Sarah Caldwell Steele has had a love affair with Whitby jet since the age of seven. Reinforcing 40 years of commercial experience of working jet as a lapidary product, she graduated from Durham with a Degree in Geology in1992. She was awarded Fellowship of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain in 2013, and subsequently Diamond Fellowship in 2015. Her gemmological prowess lies in the identification of black gem materials including natural and semi-synthetic biopolymers. Sarah is widely considered the world’s leading authority on the jet species of gemstones and her work to establish a new nomenclature system for gem-quality hydrocarbons and ultimately determine country of origin for jet is challenging previous perceptions of these ancient gem materials.
In 2019 she returned to Durham University as a PhD candidate. Her project aims to establish a new methodology for the identification of carbonaceous artefacts in the archaeological record drawing on techniques employed by the contemporary indigenous lapidary practitioners of Europe, Asia and the Americas.