how to identify vintage plastic jewelry
If the piece is vintage Bakelite, the accumulated patina will show up as a yellow stain on the cotton swab. Many of the styles you've probably heard about -- Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Retro -- originated during the early 1900s and are considered antique. We do not sell antique jewelry, which is defined as at least 100 years old. These pieces can sometimes be as valuable as pieces of fine jewelry. Rinse the cleaner off the tested spot right away. - Bakelite is a castable, fire resistant plastic that was invented by Leo Baekeland in 1909. That name doesn’t appear in my reference books’ sections listing known trade names for vintage celluloid, so it’s probably not that. It comes in virtually every hue, in both transparent and solid forms. Instead, each piece had to be hand-cast and then carved, buffed and polished. I decided I needed to educated myself a bit and was fortunate to find your excellent article. Characteristics: Heavier than celluloid and the cellulostics, but lighter than the phenolics/bakelite. The images on this blog are displayed only for the purposes of providing information, research, criticism or commentary and are the property of their original owners and/or creators. In 1915 Arlington was bought by E.I. So let’s get started learning about vintage jewelry hardware. If the bead feels light, it's more likely to be plastic than glass. - chantikjewels.wordpress.com - Vintage Bakelite Jewelry - *HOW TO IDENTIFY BAKELITE JEWELRY By Carly Wickell - *What is Bakelite? It was originally used for industrial purposes, until jewelry makers found that its light weight made Bakelite a perfect choice… However, if sufficient heat is applied to any part of it – and that could be as high a temperature as boiling water or as low as 140F from tap water or being left in the sun – it will soften again. That’s an interesting suggestion, Mary, and I may do that at a later date. However, pieces purchased at antique stores or estate sales are usually in vintage styles and easy to identify when compared with modern jewelry styles. It is a thermoplastic which has very little heat resistance; pieces will be damaged by the use of a ‘hot point’ test and sometimes even by contact with very hot tap water. A few years ago a friend tipped me off to the fact that the “Awesome Cleaner” sold at Dollar Tree will remove verdigris from vintage metal costume jewelry; one wonders how many other handy ‘secrets’ their other products may hold. As long as the back/bottom of the tile piece is white, you’re good to go. Does NOT have mold marks because it could not be molded; thus it can be either solid or laminated but never hollow. Study the style of the jewelry. 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. 409 -an all purpose household cleaner, used the same way as Simichrome. You can identify a bead's substance with a few simple tests. Often oval shaped, the long hook was inserted and locked into place. It is fun and interesting to try and has really helped me to identify Bakelite. The best way to avoid the new pieces is with a careful examination and to know the differences which exist between reproductions and the originals. The idea behind its development was to compete with celluloid on safety (urea is non-flammable) and with the cellulostics in color range. - chantikjewels.wordpress.com - Vintage Bakelite Jewelry - *HOW TO IDENTIFY BAKELITE JEWELRY By Carly Wickell - *What is Bakelite? However, if a heat test for odor is used, cellulostics produce a vinegar-y smell due to the presence of acetic acid. Other vintage plastics have a distinct odor: Bakelite will smell highly acidic. For example, on page 13 of “20th Century Plastic Jewelry” there’s a 1931 ad for faux pearls made of cellulose acetate by Richelieu. Clasps are an important element in identifying Haskell pieces. So if it’s ‘Pyralin’ it isn’t French; actually there was only one French manufacturer of note. Widely considered the first synthetic plastic, Bakelite items are a hot commodity today among collectors of vintage jewelry and mechanical parts. Juliana jewelry was not signed, but was sold with a hangtag. Dunk a small portion of the bracelet in the water for a couple of seconds. Here are some clues that a rhinestone piece is not a modern take on this classic style: It's not plastic. For this reason, sellers will often identify their jewelry as "D&E Juliana" Jewelry. The front is pretty, but the back tells the story. Bakelite jewelry will generally make a deep clunking sound when tapped together, unlike any other jewelry. Urea plastics are probably the culprit when people remark on “cheap plastic junk jewelry”! I’ve read that black bakelite often will not react to the standard tests. Swirl effects were common. You definitely don't want to pay real jewelry prices for fakes, either. If the piece of jewelry in question seems to glow, it is probably vintage "moonglow" Lucite. Because of this, it can be difficult to obtain authentic carvings, jewelry or other ivory pieces. Thank you for all the awesome information! As with most vintage jewelry, you need to look at the back of the piece. 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). It was formed into sheets of various thicknesses, rods, and blocks. Change ). 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 Content! Thus a thermoplastic is a substance that can and will become soft and malleable again (or damaged) via the application of heat. Get the best deals on Antique Bakelite & Vintage Plastic Costume Jewelry when you shop the largest online selection at eBay.com. Most of the early 19th century uses for Bakelite have fallen by the wayside, the demand for the vintage jewelry continues. On second glance, I knew I needed to get my glasses and a better lamp. 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!) 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”. Real diamonds have unique characteristics: • Breathe on a clean diamond. You’ll notice that I’ve only capitalized two of those names and there’s a reason for that. You can see many of these designs in the book Juliana Jewelry Reference on pages 126-128 and 223-227. Unfortunately, there’s no sure/safe way restore the original clarity of a yellowed vintage clear plastic. The following is an introduction to the plastics and an identification guide. The setting looks vintage. , 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? But you’re right: beads and jewelry etc from the 1980s have a slightly different chemical makeup from the “old” stuff… but probably only a chemist would care about the difference between MMA (methyl methacrylate, which was the original composition) and PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), LOL. It is much harder to tell the origin of a solid color Lucite. amazing Compared to back in the 80s when I first started collecting. Jewelry she was born in 1880 My Grandmother was born in 1900 and I would like to know what I have. Part 1: Vintage Jewelry Marks: Help for Dating Your Vintage Jewelry Part 2: Silver Jewelry Marks: Learn to Identify and Date Silver Jewelry Part 3: Vintage Jewelry Patents: Find and Use them to Date Vintage Jewelry. The formula itself was developed in the very early 1900s and can be subdivided into “molded” and “cast” categories. Identify the Differences Between Real and Fake Diamonds at Home Before You Buy. 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. Thanks ever so much. The jewelry was made popular by entertainers such as Carmen Miranda. Box by box, strand by strand, bead by bead, we began sorting and identifying our beads. 1. This is another way to test the authenticity of the plastic. 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). 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. ( Log Out / Dip a cotton swab in 409 household cleaner and touch a small area of the piece, such as a back that won't be visible when worn. Indian beaded jewelry is often mistaken for Native American. After that, you’ll receive an email notification whenever a new post is added to the site. 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. This last property led to its widespread use on warplane windows and canopies instead of the much heavier glass. Many times antique dealers can identify vintage plastics by sight alone. It could be opaque, translucent or transparent. The noted German jewelry maker Jakob Bengel particularly favored the combination of Galalith and chrome for his “machine age” 1930s designs. Identifying Out In The Field . Look for contrasting colored bits spread throughout an opaque design. , especially when it comes to an early plastic called celluloid style is sign! 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