Circa 1850 a fabulous antique carved Whitby Jet gemstone brooch is in the form of a pineapple. Generously sized in an oval shape with a high domed profile it is deeply hand carved in a cross hatched pattern and polished to a glossy sheen. A brass fitting at the back with a sturdy pin stem and c-clasp completes this wonderful example of Victorian Whitby Jet jewellery.
In the 18th century Britain pineapples were grown in greenhouses, very expensive and relatively rare they became a symbol of wealth. Rather than being eaten they were mainly used for display and were used again and again, even being hired out, until they began to rot! Not surprisingly they became a popular jewellery motif and the Whitby jet carvers were quick to pick up on trends. The last 2 photos show the impressive variety and sizes of Jet brooch designs available to the Victorians.
GEMSTONE: Whitby Jet
DIMENSIONS: 1-3/4 x 1-1/4" (4.5x3.5cm), 16mm deep, weight 14.7 grams
DATE: circa 1850, Victorian
CONDITION: this brooch remains in very, very good condition with light wear commensurate with age. There are a couple of tiny nibbles to the edges to the jet that are only visible under close scrutiny, the pin back is in perfect working order.
Not to be confused with French Jet, which is glass, Whitby Jet is a fossilized mineral gemstone millions of years old that is only found in and around the cliffs at Whitby, a seaside hamlet in England and Whitby jet is considered to be the best quality jet found anywhere in the world. It is closely associated with Victorian and Georgian mourning, so strict was etiquette that upon the death of King George VI in 1830 the government issued a decree that proclaimed "the only ornamentation that shall be worn shall be of jet"
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Materials: Whitby Jet, Brass.