloped edged medallions of jet have been ornamented with characteristic Victorian stars and with additional etched patterns on the front surfaces.

The top tier has jet plaques in graduated sizes. Five oval medallions are suspended from this strand of jet. Openwork on the plaques emphasizes texture and creates visual interest. The original black lacquered metal fittings complete the look. Secure closure is insured via a spring hook and eye clasp. Although grand in scale, this beautiful antique Victorian necklace is light in weight.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Condition: Excellent; a few tiny chips and light wear mostly on oval connector links on the reverse.

Measurements: 17-3/4 inches (45.1 cm) in total length. Has a weight of 38.8 grams. Largest oval is more than 1-1/2 inches (3.9 cm) by 1-1/4 inches (3.2 cm).

Date & Origin: Circa 1860 – 1870; English in origin.

Historical Notes: Jet is a semi-precious mineral that when polished develops such a luster that it was used as a mirror. The deep intense black color never fades--black as black can be or as Shakespeare said “as black as Jet”. Beads of jet dating from 10,000 years ago have been uncovered in Bronze Age burial sites. The Romans had a great penchant for this mineral and used it extensively for adornment of all sorts as well as attributing any number of medicinal properties to it. During the medieval period jet was used predominantly for ecclesiastical objects.

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