Bakelite and catalin are both made from phenol and formaldehyde, and are phenol… It was very popular during the Art Deco period – 1920-1935. Reverse carved/painted and confetti acrylics, carved/molded phenolics vs simple color blocks, painted celluloid vs. celluloid set with rhinestones …. Posted by The Chatsworth Lady in Vintage Jewelry, acrylic jewelry, Bakelite jewelry, celluloid jewelry, Lucite jewelry, vintage costume jewelry, vintage plastic jewelry. There were sooooo many things made out of the various plastics during the first half of the 20th century and the whole manufacturing rationale was that they could be made to visually resemble so many other materials. It's somewhat expensive, but it is also great for polishing Bakelite, silver, and most any metal. The cast phenolics appeared around 1930 but pretty much disappeared by 1950. Enjoy diy fashion crafts and classic style inspiration ... How to Identify Bakelite. In practical real-world terms the type of plastic is most useful in order to determine its care (including identification or testing methods) and for what I call “expectation of value”. Any jewelry item that is between forty years and eighty years old can be considered vintage jewelry. Rhinestones are now made of crystal, glass, or even plastic. Jan 9, 2013 - As the popularity of classic costume jewelry has increased, so too have the fakes and reproductions. . 1725 by Pieter Tillemans, Flemish, active in Great Britain 1684-1734, oil on canvas. The 1930s to the 1950s was the era of Bakelite jewelry. Non-Plastic Materials. Trademarked names for the molded phenolics include: Aqualite, Arcolite, Arochems, Bakelite, Beckopol, Catapond, Catalin, Celoron, Coltrock and Coltwood, Consoweld , Gala, Marblette, Plaskon and Tego. Acrylic plastics have been marketed under the following names, among others: Acrylan, Acryloid, Cadco, Chrystalix, Fiberfil, Gala, Gering MMRW, Joda Acrylic, Lucite, Midlom M, Plexiglass, and Rhoplexes. These generalized terms came into the language because at one time those manfacturers were the first and/or the most recognizable makers of a product. It is almost always opaque (never translucent) and vintage pieces are often seen in mottled or swirled colors with black or very dark brown being one of them. One thing you can do to determine if a pearl is real or fake is to detect the weight. A tiny amount applied to a cotton swab will perform the same test that Simichrome and the old 409 used to do. However, Simichrome can now be hard to find in many areas of the country and the other testing standby (Formula 409 cleaner) no longer works after Dow changed its chemical formula years ago. ring, necklace, bracelet, etc. Testing: Application of hot water will produce a sour-milk or wet-wool smell. It often yellows with age and so all those pale yellow/ecru-colored Deco era brooches seen today were much closer to either clear or white back then. Examples include bangle bracelets, flat, button-shaped earrings and beaded necklaces. It is generally considered to be a thermoset plastic. Widely considered the first synthetic plastic, Bakelite items are a hot commodity today among collectors of vintage jewelry and mechanical parts. Change ). Thank you – how do I know when your next materials will be here? At first glance through the wrinkled, dusty plastic bag, they appeared to be quite similar, despite their varied sizes. Pingback: Selling Jewelry on Etsy: Part 2 Researching Vintage Costume Jewelry. A couple of the designs are also found in my book Juliana Jewelry - The Last Generation on page 285. So now that we’ve clarified that a piece described as “celluloid” is referring to any one of a large group of vintage plastics, it’s important to know that ALL plastics – whether made 60 years or 60 days ago – fall into one of two categories: Thermoplastic or Thermoset. . However, its use in larger articles was limited because it cannot be molded; it must be cut or carved, thus its use was effectively restricted to small things like jewelry and buttons rather than, say, boxes, brushes, combs, etc. Sometimes Lucite is confused with other types of vintage plastic. My search for true black bakelite continues….TY again for response. You’d need to add style, findings, and construction methods into the mix in order to get a clearer idea of its age. You can identify a bead's substance with a few simple tests. Take care, however, as beads that feel warm could still be vintage but made from amber, nuts, vegetable ivory, wood, Bakelite (vintage plastic), bone and animal-derived ivory. It was often used to imitate ivory (ivoroid form), tortoise shell, amber, coral, and mother of pearl (an iridescent laminated form often used for 1920s and 1930s dresser sets). If it is made of many small pieces set in metal, it could be molded Lucite and, if so, it's likely a vintage piece. In other words, given four late-1930s plain bangle bracelets made of differing materials – celluloid, cellulose acetate, a molded phenolic, and an acrylic – I would expect the one made of cellulose acetate to exhibit the greatest amount of vintage wear, and the ones made of phenolic and acrylic the least, simply by nature of what they are made of. Created as a nonflammable alternative to the risky original celluloid, it appeared on the market in the 1930s and was often made in bright, saturated loud “neon” colors although it can also be transparent and can imitate the same natural materials that celluloid could. They later switched to a different kind of plastic but if you look at a photo of a 1930s necklace vs one of their 1950s ones, you couldn’t tell the difference. And so it was with Celluloid, Bakelite and Lucite … all of which in their capitalized form are trademarked names BUT in today’s marketplace are used as “shorthand” terms for all plastics falling into the same chemical category. One way to confirm age is to carefully examine the findings, or hardware, such as pins, hinges, etc. One reason I decided against photo examples was that it might cause additional confusion if someone were to assume that every similar piece was a particular material: For example, that because a brooch is a certain shade of green it is galalith rather than something else; or that other examples of cellulose nitrate can’t look entirely different. Examples also include pressed or moulded glass, high quality milky colored pastes, that imitated moonstones and chalcedony and superb faux pearls. You definitely don't want to pay real jewelry prices for fakes, either. A set of fake pearls will feel quite light. Another entry into the “nobody’s perfect” plastics sweepstakes as far as jewelry is concerned, although ironically it is widely used in manufacturing applications ranging from laminates to paper to fabrics; some sources list it as a thermoplastic because in its liquid form it can be used as an adhesive. ... A decorative piece of jewelry, usually metal, that fastens onto a piece of clothing, brooches tell a detailed story. Characteristics: The molded phenolics can, obviously, have mold marks whereas the cast items cannot. It should be a heavy, low-pitched clack. Pictures Could be so very helpful. Study the style of the jewelry. In answer to your question about site updates, you can “follow” by email if you don’t have a WordPress blog site yourself. See more ideas about bakelite jewelry, bakelite, vintage bakelite. Look for statement pieces that are assembled with chunky plastic links and are in … Some claim that a peroxide soak can remove existing yellowing; however, I’d hesitate to try it on a piece of vintage jewelry without knowing exactly what plastic it’s made of. See more ideas about vintage costume jewelry, costume jewelry, vintage costumes. then it may help to know the category of plastic but because there was considerable overlap – other than, perhaps, with the caseins – the plastic itself isn’t determinative. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Jewelry she was born in 1880 My Grandmother was born in 1900 and I would like to know what I have. As for other tests, Sheryl Shatz’s 1991 mini-book “What’s It Made Of? I hope you find this compilation of tips useful in sorting the assorted and identifying the unlabeled. Unlike celluloid, casein plastics are not flammable. You might also simply like (or hate) the look or feel of specific kinds of plastic. For hundreds of years, naturally occurring quartz crystals found along the Rhine River in Europe were coveted for jewelry but were eventually depleted from the area. ❤️ Ilene Identifying antique plastic: Lucite has a slick feel and is fairly light in weight. Conversely, modern costume jewelry manufacturers only plate costume jewelry one time, so it is more likely to tarnish quickly and cause irritation to sensitive skin. Sometimes a single piece will show both transparent areas and swirly translucent ones. Vintage Bakelite jewelry, by and large, will have vintage findings. My willingness to pay X amount of dollars for any of them would be influenced at least in part by my expectation of what condition it should be in, given its material + age. Understand the sparkle in your hand. As with most vintage jewelry, you need to look at the back of the piece. Vintage jewelry made of (or with) plastic falls into one of six groups: celluloid, casein, cellulose acetate, phenolics which include Bakelite, and acrylics which include Lucite. How To Collect and Identify Vintage Brooches and Pins! She enjoys covering arts and culture, fashion and travel. Solving the intriguing riddle posed by the marks stamped onto a piece of jewelry involves the use of a variety of skills and a wealth of knowledge. Any diamonds and semi-precious stones in the piece have a going market value. Also, some images in the Operculum Jewelry post show examples with faux-tortoiseshell (plastic) elements in them. You can identify a bead's substance with a few simple tests. Findings on genuine vintage Bakelite jewelry are generally attached with mechanical fasteners such as tiny screws, pins and nails. At first glance through the wrinkled, dusty plastic bag, they appeared to be quite similar, despite their varied sizes. The somewhat unpurified formula used in this type of phenolic prevents delicate pastel and other light tints from being produced. Tap two pieces of jewelry together One of the easiest and best ways to identify Bakelite jewelry is to tap two pieces together. Characteristics: Can range from as light as celluloid to a bit heavier. Many times antique dealers can identify vintage plastics by sight alone. One of the most informative articles I’ve run across so far. This might be responsible for the lack of response to a chemical test. A Web Experience brought to you by LEAFtv, Steptoes Dog: Identifying Vintage & Antique Plastics, The Difference Between Lucite, Plastic & Bakelite, Difference Between Black Onyx & Black Sapphire. It is much harder to tell the origin of a solid color Lucite. Thank you for all the awesome information! - - Vintage Bakelite Jewelry - *HOW TO IDENTIFY BAKELITE JEWELRY By Carly Wickell - *What is Bakelite? Old plastic is generally in the low market category and can range from $3 and up. When attempting to identify costume jewelry, preferably under 10x loupe magnification the first golden rule: Inspect the jewelry all over for any signs of damage, missing stones, flat or discolored stones and chipped enamel. The hook and box clasp (also called “fish hook” clasp) was commonly used on pearl necklaces or necklaces with gemstone beads. It also produces a ‘clunk’ sound when tapped but not quite as low a sound as does a phenolic; it can be very frustrating to tell the difference! Other popular materials frequently used in vintage jewelry include glass, shell, wood, Lucite, celluloid, enamel, Bakelite, imitation pearls and stones, tiger’s eye, and opals. Costume Jewelry Designers Part 1 is listed in alphabetical order and the subject is divided into Two Parts. Just click the Follow button (which will be in the righthand sidebar if you’re viewing on a computer, or down near the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device) and a sign-up box will appear. Juliana jewelry was not signed, but was sold with a hangtag. To identify Juliana jewelry, you need to look for some specific traits. It is fun and interesting to try and has really helped me to identify Bakelite. If the jewelry is a solid color but in a vintage style, then it's probably an older piece. The importation of raw African elephant ivory to the United States has been illegal since 1989, and the trade of elephant ivory within the U.S. is heavily regulated. However, pieces purchased at antique stores or estate sales are usually in vintage styles and easy to identify when compared with modern jewelry styles. Thank you for reply….now to find some unglazed white tile , You should be able to use the underside of any tile, because typically they are only glazed on the top surface. The jewelry was made popular by entertainers such as Carmen Miranda. True celluloid – made according to the original formula using cotton fibers, nitric acids and camphor – was not made after WWII except in Occupied Japan who had for decades held the world monopoly on the camphor trade. The size and weight of the items will create a different sound so this method isn't as reliable and should always be used with other tests. If it is warm, this is a sign that is might be plastic. Officially, vintage jewelry needs to be at least 20 years old. I wish there were some photos and examples though. On second glance, I knew I needed to get my glasses and a better lamp. Also, the presence of paint or any type of glaze on the surface of the celluloid will act as a barrier to the generation of the camphor smell although not – unfortunately – to deformation by temperature. There is a British company called Tatra Rotalac that was founded in 1939 as Rotalac Plastics but there’s no indication on their web site that they made jewelry. Lucite and Plexiglass are far and away the most recognizable and both have evolved into being lower-case ‘household names’ although lucite is more commonly used in reference to jewelry and plexiglass when referring to larger articles. Unlike celluloid, though, it can appear in bright Crayola-type colors whereas celluloid (with exception of red) is more muted. As Lillian Baker aptly put it in her introduction to ‘Plastic Jewelry of the Twentieth Century’, “unless a piece of jewelry is marked “Bakelite” or “Catalin” or “Celluloid” (or any trademarks cited in the article which is printed in Appendix A), it is virtually impossible to pinpoint the actual product used for jewelry collected today.”  (italics mine). One particular bag I remember was filled with hundreds of black beads. Identifying antique plastic: Lucite has a slick feel and … Indian pieces use a variety of clasps. Cast-phenolic items were expensive to produce because they could not be molded. Bakelite and catalin are trade names for closely related antique plastics that are popularly collected today in the form of old timey radios ('catalin radios'), colorful jewelry, toys and more. If you fall in love with a brooch does it really matter whether it was made of celluloid, casein, or a phenolic? Trademarked names for cast phenolics include: Aquapearl, Bakelite, Catalin, crystle, joanite, Marblette, opalon, plyophen, Prystal and textalite. I have started collecting again a bit. and does it really matter? . Identifying Out In The Field . These pieces can sometimes be as valuable as pieces of fine jewelry. It was formed into sheets of various thicknesses, rods, and blocks. ( Log Out /  Started with jewellery when I was about 11 and got my first Lucite purse when I was in my late teens! If … After the war it was no longer a moneymaker for the partnership but since the name had become so well known, Dupont continued to use it for other products such as paint, and ICI changed its name to Lucite International. That said, true Lucite is an acrylic and acrylics do not yellow with age; other vintage clear plastics (and even some modern ones such as the polycarbonates) will do so. Hold the pearls in your hand. ( Log Out /  For a less-risky method of testing, scrape an inconspicuous area of the piece in question onto a rough surface, like the back of a ceramic tile or the bottom of a … It is very Important to me to know what it is Exactly. None of the phenolics could be made in plain white. This style is a clear identifier of a vintage piece. Some of these styles are still made today. Thanks so much for this information! Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Purchased with funds provided by the Sklenar Family – Herb, Ellie, Susan and Tisha; and the Art Fund, Inc., AFI.4.2013,, Selling Jewelry on Etsy: Part 2 Researching Vintage Costume Jewelry. All text within this blog is ©The Chatsworth Lady except as otherwise noted, such as attributed quotes. The phenolics are thermoset plastics, i.e., once formed into an object that’s the shape in which it remains. Testing: Because acrylics are extremely heat-resistant thermoplastics they usually produce no odor when heat is applied unless it is by hot point (never recommended for anything!) Vintage or handmade costume jewelry pieces are not worthless, but when you want precious metals and stones, you don't want to be duped into thinking you have the real thing. Can be pretty much any color, including transparent or black (though sometimes black paint was applied). However, it is now in a permanent form and even if heat is applied to it will remain “set” in that form and will not again return to its original soft (plastic) state. You could try contacting them via their web site to inquire further though. Old plastic is generally in the low market category and can range from $3 and up. On second glance, I knew I needed to get my glasses and a better lamp. It could be opaque, translucent or transparent. Identify the material: is it fine or costume? You’re out on the vintage hunt and come across a…bangle bracelet, let’s say. I’ve got all the books on plastic jewelry as well on buttons and no one has done such a thorough job of historical and material composition backgrounds. They seem to have been doing injection-molded plastics for industry. Urea plastics are probably the culprit when people remark on “cheap plastic junk jewelry”! You’ll notice that I’ve only capitalized two of those names and there’s a reason for that. The reason I didn’t include photos was that I don’t want to give the impression that a particular plastic always looks a certain way to the exclusion of anything else…and there’s no way I could include a representative photo of all the other examples that same plastic could also look like… especially once into the 1930s and beyond. Contemporary: contemporary pins contain lots of pop cultural references, are more commonly made of plastic and can include large, graphic prints or phrases. Lumarith, Tenite and Plastacele were the ‘big three’ wellknown names in cellulose acetate manufacturing. Produces a low ‘clunk’ sound when tapped, especially if two phenolic pieces are tapped together. Take a quick look at it and notice if there are any seams in the plastic. Native American jewelry only has two types of silver clasp or sinew. A veritable cornucopia of fascinating plastics to choose from – obviously, Mr. McGuire (in “The Graduate”) was right, even though clearly there is more than “one word” for them! See if If the piece has glitter trapped inside the plastic. No grain lines. designating cellulose acetate), Cinelin, Clearsite, gemloid, joda c/a, Lumarith, macite, midlon a, nixonite and nixon c.a., Plastacele, pyra-shell, Tec, Tenite, and vuepak. If there are, its not Bakelite. In your opinion, what test will work, and why is black so different? An especially interesting cast phenolic was Bios Glace, made by Lisner in 1935, whereby a clear cast phenolic would be poured over a wood piece placed into a mold. A cellulose acetate bracelet will give off a vinegary smell. The molded phenolics are most often seen in the darker shades of browns, deep reds/maroons, and black. Trademarked names for casein plastics include Ameroid, Casolith, Dorcasine, Galalith and Kyloid. The noted German jewelry maker Jakob Bengel particularly favored the combination of Galalith and chrome for his “machine age” 1930s designs. The formula itself was developed in the very early 1900s and can be subdivided into “molded” and “cast” categories. Glass beads are cooler to the touch than plastic ones. Thus a thermoplastic is a substance that can and will become soft and malleable again (or damaged) via the application of heat. You can identify from the sound whether the piece you are buying is original or not. There are a few exceptions, especially when it comes to an early plastic called celluloid. Vintage Lucite comes in some very singular styles that make it look different than most contemporary Lucite. You definitely don't want to pay real jewelry prices for fakes, either. For instance, using the term ‘lucite’ to describe beads from the 1980s when I’d believed lucite to be from early 20th century rather than later. Quick elimination test. Colorful versions of jewelry are often mistaken for catalin plastic which could also be made in many colors and textures. See above for the colors per type. When you type in “vintage costume jewelry” in the search box and select completed listings, you will quickly learn what’s selling and what’s not and for what price. There’s a perplexing plethora of vintage plastic jewelry for sale that is described as being “celluloid”, “bakelite”, “lucite”, etc  – but what exactly IS it? Today I am continuing my discussion with costume jewelry expert and author Jacqueline Rehmann, digging deeper into identifying the vintage plastics used in costume jewelry. So how important is it to know, when looking at a piece of vintage plastic jewelry, exactly what it is made of? Funny, after I posted, I realized I have a tile that I put under my glue gun to catch drips, so did exactly as you suggested. Characteristics: Extremely similar to celluloid in weight, appearance, and ‘faux’ applications. When you type in “vintage costume jewelry” in the search box and select completed listings, you will quickly learn what’s selling and what’s not and for what price. The setting looks vintage. By the way, genuine (not faux) jet can also be tested on white unglazed tile but that leaves a brown streak — not black. It lacks the waxiness of celluloid and the caseins. For instance, readers of a certain age may recall when it was common to refer to any non-professional camera as a “kodak” even if it was made by some other company, or being asked at work to “make a xerox of this report” even when the photocopy machine was not actually made by Xerox Corporation. Unfortunately I sold off about 150 lucite purses in the early days of eBay because I was having such problems with them decaying, Especially the tortoise colored ones. Vintage jewelry using celluloid dates to about 1900 and is commonly known as the first thermoplastic material used in jewelry. Although it is not flammable, it has its own special bete noir: it becomes grossly distorted if exposed to water for any length of time. THIS WAS VERY ENLIGHTENING, ESPECIALLY THE PART ABOUT THE PLASTICS ARE JUST THAT- PLASTIC-THEY ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL AND AFFORDABLE. The magic of vintage costume jewelry transcends the decade, despite whichever fashion trends are happening at the moment. It can occur in pretty much any color imaginable, from solid and dense to translucent or transparent. To identify Juliana jewelry, you need to look for some specific traits. In 1915 Arlington was bought by E.I. It is safer to rely on other factors such as color (a celluloid would never be seen in neon green, screaming magenta, hot pink, etc) and weight (celluloid is noticeably lighter). Glass beads are cooler to the touch than plastic ones. It is important to be sure the piece is vintage, in good shape, and has a lot of brightly colored clean stones all set with prongs. amazing Compared to back in the 80s when I first started collecting. by . As far as it being Pyralin, that was just one of the trade-names of the late 1880s/early 1900s; it was first coined by the Arlington Co. of Boston and they actually stamped the word Pyralin (or Ivory Pyralin) on many of their items. - Bakelite is a castable, fire resistant plastic that was invented by Leo Baekeland in 1909. Bakelite makes a distinct sound when clicked together, and women wore the bangles stacked one on the other. At its most basic, we can usually easily identify the type of jewelry i.e. There were some design challenges too, because it has to be molded rather than cast or carved. Remove the piece of jewelry from the water and smell it. by Christie Romero For this reason, sellers will often identify their jewelry as "D&E Juliana" Jewelry. If the piece was purchased in a big box store or a chain store selling contemporary jewelry, it is likely a contemporary piece of Lucite and not vintage. Pick up the bead in question. Sometimes the type of finding used can be a clue as to a piece’s age. Casein was invented in the 1890s and was made from milk protein. Box by box, strand by strand, bead by bead, we began sorting and identifying our beads. I took a quick look in my Celluloid reference book to see if any such belts were shown there; nope. It was very popular during the Art Deco period – 1920-1935. , I’ve been searching and haven’t found a good answer; do you know is there a way to make a vintage lucite/plastic clear bangle bracelet that has some yellowing clear again? I’ve read that about black Bakelite as well, although some specify that some may not react to the Simichrome test without mentioning whether it happens with the other two “chemical” tests (Formula 409 and/or Awesome Cleaner) as well. Elements of 1950’s Costume Jewelry. But at least I Got really good money, but it all went to pay bills. Many thanks, Tracie! thank you so much for your information I have collected vintage plastics pretty much throughout my life. Lucite itself was developed in the mid-late 1930s by Dupont and was first advertised as such in June 1937. The plastic would coat the wood and solidify into a thick glaze which – being a thermoset – could be then polished to a glass-like brilliance which also acted as a magnifier to bring out the grain of the wood. Testing:  I would hesitate to test a cellulostic by using hot water, because although theoretically it should take more than just a few seconds of contact with H2O to damage the piece, why take the risk? When shopping for jewelry or jewelry supplies, it is often difficult to differentiate between glass beads and plastic beads. As with bracelets, commonly used vintage necklace clasps include ring clasps, foldover clasps, and box clasps. Look at the color of the jewelry. Not quite as heat resistant as the molded phenolics but is still a thermoset; for example, the top of an early 1940s radio cabinet made of a cast phenolic may be blistered from heat buildup while one of the same age but made from a molded phenolic will probably be fine).