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Benares House Gallery
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Title: Earrings
Identifier: 979.6.1174
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1851-1887
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A pair of jet drop style earrings. The jet is carved into four tiers with the tiers increasing in size from top to bottom to create a tear drop like shape. Each tier is carved with a unique abstract pattern. At the top of the jet is a metal (gold?) cone with a ring at the tip. There is no hook or clasp to attach to the ear.

Jet is a carbonized black coal like substance formed by heat, pressure, and a chemical reaction on ancient driftwood. It has been used since the Bronze Age although its popularity skyrocketed in the 19th century when a small Yorkshire town, Whitby, began mining jet and turned it into mourning jewellery. Whitby began the manufacture of jewellery in the 1830ís but really came into prominence after the Great Exhibition in 1851, Jetís popularity increased again after the death of Prince Albert in 1861 when Queen Victoria and her court went into deep mourning wearing only jet jewellery for ornamentation. By the 1880ís the jet industry declined with the introduction of cheaper substitutes like bog oak and French jet. The jet market suffered another blow when Queen Victoria relaxed her mourning code in 1887 during the celebration of her Silver Jubilee.
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