Antique Bakelite Bangle - Yellow

Why is Bakelite jewelry so expensive?

The Most Valuable Bakelite: Dotted, Heavy and Deep Carving. While Bakelite jewelry is highly sought after, it's the heavier, deeper carvings on these pieces that significantly boost their value.

Rarity and desirability are two factors that contribute to a Bakelite piece's value. With most jewelry made from Bakelite in the 1930s, the designs were unique and no two pieces are exactly alike. A simple necklace from the 1930s may look completely different from one sold today.

A Bakelite ring can fetch over $100 and more substantial pieces, such as a necklace from the 30’s and 40’s, may sell for nearly $2,000 at a reputable dealer. While Bakelite has been out of mainstream use since the 1960s, its classic look is revered by vintage Bakelite jewelry collectors.

Bakelite jewelry is a highly sought-after collectible. Pieces that can be found at pawnshops or in antique shops are easy to spot. They are usually brown, black or even sometimes yellow in color. When in good condition, Bakelite jewelry has a sparkling, waxy sheen on it. The pieces from the 1930s resemble those found today; however, they can typically be distinguished by their color and smoother feel due to the material used back then being more solid than it is today.

Bakelite has been used throughout the 20th century as a material for colored plastics. Bakelite is a form of phenolic resin that was invented by Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland in 1907. Baekeland, who worked with his father in a chemicals company, let a mixture containing formaldehyde out of its container, which proceeded to harden into a tough and resilient plastic. He named the new material Bakelite, after one of its key ingredients. Bakelite was the first modern molded synthetic plastic. At the time, most synthetic jewelry forms were poured liquid which could warp and be very fragile once dry. Bakelite's versatility made it popular for use in jewelry as well as an alternative to natural materials like ivory--especially in Art Deco designs.

In conclusion, the more rare and unusual your Bakelite piece is, the more valuable. The condition of its manufacture also plays a part. For example, The most valuable Bakelite would be the scarce Zig Zag pattern, where the dots run from top to bottom. I am not sure how early this is. The rules of valuing Bakelite state that rarity (a factor) x desirability (another factor) = value. In other words, if there is little or no demand for a specific Bakelite item by collectors, it may have very little value.

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