Rare Find for Today’s Market, Circa 1845, JET Mourning Bracelet with Elastic Strung Band and Pinchbeck Front:

Antique natural Jet Mourning Bracelet
victorian Jet Mourning Bracelet

The Pre-Civil War Era Jet bracelet was made in 1840 to 1850 was hand carved of Whitby Jet and the Jet was hand polished. The band was originally strung with elastic and has been restrung. The front of the bracelet has a geometric design held by two pins and two moving rings are held inside the pins. The center face of the bracelet has motion; a cleaver design. The setting of the front design is made of Pinchbeck! This is a substitute for Gold discovered in 1720 by Christopher Pinchbeck who was a watch case maker. Pinchbeck was not made after 1855 (More details below). This bracelet has two elements of scarce materials making it highly collectible.

About Mourning Jewelry:
Mourning jewelry mirrored the lives and times of the people who wore it. It
was a souvenir to remember a loved one, a reminder to the living of the
inevitability of death, and a status symbol, especially during the Victorian
The term "jet" in the expression "jet black" refers to a gemstone material that was very popular in the nineteenth century, but hardly known today. Jet is an organic material composed of fossilized wood. A form of bituminous coal, jet can be polished to produce a waxy, velvety luster.

The earliest examples of mourning jewelry were found in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Black and white enameled heads or skulls were often set
into rings and brooches. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was a status
symbol to present mourning rings to friends and families of the bereaved.
Jet has been used for mourning for thousands of years. Highly suitable for
carving, examples have been found in prehistoric caves. The use of jet was
known to the Greeks as far back as 200 B. C. The Venerable Bede (673-735 A.
D.) wrote of jet, "Britain has much excellent jet which is black and
sparkling, glittering at the fire and when heated drives away serpents". An
early superstition was that its shiny surface was brilliant enough to deflect
the evil eye away from the person wearing it.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, jet took a Christian significance. From
the 14th-20th centuries, jet carvings were sold to pilgrims at holy sites in
Spain. It is not surprising that it became one of the most common substances
used in mourning jewelry.
The finest jet, however, was mined in Whitby, Yorkshire, England. Mining
started in the early 19th century, and by 1850 there were fifty jet workshops
in Whitby. Jewelers found jet to be lightweight and well suited to carving.
It was the perfect material for making large lockets, brooches, bracelets and
necklaces. After Albert's death, Queen Victoria decreed that only jet jewelry
was to be worn at court for the first year of mourning. By 1873 two hundred
jet shops sprung up in Whitby.

Today it is illegal to mine jet in Whitby because the only jet left is in
seams in the walls of the cliffs over the town. To remove it from the cliffs
would cause them to tumble down and destroy the town. The two remaining jet
cutters today have to rely on pieces that wash up on the beaches of this
seacoast town. Because of its scarcity, jet jewelry is very precious, and
early examples are avidly collected.
The face of the bracelet is set in Pinchbeck which is also an obsolete metal material.
The lovely Bracelet is 1 ½ inches tall at the front circle area the links are 15/16 of an inch tall and ½ inch wide. There are 13 links in all around the band. The size of the band is adjustable because it is elastic but without stretching it measures 6 ½ in the inside band.
The bracelet is in excellent condition, one small chip on a link but hard to notice, but other than that it is terrific. The current insured value would be $3500.00 at the low end as of February 2012.

Price: $895.00