Jet was highly esteemed by the Romans. It was called GAGATES from the Greek GAGATES LITHOS, which is translated as the STONE OF GAGES, an ancient town and river in Lycia (in Asia Minor).

Jet is the brown coal variety known as LIGNITE (Latin for Wood). It forms from fossilized wood therefore it is organic and not a mineral. Instead it is known as a mineraloid.

Jet was formed at the bottom of the sea when woody material like a branch from the Araucaria tree was washed into the body of water, became submerged in sea mud, compacted and heated by geological processes. In other words, Jet is a product of high-pressure decomposition of wood from millions of years ago.

Over time, Jet is transformed into a hard shale known as Jet Rock. Jet is found in two forms, hard and soft. Hard jet is the result of carbon compression and salt water; soft jet is the result of carbon compression and fresh water.

Jet found in the Whitby area of England was deposited in a saltwater swamp about 180 million years ago. This unique geological condition has given the hard jet of Whitby the better working qualities than any other jet that has been found in any other parts of the world. As a result, "Whitby Jet" is now famous throughout the world. Jet has a hardness of 2.5 to 4 on Mohs scale. So, it is quite soft and breaks easily. This is why the hard Whitby Jet is much sought after.

Whitby Jet has been valued as a material for the creation of precious objects since Pre-Historic times. Stone Age carvings, Bronze Age beads, Roman jewellery, early-medieval religious items – its unique allure has continued across the centuries.

Jet has also been found in other countries. The jet in Asturias is the biggest deposit in northern Spain (this jet is about 155 million years old). Jet is also found in Poland and Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain; and near Erzurum in Turkey, where they use jet to make the Roman Catholic Rosary.

Navajo and Pueblo Acoma tribes of New Mexico were mining and using Jet as decoration for their weapons and jewelry for thousands of years. These jet deposits are known as Acoma Jet, from the Acoma Pueblo people of New Mexico. Jet is also found in the Henry Mountains of Utah and the Front Range of El Paso County, Colorado.

Jet can be cut, carved and polished to a bright luster. Its main color is black. It is the material that inspired Shakespeare's "black as jet".

But it also comes in dark brown color, and sometimes with a metallic luster. This metallic luster is due to pyrite inclusions.

Jet is also known as Black Amber because just like amber, it gives an electric charge when rubbed.

As mentioned above, the use of jet jewelry dates back to as early as the Stone Age. One of the few "Venus Figurines" to be made during the Upper Paleolithic era of Magdalenian culture, the Venus of Engen (also called the "Petersfels Venus" or "Frauenidol von Engen") is a tiny prehistoric sculpture carved from black jet.

In the Bronze Age, the 'Queen of the Inch' who lived off the coast of the Isle of Bute, was found to be buried in a cist with her jet necklace and a flint knife. The reconstruction of the queen's head and the necklace, which was found to be made of Whitby jet, are now on show at Bute Museum.

The Ancient Romans adopted and popularized this gem material not only for ornamental use but for its purported magical properties. In England, archeologists found artifacts left by the Romans, such as dagger handles, rings, hair pins, beads, bracelets, bangles, necklaces, pendants, medallions etc that were made from jet.

The Greeks highly esteemed Jet and used it for medicinal purposes. They believed that powdered jet mixed with wine would prevent toothache and when mixed with beeswax, was a remedy for tumors, and when burned as incense could drive away evil spirits.

During the later Victorian Era, jet jewelry became popular after Queen Victoria wore jet that were mined in Whitby as part of her mourning dress after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Jet was chosen most likely for its black somber and modest appearance.

Jet's popularity as a gem declined after the Victorian period. Most likely it is due to its association with mourning. Today most common black gemstones are the Onyx, Obsidian, Schorl or Black Tourmaline and Melanite Garnet which are affordable alternatives to black jet.

Jet was used since ancient times as a magical gem and in magical rituals. It was used as a talisman against curses, envy, and black magic. It was used as a divination tool. Jet was burnt by a hot axe and the smoke that it gave was interpreted accordingly to prophesize future events. This form of future telling is called Axinomancy.

Jet was used to calm outburst of hysteria by inhaling the incense of jet.

Jet was chosen as the stone to be used in Catholic rosaries because it was believed that jet cooled the passions and it was a great protector against temptations.

Jet also protects the wearer from night terrors and from the Night-Mare that comes in our sleep.

Jet absorbs negative energy and is said to get rid of deep sadness. As a very strong energetic filter, it has to be cleansed regularly.

Jet is great for grounding and it gives clarity amidst the chaos. It protects travellers against negative situations. It is a very effective pain reliever especially for menstrual pain and any digestive issues.

Though jet is not in vogue today, it remains popular among gem collectors.