Any experience with coal?


I’ve been doing some experimenting with using anthracite coal in
jewelry. It’s river-tumbled coal that I find in the Delaware River.
It’s an interesting material and I’ve had some success so far with
carving it, inlaying stones into it, and drilling it. I do have a few
other questions and would love to talk with anyone who has some
experience with working with it.

In particular, I’ve found that some of the pieces have a wonderful
area of intense blue iridescence that occurs naturally in their
structure. It almost seems like this is a layer within the structure,
but I have not had any success so far in cutting to expose it. or
figuring out how to best use that layer.

If you want to see my favorite one so far, take a look at this one.
Coal with a diamond inset into it and silver inlaid around the edge.

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry


The Southwest Indians have been using anthracite coal in their
jewelry for many years. It cuts well and can be polished to a bright

You are lucky to be able to find a material for your jewelry as
easily as you do. I used to use it in many of my jewelry pieces. For
many years I have had a difficult time find anthracite coal. There is
much poor grade coal available which does not cut well or take a
bright shine.

Lee Epperson

Hi Karen,

If you are interested in making jewellery from coal, you might be
interested in checking out this site. It is about Whitby Jet, which
is similar to coal as it is the mineral of fossilised trees, if I
remember correct it is a fossil from the Monkey Puzzle tree. It has
been mined in Whitby, Yorkshire,for over a century and is used in
jewellery and other carvings. I am not a geologist but I think coal
is also formed fromfossilized plants and trees.

James Miller,
a goldsmith in England wondering what happened to summer this year.

In the UK we have two materials that are more commonly used in
jewellery, namely JET and cannel coal. Jet works really well in
jewellery as it has a slight plasticity to it wheras anthracite is
as dense but brittle. Most other UK coals are too friable to work
well. I have made pieces that have been inlaid with diamonds as you
have done, carved, and also flitched, which is glued or inlaid with
silver and then worked. As jet polishes really well with rouge and
the like this marrying of material (you can do it with amber as well)
does really well. Coal takes a better polish with tin oxide which is
used in lapidary for hard stones. I use steel tools rather than
diamond on jet for drilling and carving.


It's river-tumbled coal that I find in the Delaware River 

Karen - Jet=coal. I forget my coal terms, but jet is the highest
grade, hardest coal. Worst thing about it is the dust…


I’ve been working “wet” with it to keep the dust down. That works
well, but produces the thickest, darkest sludge you can imagine.

I started a “sludge bucket” to use to discard the water when it gets
too thick to see through (quickly) and am not putting that goop into
my septic system. I’m also using surgical gloves and a respirator
when I’m carving it. The first day, I didn’t use the gloves and it
took days for my hands to turn back to a normal color. Learned from
THAT lesson!


I suggest contacting someone in West Virginia where coal carving is
quite an art form.

As far as I have learned from carvers it is about controlling dust
and learning by doing. The natural coloration is like the colors on
an oil slick? you could try and see if once exposed and wet if the
effect returns then I would suggest laquer to seal it to preserve the
coloration. Invention 100 percent sweat 98 percent experimentation
and 40 percent luck lol


Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

These materials are quite soft - about 2 on the mohs scale. Some sea
coal is found on northern East coast US beaches (NJ)… Hard coal has
been mined in Eastern Pennsylvania so finding it in the Delaware is