Jewelry has been an important way to accessorize for humans for thousands of years. They are a way to stand out from the crowd and to express oneself. They come in many different shapes and sizes.
For many years jewelry has been made from various materials. The most common of these materials are metals such as gold, silver, and brass.
Over the years, technology has improved, and different materials have been invented which can be used in the making of jewelry.
Some of these materials are Bakelite and plastic; both are forms of plastic. This article will look at these two materials and what makes them best for jewelry.
What is Bakelite jewelry?
This type of jewelry was invented in the 1900s by a chemist named Dr. Baekeland Leo with the help of other scientists. The jewelry was made from a form of plastic called phenolic plastic, which was popular in the 1930s.
Most of the pieces of jewelry made during this period were mostly plain colored with no king of engraving. The material was used to make earrings and bangles, which were popular among women in that period. They sacked several bangles on one arm, producing a unique sound when they made contact with each other.
Back when they were new to the market, the most sought-after bangles were the ones that had a multicolor scheme on them and also featured polka dots. However, these bangles did not come cheaply.
Today they are highly sought out by collectors who value them as art pieces. However, they come with a hefty price tag that most collectors are unwilling to part with. This makes most beginner collectors go for cheaper mute-colored bangles.
Other collectors preferred marbled pieces, which were in many circumstances referred to as “end of day” back in the day. This is because they were made at the end of a working day by mixing all the different colored batches to make a marbled look.
In recent years modern artisans have been trying to breathe life into old radio cases by turning them into Bakelite jewelry. Even though they use old materials, they use new techniques that give the final piece an exquisite look. However, working with Bakelite is very dangerous as the dust it produces when being cut is very dangerous when inhaled.
Over the years, many people have come up with fakes that might imitate the original Bakelite to some extent. Still, you should do extensive research before buying any Bakelite jewelry to avoid these fakes.
What materials are used in Bakelite jewelry
I am sure many of you are wondering what material Bakelite is; however, unlike many think, Bakelite is not a material; rather, it is the name of the corporation that sells these jewelry pieces, Bakelite Corporation.
The company uses various combined materials to give the jewelry all the characteristics it is well known for. For the Bakelite jewelry that they produce at their plant, they use a mixture of formaldehyde and phenol, which are both forms of plastic.
The two main ingredients are mixed with other materials to give it all the necessary characteristics and are poured into molds which form roughed-out shapes of the finished product. After cooling, the pieces of jewelry are demolded and taken to artisans.
The artisans polish the pieces of jewelry and fine-tune all the details that have been incorporated into the jewelry. It is this hand-finished aspect that makes the Bakelite jewelry stand out from its plastic counterparts.
Pros of Bakelite jewelry
- A lot of attention is paid to detailing.
- They come in various designs and shapes.
- They are heat resistant and hence cannot be damaged by heat.
- It is lightweight.
Cons of Bakelite jewelry
- It is more expensive than plastic.
- It has many imitations or fakes.
What is plastic jewelry?
As the name goes, these are jewelry pieces that are made from plastic. When Bakelite jewelry grew in popularity, many people wanted to benefit from the profits that came from selling these pieces of jewelry.
As a result, this led to the invention of plastic jewelry. Because Bakelite corporation had patented its formula for making its jewelry, this meant that other manufacturers could not imitate it. Since plastic was readily available, they decided to make jewelry out of plastic.
Plastics come in various different forms, but basically, it is a polymer that is made up of a wide variety of semi-synthetic and synthetic materials.
Plastic has properties that allow it to take different forms, which gives it a wide array of uses in today’s world, making it replace the more conventional materials used.
There are various types of plastics that are used in the world. They all have different properties that make them best suited for various purposes.
For jewelry making, different manufacturers use different types of plastics depending on the finish they want their jewelry to have.
What materials are used in plastic jewelry
Plastic jewelry is made of various types of plastic. Since the manufacturers of plastic jewelry are many around the world, this makes them choose different forms of plastics to make their jewelry.
But some of the most commonly used ones are; high-density polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polypropylene.
Pros of plastic jewelry
- They are cheap.
- They can be found easily.
- They do not have many fakes.
- Plastic can be formed into various different shapes and sizes.
Cons of plastic jewelry
- They lack uniqueness.
Differences between Bakelite jewelry and plastic jewelry
First, the material used in making Bakelite jewelry allows it to be fire-resistant and lightweight in nature. While on the other hand, plastic jewelry is very flammable and can degrade when they are exposed to UV light.
Secondly, Bakelite jewelry is produced in a different manner. They are cast into molds, but skilled artisans put the finishing touches on the jewelry, such as polishing hence making each piece of jewelry unique.
On the other hand, plastic jewelry is mass-produced, making all the jewelry alike.
Bakelite jewelry is made from a plastic whose chemical structure is made of a series of repeating polymers, making it strong and fire resistant, while the structure of the plastic has a series of repeating monomers.
Bakelite jewelry vs. plastic jewelry- which one is better?
Bakelite jewelry is better than plastic jewelry because they have better properties than plastic. They are resistant to both fire and UV light, making the stay for long.
Each Bakelite piece of jewelry is hand-finished, making each piece of jewelry have its own personality and a superior finish.
Both Bakelite and plastic jewelry are good ways to accessorize, depending on the individual needs and capabilities; both of them have good properties that make them perfect for jewelry.
However, if you want a piece of jewelry that will last long, Bakelite jewelry would be best suited for you.
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Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.