Thu Oct 4, 2018 4:00pm

Advances in Hydrocarbon Gemmology: The Jet Group

Sponsored by: Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Jet is a type of gem-quality hydrocarbon that was crafted into beads and amulets in Europe and the Americas throughout the Neolithic period. During the Medieval Era, its unique attributes led alchemists to consider jet a potential candidate for the ‘Philosophers Stone’. Despite this illustrious history, very little geological research has been carried out on these culturally important materials, and myth and folklore tend to prevail over hard geological facts. Adding to the problem, confusion in the nomenclature of gem hydrocarbons has given rise to a situation in which multiple structurally and chemically unrelated materials are often, from an archaeological perspective, termed ‘jet’.
Sarah Caldwell Steele was awarded a Fellowship of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain in 2013, and subsequently a Diamond Fellowship in 2015. Sarah’s particular expertise lies in the identification of natural and semi-synthetic thermoset and thermoplastic materials used in 19th jewelry, but she now dedicates much of her time to research into gem hydrocarbons, in particularly the jet group. Her recent research collaborations with The National Museums of Scotland and The Centre for Research and Restoration of the National Museums of France are challenging our previous perceptions and understanding of jet.

Admission: Free
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