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Bakelite Vintage Jewellery

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Invented in 1909 by Leo Bakelite, Bakelite is a type of plastic with fire resistant properties. Although it was originally used for industrial purposes only, Bakelite soon became popular as a cast able plastic for jewellery. Part of the reason for its allure as a component for jewellery was its inexpensive cost and durability.

Jewellers used Bakelite for creating inexpensive jewellery of a lightweight quality that was amenable to creating jewellery pieces of considerable size. Although other manufacturers began to produce plastics with a similar formula under various names, Bakelite remained popular for quite some time. Two of the more commonly used plastics that were comparable to Bakelite were Lucite and Celluloid. In fact, these two plastics were even lighter in weight than Bakelite. Yet, they were quite similar in appearance.

Colourful bracelets, bangles, brooch pins, and rings were crafted from this unique material for a growing market. As the years went by, more and more costume jewellery was produced using Bakelite. In fact, a change in the appearance of Bakelite in the 1930s and 1940s made Bakelite even more popular with jewellery makers. Specifically, the introduction of attractive color mixes allowed even more colorful jewellery pieces to be crafted for public sale.

Bakelite continued to be a popular choice among women looking for inexpensive yet attractive pieces of jewellery with which to adorn themselves. Today, pieces of Bakelite jewellery can fetch an amazingly expensive price if they are in excellent condition. The value of such pieces continues to remain steady due to their versatile appearance, durable nature and now antique vintage status.

Simple tests at home can verify the authenticity of suspected pieces of Bakelite jewellery. In particular, Bakelite has a very distinctive smell to it when it has been held under hot water for a few moments. The true worth of a vintage piece of Bakelite jewellery depends on several things including the condition of the piece of jewellery, the size, its coloring, its availability, and its visual appeal.


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