From the early 1950s comes this beautiful vintage Art Deco laminated root beer swirl Bakelite and ivory-colored Celluloid bangle bracelet and earrings set. Yes, that’s right — two early plastics in one costume jewelry set!
The bangle has two sections of the heavily marbled, semi-translucent root beer swirl Bakelite and two sections of ivory-colored Celluloid laminated together. Great contrast in color and material. The earrings follow a similar pattern but have slight octagonal shapes. They are for pierced ears with post and clip closure.
Please note only the root beer swirl sections are made of Bakelite, and that tested positive for Bakelite with Simichrome. Condition is estate excellent with minimal wear, free of chips, cracks or deep scratches. One of the earring posts swivels a little but works well.
For those unfamiliar with Bakelite, it is one of the first plastics made from synthetic components. Bakelite was used for its electrical nonconductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings, and such diverse products as kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, and children's toys. In 1993. Bakelite was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in recognition of its significance as the world's first synthetic plastic. The "retro" appeal of old Bakelite products and labor-intensive manufacturing has made them collectible in recent years.
Celluloid, on the other hand, is a plastic that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century to the 1930s. Celluloid is one of the earliest man-made plastics widely used in costume jewelry. Celluloid has certain characteristics that differentiate it from other plastics. In general, pieces made from Celluloid tend to be thin, light, somewhat brittle, sensitive to heat (they crack and craze), and early Celluloid can be extremely flammable (do not ever test with a hot pin!). When placed briefly in hot water, early Celluloid smells like camphor, while later cellulose acetate smells like vinegar. Celluloid jewelry should be stored carefully.
For those seeking a rare Art Deco jewelry set that combines two of the earliest man-made plastics is an ideal find. It would make for a wonderful gift as well for a special occasion.