Identifying bakelite can be easy if you know what to look for. Etsy has a surprisingly good range of Art Deco furniture, interior decor, art and prints, 1920s and 1930s fashion, accessories, jewellery and Bakelite… You can identify from the sound whether the piece you are buying is original or not. I've been a collector of Bakelite for a few years and I love my beautiful collection dearly but I don't think I'd wear it at all if it weren't affordable in my neck of the woods. A word of caution: avoid using the "hot pin" test, where a pin or needle warmed by a heat source is pressed into the plastic item. The heat from the water releases the formaldehyde-like scent of Bakelite. Great article! To test with Simichrome, sparingly apply a dab of the cream to a soft cloth and gently rub a small spot on the inside or back of the item being tested. It came into the limelight after various colors of Bakelite were introduced in the market. Consider the weight of a piece of plastic jewelry. If a piece is lacquered, it may test negative with 409. Try gently tapping two pieces of another type of plastic together, and compare the sound to two pieces of true Bakelite the next time you're out shopping where this type of plastic is on display. That wonderful clunky sound. Bakelite Handled Flatware This post contains affiliate links. Although sellers want us to think that Bakelite … If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just because your item isn’t Bakelite doesn’t mean it isn’t vintage or a worthwhile purchase. It’s important to know different ways to identify Bakelite jewelry, so … Which brings us to that eternal vintage jewelry lover’s question: how do you tell if it’s Bakelite, “fakelite”, or something else altogether? If it’s true Bakelite it should have a somewhat sweet old chemical smell to it similar to formaldehyde. If you love vintage and love living the vintage lifestyle, you’re in the right place. Bakelite jewelry became especially popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s, after a wider assortment of colors was introduced. Pamela is an antique expert and the author of three books on the subject. Think electrical insulators, distributor caps on cars, radio parts, telephones, etc. To test for authentic Bakelite with Simichrome, take a cotton swab or clean rag and dab a bit of polish on it. Your email address will not be published. This particular bracelet did turn out to be real Bakelite, with a 1998 retail value of $300 to $500. If a seller is honest about what they are selling, I find no reason not to enjoy these new products. I make my own Bakelite jewelry (with old Bakelite bits) and I want to ask if you know why the black Bakelite takes a while longer to "get smelly" and why it doesn't pass the Simichrome test. Bakelite is developed by the Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland in Yonkers, New York, in 1907. Griswold Cast Iron Cleaning and Seasoning, Classifying Antique, Vintage, and Collectible Jewelry, Action Figure Repair: Reshaping Bent Plastic, 11 Tips for Keeping Embroidery Clean and Protected, How to Do a Fabric Burn Test to Identify Fibers, Vintage Kitchen Tools and Gadgets as Collectibles, Top 4 Coin Grading and Authentication Services. Buy vintage plastics on the Bakelite … Bakelite jewelry from the Art Deco era - Which pieces to choose and how to identify genuine Bakelite. Similar to Bakelite, another popular mid-century resin material, it's become collectible in recent years. Also, keep in mind that Bakelite will not have mold seams that can be present in other types of plastic jewelry. You can do a Google search for “Bakelite testing pads” to find out where to buy. What's the Difference Between Bakelite and Catalin? Now smell it. This highly collectible jewelry became popular in the 1930s and was sold throughout the 1940s. Home / Jewelry Articles & Information / How to Identify and Test Vintage Bakelite Jewelry Bakelite was developed in the early 1900s but didn’t hit its stride for jewelry manufacturing purposes until the late 1920s through the early 1940s, when both money and the metals normally used in jewelry … If wood is present, it's best to stick to other methods of testing only the Bakelite portion of the piece—avoid immersing it in hot water. Bakelite or its cousin, Catalin, was used for lots more than jewelry. Black jewelry most likely made of one of the following: plastic, glass, stone, jet, gutta-percha, crepe stone, bog oak, and bakelite… Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Until you get very comfortable identifying Bakelite, however, it's good to employ more than one of these tests. She taught me to see the beauty in everyday items made to last. It was the initial plastic that was created using synthetic … Learn more in my follow-up post that covers the other vintage plastics. There are many forms of vintage plastics and resins that were used to create fabulous pieces of jewelry, purses, household items, and more. While originally used for industrial purposes it later found its way into the jewelry, radio & toy market. valuable plastic jewelry. I show the hot water method & simichrome method. How to you test if something is bakelite jewelry or buttons? If not, it’s something else. Bakelite bangle BEFORE professional polishing, Bakelite bangle AFTER professional polishing. The first two pictures are of the same bracelet before and after being professionally polished. These include newly polished or made items that do not have an aged patina, items that have been overdyed, and some black or red Bakelite items. 1k. If you feel a line running around the center of a bangle, it is not Bakelite. We’re here to help with that. It could be Bakelite, a synthetic compound developed in 1907 by Leo Baekeland, a Belgian-American chemist. That wonderful clunky sound. And thanks for the reminder about the seam. Some involve intricate carvings, overdyes, and laminates or inserts that were never seen in the past. But, there are some Bakelite items that will not test positive with Simichrome. If so, it’s Bakelite. Some older plastics like celluloid are very flammable, and a hot pin can be dangerous to not only the plastic but to you as well. There’s just something special about it, the colors, designs, feel, and that sound. Authentic bakelite jewelry can sell for thousands of dollars, so it's important you learn how to tell the difference between genuine and imposter plastic jewelry. You will often notice the heavier feel of Bakelite. Carvings: Because Bakelite is so durable, it’s easy to carve into so don’t be surprised to find bangles and other jewelry … Identifying Bakelite Smell: Experienced collectors can identify Bakelite … These easy-to-stow pads provide a similar result to Simichrome or the 409 method mentioned below, and have proven to be quite reliable. Another way of identifying Bakelite is with Simichrome polish which is a pink polish made for cleaning metals. Anyone who likes vintage jewelry knows the allure of Bakelite. It was originally created for use in the industrial world. Browse free vintage patterns, retro hair tutorials and affordable vintage clothing. Identifying what the black material is can make a big difference in determining when it was made and how much it could be worth. Learn the history of and how to identify vintage plastics such as bakelite, lucite, celluloid, and catalin jewelry, accessories, handbags, purses, pins, bangles, bracelets, necklaces, and more in the Collectics Reference & Education Program. Enjoy diy fashion crafts and classic style inspiration. Rub the item in question vigorously with your thumb until you feel the plastic heat up. Value of Old Plastic Jewelry There are two simple ways to tell a vintage piece from a later copy. Lucite is still used today in the production of some jewelry. We’re here to help with that. How to test for Bakelite plastic. Required fields are marked *. Bakelite testing pads are also an alternative to carrying a tube of Simichrome polish with you when you shop. Use all your senses in concert to help you determine whether or not an object you are examining is Bakelite. Costume jewelry is sometimes disregarded by jewelry lovers as lacking in quality, but even aficionados can appreciate the colorful forms of Bakelite jewelry.In fact, most vintage plastic jewelry is desirable because it reminds us of a time when jewelry designers really had fun – with motifs, colors, and bold styles.There's a whole world of vintage plastic beyond Bakelite… Run the piece under hot tap water. Hi Mary Ellen, Look at the gorgeous Bakelite Jewelry on Etsy! With plenty of reproductions on the market, it's wise to learn various methods to identify Bakelite rather than finding out afterward that you have made a costly mistake. Plain Bakelite jewelry is plentiful, but reproductions also abound. She's written over 400 articles on antique collecting for The Spruce Crafts. I’ll have to try the hot water method. One way to start learning about Bakelite identification is listening for the familiar "clunk" when two pieces you know to be Bakelite are tapped together. The later development of other plastics makes it sometimes hard to tell at first glance if an object is made from Bakelite or not. Also, look for tiny chips on the edges of carvings. If it is Bakelite, the swab will turn yellow. You'll need to do other tests to confirm, but this is a good point of departure. The easiest and safest way to test to identify Bakelite is the hot water test which is as simple as it sounds. Bakelite can also be tested using the “hot water” method. If you want to buy Bakelite jewelry or would like to verify an existing piece, follow these simple guides in identifying a Bakelite… Bakelite is easy to identify because it has a slick-looking patina to the inner part of the bangle or on the back part of a brooch or piece. I’ve tried the hot water method but with seasonal allergies, I lost my smell! Most of the early 19th century uses for Bakelite have fallen by the wayside, the demand for the vintage jewelry continues. With some practice, you'll learn to use all your senses to correctly identify Bakelite. There are many ways to test valuable Bakelite pieces, and several of them require using only your senses. Here’s an in-depth article titled  “Is it Bakelite?”  from Real or Repro, an informative resource offered by RubyLane. Bakelite. To use, dampen a cotton swab with 409 and rub it gently on the inside of the item being tested. The great majority of Bakelite jewelry was made by hand from stock shapes of raw material. I use LA’s Totally Awesome Cleaner (from the Dollar Store). However, there are many fabulous new items made to look like vintage bakelite. Vintage Unscripted is your source for vintage ideas, history, DIY, inspiration, decor, recipes and more. Bakelite jewelry… Thank you Anita! Is the area yellow? With pieces like the clip shown here, the wood may be damaged and discolored if it gets wet. Many types of plastic and resin have distinct smells. In the first half of the 20th century, Bakelite was used widely for game pieces, billiard balls, phones, jewelry, buttons and more. There are a number of wonderfully talented artists using old bakelite stock to create new items. There is something magical about Bakelite. Again, more testing will be required to confirm, but this is another good test to know when out shopping in the field. There’s just something special about it, the colors, designs, feel, and that sound. Examine the piece with a jeweler's loupe or another type of magnifier, if needed. Wholesale Bakelite gemstone jewelry. You can also use it to test Bakelite for authenticity, and this is the preferred method for many plastics collectors (although others prefer the hot water test mentioned above). And remember our motto: Friends don’t let friends buy fake vintage. Some great examples of artisan Bakelite pieces made from old stock include Brad Elfrink of Elvenkrafte Studios and Jorge Caicedo Montes De Oca of The Art of Bakelite. Rub your piece for a few seconds and take a look at your swab or rag. Bakelite was very rarely molded into individual pieces of finished jewelry. Your email address will not be published. I use the 409 method. It is a bit pricey but will last for a very long time. Some of my earliest memories are of digging through my Grandma's buttons, hankies, and jewelry. I've tried to get an answer in my books about Bakelite jewelry … As you mentioned, this method and the 409 method don’t always register a true result. I have also read about and heard that the Original Formula 409 spray cleaner works similarly to Simichrome polish. However, old Bakelite jewelry is still quite sought-after, and a lot of collectors are willing to pay large sums for the old, retro designs before the middle of the 20 th century.. That’s so both because of the novelty factor of it and the idea of collecting something with so much history in it, as well as the fact that Bakelite jewelry … Testing your plastic jewelry can involve a few different senses, including sight, smell, and feel. We buy and sell Shultz bakelite bangles, necklaces, bracelets and brooches. If it is Bakelite, the cloth should turn yellow with ease (although the color may vary from light to dark). So this one is going to be a bit of a learning curve. Scrubbing Bubbles was once the standard cleaner to use for Bakelite testing, but Formula 409 is now recommended instead. Vintage Bakelite earrings today. How to Identify and Price Vintage Bakelite Jewelry. Pam, Vintage Renude. Look for wear like scratches and patina that new pieces of plastic don't normally exhibit. Bakelite feels heavier when compared to some other types of plastics, like celluloid as one example. See them here.. IN your first two pictures at the top, are these different bracelets? Love learning about how to test for it. This test works well with bangle bracelets that are made entirely of Bakelite and is a very good way to confirm a piece once you get it home. 1–24 of 285 items. Hold another type of plastic you have identified in one hand, and a piece you know to be Bakelite of approximately the same size in the other. Collector’s Weekly, Vintage Bakelite Costume Jewelry Schaffer Books, Bakelite Lucite, Celluloid, and Catalan Information and Identification Wiggins, Pamela, 6 Ways to Identify Bakelite: Using Your … Simichrome Polish is a non-abrasive cream formulated to clean metals. If it gives off a formaldehyde smell, it is Bakelite. Bakelite jewelry will generally make a deep clunking sound when tapped together, unlike any other jewelry. There are a few simple tests that can answer your question. Curious about a flea market find? Tap two pieces of jewelry together One of the easiest and best ways to identify Bakelite jewelry is to tap two pieces together. One of the famous designers who made use of this is Coco Chanel. In this method, the piece of plastic is placed under very hot running tap water. These true artisans create both new and old designs of such high quality, they are well worth the price and will retain their value over time. But while this has proven an effective method of at-home testing, most consumers trying to verify vintage items don't have access to hot water when making buying decisions in the middle of a flea market. The best is yet to come! However, pieces purchased at antique stores or estate sales are usually in vintage styles and easy to identify when compared with modern jewelry … First, Bakelite and most of the other early plastics have a noticeable density and heft. The first quick thing to look for: Bakelite will never have mold or form markings on it. Look at my collections of Bakelite Jewelry and learn more. Get DIY project ideas and easy-to-follow crafts to help you spruce up your space. Sort By: SHULTZ bakelite black spacer bangle with multi-colored dots $ 128.00 Buy Now; SHULTZ bakelite … Second, Bakelite … Black Bakelite pieces often fail this test as well. Use the other tests above, especially the hot water test, to confirm authenticity if a piece you strongly suspect to be Bakelite fails with 409. Anyone who likes vintage jewelry knows the allure of Bakelite. It's one of the first plastics made from formaldehyde resin. Consider the weight of a piece of plastic jewelry. However … Continue reading "How to Identify Bakelite … Amazing difference isn’t it! Click here for extra reference information about Shultz bakelite. Identifying by Weight. Following up with the hot water test when you get home is an option to consider. Generally, an old piece of Bakelite will exhibit some minor scratching and wear, even though it is in excellent condition by a collector's standards and may be quite valuable. Buyer beware. There are online sellers who sell Bakelite testing pads that you can purchase and carry with you to test items before you purchase. 10 More Vintage Words Used to Describe Antiques and Vintage, Things We Liked This Week (7/8/18 – 7/14/18), 6 Fabulous Ideas for Repurposing Vintage Doilies, 10 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in a Pandemic, How to Use Vintage Christmas Decor Safely, Vintage Christmas Linens: Collecting, Using and Caring for them, Found Vintage Story: Antique Sleigh Bells. Widely considered the first synthetic plastic, Bakelite items are a hot commodity today among collectors of vintage jewelry and mechanical parts. It can be purchased online and it works well as a way to test most Bakelite. Some folks well-versed in Bakelite identification recommend the hot water test as the standard when it comes to accurately identifying this form of plastic. Bakelite feels heavier when … Bakelite is an item a jewelry collector should keep an eye out for considering how prices have risen over the last few decades. Once you know that distinctive smell,  you will never forget it. Then, before it cools, take a whiff. Another note regarding Bakelite. Photo credit: Vintage Jewelry Online What are some identifying features? The new batch of Bakelite colors captured the imagination of more and more jewelry … How to Identify Bakelite. Just place your item in hot water (not boiling) for about 15 seconds. Identifying bakelite isn’t hard although it takes a bit of learning. I see it in antique shops and flea markets and the colors are scrumptious! This very distinctive sound is often heard when two or more bangles made of this popular plastic are worn at the same time. A distinct chemical odor similar to formaldehyde will linger with most genuine Bakelite. Bakelite's unique properties lent itself … Shultz bakelite Jewelry. Bakelite was discovered in 1909 by a New York chemist Belgian-born Dr. Leo Hendrik Baekeland. Black Bakelite pieces often fail this test as well. Again, you may need to employ more than one test to rule out a false positive (or negative) result. A quick word about “fakelite”: There are many unscrupulous sellers out there passing off newly manufactured items that resemble Bakelite but are not. Today I want to talk about how to identify and collect Lucite. As I have not personally tried it, it’s not something I can vouch for. How to Identify Bakelite Jewelry If you are a collector of Bakelite jewelry, or just enjoy wearing it occasionally, it is important to identify Bakelite jewelry from the many imitations that are available. Vintage Rosen Diy Vintage Vintage Pins Vintage Style 1920s Style Vintage Buttons Walmart Jewelry Jewelry Stores Vintage Costume Jewelry. This often takes a bit of practice, but it works well for many people while out shopping. Article by Va-Voom Vintage. Weight: Bakelite is lightweight, so anything heavy should raise a red flag. If a piece is lacquered, it may test negative. Identifying bakelite isn’t hard although it takes a bit of learning. Bakelite or its cousin, Catalin, was used for lots more than jewelry. Vintage Bakelite scrubbing Bubbles was once the standard when it comes to accurately identifying this form plastic... Inserts that were never seen in the 1930s and was sold throughout 1940s... Credit: vintage jewelry online what are some Bakelite items are a number wonderfully! … Shultz Bakelite bangles, necklaces, bracelets and brooches have fallen by Belgian-American... There ’ s just something special about it, it may test negative for the vintage,. 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Seller is honest about what they are selling, i find no reason to! A 1998 retail value of $ 300 to $ 500 the famous designers who made use of this is Chanel... Made and how much it could be Bakelite, the colors, designs, feel, and laminates or that... Other early plastics have a somewhat sweet old chemical smell to it to!, like celluloid as one example not personally tried it, it 's one the... Jewelry was made by hand from stock shapes of raw material normally exhibit wood may be damaged and discolored it... York chemist Belgian-born Dr. Leo Hendrik Baekeland, and several of them require only! You to test to know when out shopping in how to identify bakelite jewelry right place, radio & market!

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