Hal Redvers-Jones is the very talented jeweller behind the Whitby Jet Heritage Centre's exquisites pieces of work. We were lucky to have Hal tell us more about his work and the history behind this 180 year old fossil.
When did your interest in Whitby Jet begin?
I started specialising in Whitby Jet twenty five years ago and was fascinated by the fact that there are only two organic fossils that the world values and that has been used by mankind for personal adornment from the early Bronze Age to the present times.
Unlike the bullion and other materials I work with, Jet is an organic fossil and often has natural inclusions that are not visible. (The blackest material in the world is light ginger brown while it is being worked and only acquires its deep velvety blackness upon completion)
These inclusions can be a pressure fault or a very small speck of white Calcite which of course spoil the finished piece. So, after many hours of work as you bring your piece to completion there is the flaw and the piece is spoiled - Very character building!
Do you have a studio space or shop you work from?
I work in the shop at a well appointed carving bench so that customers can see me working on individual pieces.
There is a workshop in the back of the premises (not open to the public) and a workshop attached to my home for those late night sessions, when I need peace and quiet to concentrate.
Are there any new mediums or techniques that interest you?
I am always fascinated by new techniques and have witnessed the improvement and availability of lapidary tools and equipment over the years that have extended my personal carving abilities.
The above images: Large Greenbury Ring' which is a Whitby jet carved cabochon with the Greenbury pattern, a 'Pandora' style carved bead inlaid with silver and a pair of contemporary earrings combined with other natural stones, bone and fossil.
We don't do the descriptions of these exquisite pieces any justice and the hard work and talent that goes into making these beautiful items needs to be seen for yourselves. So visit the Whitby Jet Heritage Centre or take a look at the website to purchase these items and others like them (See links to the Heritage centre and website below)
What is the main inspiration for your designs?
I love to set myself against the master carvers of the 19th Century when Jet jewellery was such an important feature of Victorian fashion.
My inspiration is the aforementioned Victorian and Gothic influences of that era but I am very interested in adapting the material to large