Native American Jewelry and Carving Materials – Jet

Paula,

One store owner here in Arizona calls jet a gemstone but I’m almost sure that isn’t correct – can you tell me if I am right or not?

Thanx, Jess

Hi Jess,

Good question ! Here’s my official answer.

Jet also known as Acoma Jet

Jet is an organic fossil – a solid, durable type of lignite coal that originated from wood.

Raw Jet

The term coal means the fossilized remains of ancient organic matter that ranges from bog materials to peat to wood. Jet, however, is the fossilized remains of araucaria (coniferous evergreen) wood specifically.


Therefore jet is not a stone or a mineral. It is fossilized wood.

You’d think jet is black……as in jet black……but actually it is very very dark brown but it appears black.

It is mined around the Acoma Pueblo region of New Mexico, among other places, thus the name Acoma Jet, or Jet for short.

Polished Jet

It can be highly polished. Therefore, it is very popular for carving fetishes. Here are some examples of Zuni Fetish carvings from jet.

Jet  is also used for inlaying but not usually used in large pieces for stone sets – if you see large black “stones”, they are usually black onyx.
Here are some examples of Zuni inlay pieces using jet.



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