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Why is Bakelite so expensive?

3 min read

Asked by: Victoria Pace

Rarity and desirability are some of the reasons Bakelite is so expensive. It’s also highly collectible. If you have a piece of Bakelite jewelry and are wondering how much it’s worth, it’s a good idea to compare it to recently sold items in a similar style.

Why was Bakelite discontinued?

Bakelite applications in conservation were discontinued in the 1940s because of certain disadvantages that soon became apparent. The lack of records and relevant information precludes any assumption on the extent of its use and in which institutions.

What was so special about Bakelite?

Like many modern plastics, Bakelite was lightweight and durable, and it could be molded into nearly infinite shapes, so its use quickly expanded as manufacturers realized its potential.

What is the most valuable Bakelite?

But the most collectible types of Bakelite bangles are the so-called Philadelphia bracelets, which take their name from a Philadelphia auction in 1985 that featured two of these remarkable pieces. Philadelphia bracelets are always laminated in colors that include green, red, and yellow.

How do you tell if Bakelite is real?

Using Formula 409 Cleaner



To use, dampen a cotton swab with 409 and rub it gently on the inside of the item being tested. If it is Bakelite, the swab will turn yellow. If a piece is lacquered, it may test negative with 409. Black Bakelite pieces often fail this test as well.

Is Bakelite worth money?

No matter what type of piece you have, genuine Bakelite jewelry is worth money. Many simple necklaces and bracelets sell for $100 or less, but more elaborate designs with multiple colors or intricate carving can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Do people still make Bakelite?

Bakelite stock is still manufactured and produced in sheet, rod and tube form for industrial applications in the electronics, power generation and aerospace industries, and under a variety of commercial brand names.

Does Bakelite glow under black light?

It doesn’t fluoresce. You get a surface reflection but no reaction. The Fluorescence is generally a muddy green color.

Is Bakelite always shiny?

It consists of a piece of Bakelite as a base, whether a bangle bracelet or a brooch, that has a metal “clad” over the plastic. The metal can have a copper, silver, or golden hue although most likely some type of shiny alloy rather than actual gold, copper, or silver.

How can you tell the difference between Bakelite and celluloid?

Bakelite will emit a smell like formaldehyde when placed under hot water. Bakelite is a sturdy material and is heavier than Celluloid. Bakelite is denser and heavier than Celluloid. Hold two pieces of jewelry in your hands and compare the weight.

Does Bakelite smell like vinegar?

A good casual/simple test is to rub a finger rapidly across the surface of the jewelry generating a little friction/heat. Bakelite will smell like formaldehyde; celluloid will smell like mothballs/pinesap/vinegar (it’s made with camphor); and Lucite has no smell.

How can you tell ivory from Bakelite?


You could look at it from two different angles. And from one angle it will have parallel lines and sort of on the side at another angle you might see a crosshatch pattern.