This necklace of faceted beads is made of French ‘jet’, cast black glass made in imitation of organic jet, a fossilised wood. Jet jewellery, produced mainly in workshops in the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby, became immensely fashionable for mourning wear during the reign of Queen Victoria. French ‘jet’, heavier than Whitby jet, is more vulnerable to fracture and some of the beads in this necklace are cracked. It belonged to Elizabeth Buchanan, nee Lucas (c1822-1890) who had arrived in Sydney from northern Ireland in 1838. In 1842 she married William Buchanan (c1799-1885) who had come to New South Wales from Ireland twenty years earlier and had established a career for himself first as a civil servant, then as a surveyor and later a pastoralist. He died at his home Lara in Darlinghurst in 1885. A Freeman & Co studio photograph of Elizabeth taken in the late 1880s shows her wearing the necklace. After her own death in July 1890 it went to her daughter Bessie Rouse of Rouse Hill House. The elegance of the necklace with its deep black lustre could be worn by Bessie both in memory of her mother and as a stylish accoutrement.
HR93/183-3 + HR94/136 [photograph]