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Where to find Whitby Jet and how to identify it

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Whitby Jet is a fossilised gemstone that you can find along the coast of North Yorkshire. Jet hunting is fun and jet makes very beautiful jewellery, here are the best places to find Whitby Jet and how to identify it.

Fossilised Araucaria tree, also known as jet is the result of millions of years of compression of decomposed wood. You can find jet yourself along the North Yorkshire coastline. Hunting for Whitby Jet is a wonderful way to explore the magnificent coastline here, be mindful and take home your very own precious gemstone. 

Where to find Whitby Jet

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Jet was popular in Roman Britain and used to make rings, hairpins, beads, bracelets, bangles, necklaces, and pendants, very similar to today! You can find Roman jet jewellery displayed at Yorkshire Museum. Jet is beautiful, and unique and was even favoured by Queen Victoria who wore an abundance of it for her husband, Alberts’s funeral. After this, she only wore jet jewellery. In fact, she mandated that only mourning jewellery could be worn in court until around 1880.

Where to find Whitby jet

Jet is warm to the touch and comes in hard or soft form. It will be hard if found near salt water, and soft if close to freshwater. The jet that you will find in Whitby and the surrounding area is from the Jurassic period and will be approximately 182 million years old. You can find it in the debris from fallen cliffs, Whitby jet is of the finest in the world and has a reputation as the ‘gold standard’ in jet.

Beachcombing is a great way to find jet and a fun way to spend time. Tate Hill is a great place to start it’s a small beach located within the harbour entrance. It’s a popular place to relax and take in the beautiful views. Robin Hood’s Bay, Runswick Bay and Staithes are also great locations.

You can find Whitby jet at Saltwick Bay

Our favourite location to find jet has to be Saltwick Bay, you can get down to the beach via a footpath that starts near the Whitby Holiday Park which is located on the cliff above the bay. The path is steep and can be slippery at times so make sure to take caution. Saltwick Bay is a great place to search for fossils such as ammonites and belemnites. Whitby Jet can be found amongst the rocks and shale at either end of the beach. 

How to identify Whitby Jet

How to identify Whitby Jet

Once you have a little experience you can tell a piece of jet just by its shape and how shiny it is. The best trick to tell if you have found a piece of the jet is to rub a corner on a light piece of stone, if the rubbing leaves a black mark you have probably found coal if the rubbing leaves a brown mark you will have found jet. A high-quality piece of jet is quite hard compared to coal and leaves pale brown rubbing.

When is the best time to find Whitby jet

Saltwick Bay is a popular place to find Whitby Jet

The best time to go hunting for jet is after a good storm, or strong tides as the sea will often deposit more, leaving more behind. Winter is a great time to find jet. Of course, you need to go when the tide is going out, always check the tide times so you don’t get cut off. Don’t worry you can still find jet even if you visit and there isn’t rough weather. 

Searching for jet along the North Yorkshire Coast is a popular thing to do, we always spot people looking for the gemstone whilst exploring the coastline. Let us know in the comments if you have ever found jet in Whitby and the surrounding area, we love to hear from you.

‘Whitby Jet Header Image’ by S0MEBODY 3LSE is available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/s0mebody3lse/5871505176 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0.

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2 thoughts on “Where to find Whitby Jet and how to identify it”

  1. I think we have found several pieces of Whitby jet weighting 240g south of Scarborough. Have done the suggested tests successfully..and it looks identical to the images of jet I have googled.

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  2. I have found some nice pieces as far south as Cleethorpes beach; particularly when a lot of coal has washed up after an especially high super-moon tide. Where there is a lot of coal there is usually jet too and you’ll be able to see the difference in shape. Coal will be rounded, sparkly with a slightly pitted surface, jet looks like black glass or freshly – broken up hard treacle toffee & much less rounded down than the coal. I keep a small piece of fine sandpaper in my purse to test it. Rarely is one piece by itself, the sea sorts our densities together so there will usually be a cluster of small pieces.

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