The Tradition of Jet Beads

Posted by Tim Johnson on

Just like most of Caribbijou’s other hand-crafted jewelry, these beautiful, black beaded bracelets are more than just an eye-catching accessory. In West Indian culture, they also have a spiritual meaning behind their design. 


If you have never heard of Jet beads before, allow us to introduce you. These little black beads are known as “jet” and similarly to coal, they are actually made from fossilized wood. It is important to note that these little gems have low hardness, meaning they can get scratched up relatively easily. Therefore, it’s important to store your Jet bead bracelet, chain or anklet somewhere where other, harder materials will not be able to bruise the beads’ smooth finish. While these pieces are stunning, we don’t create and sell these bracelets, chains and anklets just because of their physical appearance. In many of the islands, these beads are thought to be powerful, offering protection to its wearer from maljo, also known as the “evil eye.” I’ve noticed several analogues for this in other cultures around the world as well.

Jet beads are believed to ward off maljo/maljue and are traditionally given to newborns to protect them from evil eye. In Trinidadian culture (and many other cultures), it is believed that anyone who has received the evil eye will experience illness or misfortune. Babies are considered to be more vulnerable to the effects of maljo, which is why their protection is seen as so important. 

Jet is believed to have protective properties, which is why jet was the “gem” of choice for these bracelets. Jet is said to guard whoever wears it from evil, violent or negative energies. Jet beads can also be worn by babies and adults for protection or as a tribute to their island heritage. I can remember, while growing up, when a family member had a new baby, my father would often gift a jet bead bracelet to them for the above-mentioned reasons.

In fashion, black beaded bracelets are popular among both men and women. Since our jet beads are black with either silver or gold, this means that they will pair well with any outfit and any other accessories you might want to wear. We do these in small batches to be sure to check for availability.

Shop our beautiful jet bead jewelry.



International Gem Society

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  • I remember when I went back to Barbados in 2014 and I’ll purchase for setts of bangles, small ones and regular size ones all of my girls receive one each and all of my grand daughters also receive the small ones as a tradition because I’m from Barbados I felt they all needed to have one each so I carry on that tradition, Barbados Saint John

    Harriett on

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