Characteristics of real jet beads

Hi! I was just wondering what the characteristics of real jet beads
are… I purchased 4 large hand carved beads and I was told they are
real jet. They are extremely light weight for their size and do not
feel cold to the touch. Some years ago I was given a strand of beads
as jet beads. I now believe they are crystal beads in Jet color.
Swarovsky calls all its black crystal jet. Is there a sure fire way to
discern jet from crystal or resin without chemical testing? I greatly
appreciate your help! Vera

Vera; Heat a needle point to white hot and apply it to an
inconspicuous place on the bead…near the hole. If you get a little
puff of smoke that smells like coal, then it’s jet. Jet is a type of
coal. Jerry in Kodiak

Not long ago, I think someone here suggested that a way to test it a
black stone is jet is to touch it gently with a hot pin. If the stone
smokes, it’s jet.

Can anyone verify this one? I haven’t tried it yet.

Silverhorn Designs

Caveat: I do not “do” stones. I have, however, acquired a few pieces
of gin-yoo-wine jet from my great-grandmother. This is what they are

-Very smooth, matte black finish.


-Not cold to the touch.

-They “tink” against my teeth a little bit.

The only test I could think of would be heating a needle and pressing
it up against it. Stone or glass won’t be affected, resin will smell
funny – at least, in theory. Jet might not be affected as with
stone. Even though I don’t know a test, I hope the description of the
jet I have helps.


I had never heard of “jet” until recently. I have a friend from
Poland that was talking about “gagat”. It is extremely popular in
Poland and he brought a bunch of jewelry his wife wears. Gagat is
the Polish version of “gajet” or “jet”. If you read polish (which I
don’t) there is more on Internet about jet. I guess I
could have my friend translate some pages.

I did find on page (in English) that was kind of interesting.

This doesn’t really answer the question… well it does tell you it is
a form of coal (lignite). So I feel justified in sending this :slight_smile:

  • james -
Is there a sure fire way to discern jet from crystal or resin
without chemical testing? I greatly appreciate your help! Vera 

The very light weight is one obvious indication of jet. Jet is
actually a form of coal, not a resin. You can tell it from it’s
streak (rub it lightly on a bit of tile or unglazed ceramic. The line
it leaves is dark brown). This test should only be done on an
inconspicous area, though, since it mars the piece of jet. If you
can find a tiny chip (with a loupe), it will be dull and grainy
looking, not shiny and glassy. Another classic test is the “hot
point” test. Touching the piece briefly with a red hot needle in an
inconspicous spot will show different results with resins (which melt
and emit a smell) vs jet, which emits only a mild smell, vs crystal,
which does nothing. Whether you can tell jet this way depends on your
sense of smell though, and again, it’s a test that can leave a mark on
some materials. Use a loupe to watch the reaction as you touch the
piece, and use only the tip of a sharp point, red hot, and you won’t
leave a large mark. And jet, like crystal, but unlike many plastics,
will crumble/powder in front of a needle or sharp blade, while many
plastics and resins will let the blade “bite” in, raising a tiny
curl. And finally, some, but not all, jet will be porous enough to
absorb moisture, so that if you put a tiny drop of water or saliva on
it, it will appear to dry off faster than it would on non-porous
materials. This isn’t always visible, but when you see it, it tells
you that the material is not glass (crystal) or plastic…

Peter Rowe

Jet jewelry became very popular with the Victorians because: When
Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert died, she deemed that no jewelry
other than black would be worn at Court. So I guess all they had at
the time was jet, that was a true black. interresting. Doesn’t
real jet float of something like that? Susan Chastain

My understanding is that jet is one of few stones which will develope
a static charge when rubbed with silk or wool. Amber is another
stone which does this. this is not a totally reliable test since
glass will do the same thing. However, if you find a way of being
sure it is not glass and it will produce a static charge this way,
then it is probably jet. Michael / QuestFox “Love is like pi- natural,
irrational, and very important.” Lisa Hoffmann

I’ve got some carved heads beads which are jet. Think of jet as
fossilized oil. It’s actually a really heavy hydrocarbon (heavy as
the analytical chemist – my day job-- thinks).

Real jet is very light and warm. Much lighter than most plastics.
The beads I have are the only true jet I have seen in the past 7
years of gem shows.

There are chemical tests, but they are mostly destructive. My guess
is that you may actually have real jet.

Karl J. Kuhlmann