Jet is one of the oldest gemstones used by mankind, with traditions dating back to far-reaches of prehistory. It was included in many ancient, medieval, and modern lapidaries, texts which describe gemstones and their powers. Jet has been found in many prehistoric sites, from Switzerland to the American Southwest, carved into talismans, such as the Venus of Monruz, or carved and drilled as beads. Because Jet, like Amber, is very soft, it is particularly easy to carve and shape. As a result, both these Organic Gemstones were very popular among prehistoric man wherever they were found, often washing up on beaches after a storm.
Jet is an Organic Gemstone, created from highly pressurized evergreen wood, and will occasionally have wood-like markings running across its surface. While younger than most mineral gemstones, it is the oldest of the Organic gems, and has been dated as far back as the mid-Jurassic Period (201-145 million years ago). Jet is synonymous with the color black, but it can also be dark brown and may even include Pyrite inclusions which give it a metallic luster. In the oldest lapidaries, Jet is called Gagates, which is the Greek name for a fabled river which the black gem supposed originated from. The name evolved over time from Gagates, to the French Jaiet, and finally to the English Jet.