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All About Lucite: Collecting, Wearing and Loving this Vintage Plastic

Monday, November 25, 2013


lucite brooch, earring and bangle collection  how to identify lucite vs bakelite
I've been a collector of Bakelite for a few years and I love my beautiful collection dearly but I don't think I'd wear it at all if it weren't affordable in my neck of the woods.

Although sellers want us to think that Bakelite is so rare and amazing, it really isn't rare at all. Go to a vintage show, scroll through Ebay, look at the collections of hundreds, thousands of bangles and tell me it's rare. It's everywhere and there's a lot of it!  The price of Bakelite is like the price of diamonds. It goes up because the desire goes up. We all want to be the girl with Bakelite stacked to her elbows. It's a status symbol. Why? Because our vintage community created it!


The Lucite Secret
I think that the best kept vintage secret out there is Lucite. But wait, that bangle is Bakelite...isn't it?

lucite bakelite carved bracelet look alike


I recently bought a lot of 6 Lucite bangles on ebay and even my skilled eye wondered if they could be Bakelite, especially the carved one but no! They're Lucite- 6 for $30.

lucite bakelite look alike applejuice rootbeer bangles

 some are swirled or translucent just like applejuice or rootbeer bakelite

dotted lucite bangle
 some look like those very expensive dotted bakelite bracelets

opaque luite chunky bangle bakelite look alike
        some are chunky and beautifully opaque

With Lucite, you can get the look of colorful, unique Bakelite bangles for much less. Lucite comes in all colors, shapes, sizes and some are even embedded with shells, glitter and confetti.

odd shaped lucite bangles


confetti lucite collection with glitter, flowers embedded and seashells


Some other desirable Lucite pieces are called "Moonglow" because they look like they're glowing, like these earrings:

how to spot moonglow lucite


lucite confetti clamper bracelet


The price of Lucite clamper bracelets like this one are quickly rising due to demand created by lusty vintage girls. Honestly, mine drives me crazy because it pinches (and I have small wrists!) and I've had to have Pj fix the spring dozens of times after it breaks. It's very pretty so I save it for special occasions only.

Here's an example of solid Lucite, which was frequently shaped and added to metal settings of earrings, bracelets, brooches and necklaces. Matching sets of Lucite are much loved in the vintage world.

vintage lucite earrings how to identify lucite

Lucite doesn't patina like Bakelite so you never have to pay extra to have it polished to get the vibrant or translucent rainbow of colors. They're quite heavy and durable. Some are marbled just like Bakelite and some have a gorgeous iridescence like these bangles.

irridescent lucite bangles how to identify lucite vs bakelite

 Any vintage loving girl can build an enviable collection of Lucite bangles and still pay her electric bill.

What is Lucite
Like Bakelite, Lucite is a thermoset plastic. Some people sell Lucite jewelry with kind of a moon glow sheen and call it "Thermoset", like these earrings:

what is thermoset lucite


 In my early days of vintage I thought that thermoset was different from Lucite but it is actually the same thing. Thermoset simply means that you cannot melt it down and shape it into something else once it's set.

Lucite is an acrylic plastic that was popular in jewelry in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Most vintage Lucite bangles will not have seams. They are usually shinier than Bakelite and will not smell of formaldehyde when run under hot water and unless someone is sniffing your wrist, they'll never know it's not pricey Bakelite!

With holiday sales going crazy this weekend, keep an eye out for affordable Lucite treats for yourself.

lucite jewelry collection how to identify lucite


Also read:
How to Identify Bakelite
How to Make a Lucite Initial Brooch


For more vintage Lucite, check my Pinterest board, Lucite Dreams

Do you collect Lucite? If so, please post a link to your lovely collection in the comments below!




12 Responses to “All About Lucite: Collecting, Wearing and Loving this Vintage Plastic”

  1. Love this blog post! A gal after my own heart! I have to say I prefer my Lucite, as someone on a budget, I'm like you I have some Lucite earrings and bangles that look very close to Bakelite!

    I love clamper bangles, but alas haven't managed to find one in my price range as yet! Although a friend from the USA sent me some amazing seashell luxulite earrings!

    My favourite shop for amazing repro lucite and bakelite look-a-likes is definitely etsy.com/luxulite

    xox

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  2. Nice post!!!! I hate to see bakelite bangles for $300... that's absolutly CRAZY! Personally, I don't care if it's plastic, lucite or bakelite, that must be pretty, that's all!!!!

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  3. The matching blue earrings are stunning! Very jealous!

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  4. A great post, I love to see lucite with rhinestones:) You've got a beautiful collection:) I can't see spending hundreds for a Bakelite bracelet when you can get something similar in Lucite for $10.

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  5. Thanks for this post, fun & I learned something. I have a few lucite vintage pins but only one bracelet...so far.

    :) Pam

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  6. I recently purchased my first bakelite on eBay. I wouldn't have ever bought any if it weren't cheap, and I wanted to get some just to know how to tell what it was. I totally agree that most people won't have a clue, and really who cares? To me, it's the finished look/outfit that overall effect that accessories add to, and I don't care what's on your arms or how much it costs. And I love lucite, especially lucite brooches <3

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  7. Ooooo nooooo! I have been loving and collecting lucite for about 15 years, and now you have ruined it all, because now all the vintage girls will buy lucite and the price will go up. ;) I'm especially in love with confetti lucite, and have ear clips in all, and I mean all, colours. Great article as always, dear. :)

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    Replies
    1. LOL! I -wish- I was that much of a trend-setter! :P I think your collection is the most amazing I've ever seen!!

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  8. This is such a thoroughly awesome post! I love (underline that a hundred times) that you came right out and said, listen folks, Bakelite is not the rarest thing on earth by any stretch of the imagination. I've thought that so many times, too. Yes, some pieces, colours, styles and designers are rarer than others for sure, but in general (especially in the US), there's no shortage of Bakelite.

    I adore lucite, too. The first vintage bangle I remember buying years upon years ago was lucite and I've been devoted to it ever since. It sometimes retails for nearly as much as Bakelite here in Canada (in vintage/antique shops) in recent years, but luckily it's still easier to find (than Bakelite) at thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets and the like, so I've not often paid retail for it (though I certainly would, if the price was reasonable and I really loved a piece).

    Again, top notch post, honey. I enjoyed it immensely!

    ♥ Jessica

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