Remember the old Lays potato chips ad, the one that said, betcha can’t eat just one? The same goes for Bakelite bracelets…betcha can’t wear just one!
Quick primer: Bakelite is a highly collectible early plastic. It was made in lovely colors and has a rich luster that deepens over time. Bakelite can be cut and polished, which led to its use in all sorts of creative and whimsical jewelry.
My customers who collect and wear Bakelite love to put on lots of bangles at once, wrist to mid forearm, stacking them up in multiples on one or both arms. They enjoy matching or contrasting the bangles with their outfit, playing with color and getting creative with their collection.
It looks like this (jaunty hand on hip pose optional):
No doubt about it, nothing equals the depth and richness of vintage Bakelite. It’s fabulous.
However, collecting lots and lots of Bakelite, enough to have an armful of different colors to go with each outfit, can be a daunting proposition. Finding the pieces you love and collecting them bracelet by bracelet can take years. A big collection can also set you back a sum equal to the cost of a good used car.
There is an option. Enter Bakelite’s younger (and some might say sassier) cousin, lucite. They are both plastics but, generally speaking, bakelite had its heyday before WW2, lucite after.
Like bakelite, lucite was made in lots of colors, shapes, and sizes. Some are marbled, some have a gorgeous iridescence and others are laminated stacks of color. Unlike bakelite, some lucite bracelets are embedded with shells, glitter and confetti.
Here are some lucite bangles I have in the shop right now:
Here are two great tips I’ve learned from customers that apply to both bakelite and lucite:
- When putting on a bangle, slip a silky scarf over your hand and wrist. Your bracelet will slide on easily right over the scarf.
- Store your collection in satin quilted vintage lingerie boxes. These are just the right size to protect and display these treasures. Then, mix. match and contrast with abandon.