A Lesson in Lucite

In 1937, Dupont created a clear thermoplastic acrylic resin material called lucite (also known as plexiglass). In the 1940s and 50s, lucite was used to create jewellery, purses, shoes and more. Lucite, alongside bakelite and celluloid, was commonly used to create amazing novelty costume jewellery pieces.

Often lucite is left transparent, but sometimes is tinted or opaquely coloured (it then gets confused for bakelite). Lucite jewellery comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and designs and often features rhinestones, glitter, leather, metal and reversed-carvings. Lucite was incredibly popular in the 40s/50s because of its use in the center of jelly belly pieces.

Vintage Rhinestone Jelly Belly Rooster Brooch

How to tell if your piece is lucite:

As far as I know, there is no test for lucite like there is for bakelite. However, you can identify lucite in a couple of ways:

  1. The Look: lucite is often clear with rhinestones, glitter, metal, leather or revserse-carved designs.
  2. The Weight: lucite is much lighter than its counterpart, bakelite, which is one of the heaviest plastics.
  3. The Smell: If you put bakelite or celluloid under hot water you will get a strong odour (yuck). If you put lucite under hot water there will be no smell.

Vintage Rhinestone Lucite Shoe Clips, http://vintagejunkinmytrunk.typepad.com/

1940s Lucite Jewellery, Black Dahlia's Collection (click to see larger image)

1940s Lucite Compact, Black Dahlia's Collection

Lucite Reverse Carved Bangle, http://estatebeads.com/

Lucite Flower Earrings, Etsy VintageMementos

xoxo

Black Dahlia

14 thoughts on “A Lesson in Lucite

  1. Pingback: Oh, for the Love of…Jelly Bellies! « Oh, for the Love of Vintage!

  2. I don’t have a lucite handbag but all of the ones I’ve seen are beautifully designed. I think I’ll look for lucite jewellery the next time I go to a vintage store, thanks! 🙂

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