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How to Check for the Authenticity of Bakelite Jewelry

How to Check for the Authenticity of Bakelite Jewelry
Antique authentic Bakelite jewelry can add great value to a collection. But how do you know whether it is really Bakelite, and not its lookalike? Here are some easy-to-perform Bakelite jewelry tests, in this Fashionhance article.
Deepa Karandikar
Leo Baekeland, a Belgian-born American chemist, invented Bakelite in 1907, in an attempt to find a replacement for shellac (a resin made from the secretion of female lac bugs).

With regards to the heat and electrical resistance of Bakelite, it was used as an electrical insulator, and to make the bodies of radio and telephone sets. Then, people started to find ways to manufacture Bakelite in brights colors, and this ushered in a production of an array of ornamental objects made from it, including jewelry. These days, other plastics have superseded the use of Bakelite in many items, because of its brittle nature and the complicated production procedure. However, various antique pieces of Bakelite, especially jewelry, are collected by many people. But before buying this kind of vintage jewelry, you should know whether it is really Bakelite. You can either ask the seller to perform some tests before buying, or if you already own such jewelry, you can do them yourself at home to unearth the truth.
How to Identify Bakelite Jewelry at Home
Bakelite is produced as a result of a reaction known as the elimination reaction of phenol and formaldehyde. It has certain distinctive characteristics because of these constituents, that we have to make use of while distinguishing the real material from the fake.
Using Simichrome Polish, Formula 409 Cleaner, Scrubbing Bubbles
This is a sure-shot chemical test that you can perform to authenticate your Bakelite jewelry. Use either Simichrome Polish, Formula 409 Cleaner, or Scrubbing Bubbles for this. Drop a few pieces of any one of this solution on a piece of clean cotton cloth or swab, and rub it on the interior portion of the specimen. Genuine Bakelite will make the cotton cloth or swab turn yellow.
Formaldehyde imparts a distinctive smell to Bakelite plastic
When you swiftly rub authentic Bakelite jewelry with your hand, and it gets warmer, and then you smell it, you will find it giving out a distinctive odor that is given to it by the formaldehyde present in it. Alternatively, you can heat up the piece of jewelry by placing it in hot water.
Look for scratches
Authentic Bakelite jewelry is not resistant to abrasion. So, if you examine the jewelry with a magnifying glass, and if it is old and genuine, it will exhibit some scratches.
Bakelite plastic is heavier than other kinds of plastic
If you compare the weight two bangles of the same shape - one made with Bakelite and one made with a plastic other than this type, you will notice a that the former is heavier than the latter. Owing to its molecular composition, Bakelite is dense, and hence heavy.
Two pieces of Bakelite jewelry make a characteristic sound when tapped against each other
Take two pieces of Bakelite jewelry and tap them against each other, and notice the characteristic clunk. Take two pieces of plastic jewelry not made with Bakelite plastic, and tap them against each other. Compare and contrast the two sounds - you will find they are different.
One test 'not' to do is the hot pin test. Do not poke a hot pin on your test specimen, as it will damage the item. You can use any of the aforementioned tests instead, since they are more reliable, and also keep the integrity of the piece intact.