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Jet is a form of fossilized coal that was revered during Victorian times, and used widely as jewelry to mourn the passing of a loved one. But how do you know if what you have is jet? The preliminary tests are quite simple. First feel the piece - does it seem exceptionally light for its size? Jet is very light, so this would be step one. After you have determined the heft (or lack thereof!) you can then test aroma. Rub the beads briskly between your hands to warm them and stroke the surfaces of the beads and then smell the piece - does it have an organic smell, possibly with a touch of woodsy smoke? Jet is fossilized coal, and it will smell slighly like coal when rubbed. Jet will also not be cold to the touch when first picked up.
If your beads pass all of these tests, you very well may have a lovely piece of jet on your hands. If you need to know for certain, take your beads to a jeweler for a second opinion, but these hints can help you find your way to identifying your beads.