Vintage Bakelite Jewelry - How to Test for Authenticity

Have you seen the amazing Bakelite pieces Candice hand picked from an Estate recently? These hand selected brooches, bangles and necklaces are from the estate of a retired school teacher that obviously had excellent taste. Lucky you! Some of them are available for sale on our website and have already been authenticated by experts in early plastic. Take a look HERE

Bakelite was a revolutionary man made phenolic resin invented in 1907 that was lightweight, durable and could be made in a variety of colors for endless applications. It was a popular material that was made into Jewelry, Buttons, Telephone Cases, Radios and more. 

Here are a few classic ways to test Bakelite for authenticity:

  1. The "Hot Water" smell test - Dip your item into hot water or create friction on the item by rubbing it on a piece of clothing to create some heat. Authentic Bakelite will have a chemical smell of formaldehyde. 
  2. The Weight Test - Bakelite should feel heavy and substantial for its size. 
  3.  The Sound Test - Have you ever heard that delicious sound a stack of Bakelite bangles make? Well, sound is actually a good hint if you have true vintage Bakelite or not. When gently tapping tow pieces of Bakelite together you should hear a deeper clunk rather than a clink. 
  4. The Simichrome Polish - for this method of testing you will want to take a small amount of polish on a cotton swab and rub it into a test spot on the item. Ex. a bracelet on the inside, brooch on the back etc. If the cotton swab turns a deep tan/tobacco brown you just might have Bakelite on your hands!
  5. The 409 Test - spray a small amount of 409 onto a cotton swab and rub it into a test spot on the item. Ex. a bracelet on the inside, brooch on the back etc. If the cotton swab turns a yellow tone you know its the real deal. 
  6. The Baking Soda Test - Dip a cotton swab into baking soda and rub it into a test spot on the item. Ex. a bracelet on the inside, brooch on the back etc. If the cotton swab turns a yellow tone you have a positive test.

Keep in mind there are many other testing methods available and you should always do more than one test to confirm authenticity. The easy ones to start with are sight, sound, smell but having a Simichrome or 409 test show a visual color change which is always assuring. 

We apologize in advance if you are led down the rabbit hole of searching for exquisite Bakelite in all forms!

 

 

 

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published