Monday, September 30, 2013

Lucite and Bakelite

I have yet to meet an “ite” I did not like. I love Lucite and Bakelite jewelry, having amassed a small collection of each. My fascination with Bakelite began with some bracelets I bought in New York City, including the Art Deco style shown here. The public’s fascination with Bakelite began in 1907, when Bakelite helped usher in what is known, among chemists, as the Polymer Age or the Age of Plastics.  
Here is another Art Deco bracelet I own; note the faux bamboo styling. Bamboo was all the rage in the 1930s, due in part to its popular use in the Hollywood Regency style of home decor. On the heels of Bakelite, in 1931, the clear, manmade synthetic we call Lucite was developed by DuPont. Around the same time the Rohm & Haas Chemical Company also discovered this chemical compound and called it Plexiglas. While Plexiglas had broader commercial success, Lucite is what we talk about when referring to vintage jewelry and, in 1952, handbags. 
One of my favorite kinds of Lucite is that which includes tiny particles inside; it is called “confetti Lucite.” Here is a set of confetti Lucite bracelet and earrings, currently offered at for $75; the pieces contain tiny seashells and gold confetti. 
This bathing beauty brooch made of silver glitter confetti Lucite is now available at for $75. And I want it. 
This pair of vintage 1950s glitter confetti Lucite screw earrings is currently for sale on Ebay. Confetti Lucite was hugely popular in the 1950s and that makes sense: It surely seems definitive of the decade of full skirts, big cars and exuberance of all stripes.


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