For Finds Friday this week, we have this fantastic complete Roman jet ring was found during one of our recent excavation projects in Newcastle.
Jet was mined near Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast and transferred to workshops in York to be made into items of jewellery, hair pins and even furniture inlays. Although the Romans had been aware of the material for several centuries, it reached its manufacturing heyday in the 3rd century. It is not clear why jet suddenly became so popular, but this change in fashion may have been due to the influence of the empress Julia Domna who visited York with her husband, the emperor Septimius Severus, in AD208. The imperial couple were the celebrities of their day, and Roman women would have kept a close eye on what the glamourous empress wore and attempted to copy her style. It is possible she fell in love with the locally produced gemstone and set a new fashion trend in a manner similar to Queen Victoria’s influence on the jet industry several centuries later.