Not to be confused with French Jet, which is glass this striking antique mourning brooch is made from Whitby Jet, a fossilized mineral gemstone millions of years old that is only found in and around the cliffs at Whitby, a seaside hamlet in England.
Dating to around 1870, the brooch is generously sized in an oval shape with a gently pillowed profile. The jet is beautifully carved in a stylized snake form with lots of very attractive detailing. Holes incorporated into design go all the way through to the back and there is a peephole in the centre. The central snakeskin is punched out in a circle and dot pattern. To the Victorians the snake symbolised everlasting love and eternity, for this reason you often find snake motifs in Victorian mourning and love token jewellery. The last photo shows 4 antique Whitby jet brooches (including this one) so you can see the interesting variety of brooch designs and sizes available at the time.
Master carved by hand, we absolutely love this incredibly intricate design, it leaves no room for error or the precious jet would have been wasted. The brooch has silver fittings which is unusual, typically these jet brooches were fitted with brass findings so this lifts this stately brooch out of the ordinary too.
This brooch would have been an expensive purchase when new and it is a testament to the skill of the old jet carvers of Whitby. Good jet jewellery has always been held in high regard and it is highly collectable too! Queen Victoria wore Whitby jet jewellery almost exclusively whilst in deep mourning for her beloved Prince Albert.
MATERIALS: sterling silver
GEMSTONE: Whitby jet
MEASUREMENTS: 2" (5cm) wide, 1-1/2" (4cm) tall
WEIGHT: 10.7 grams
DATE: circa 1870, Victorian
CONDITION: in excellent antique condition with no chips or cracks in the jet and the pin back in perfect order. There are the usual tooling marks on the back that you would expect to see in a hand wrought piece of genuine Whitby jet jewellery.
At Mercy Madge we offer a carefully curated collection of antique and vintage jewellery. Each piece is hand selected with you in mind and we rarely come across two identical old treasures, once they are gone, they are truly gone!
- FREE DELIVERY on all orders worldwide. All orders are despatched next business day and sent with full tracking.
- RETURNS, you can return your item for a refund for any reason. Just get in touch within 3 days of receiving your order if you wish to do so.
- Our photographs are taken in extreme close-up to show you every tiny detail. Any blemishes are greatly magnified and typically they aren’t noticeable to the naked eye. Reflections caused by our bright lighting can cast to dark spots and discoloured areas that don't exist in real life.
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Materials: Whitby Jet, Sterling Silver.