Bakelite bracelets and bangles are the most
collected form of Bakelite Jewellery.
Bangles were the easiest form of Bakelite to manufacture and there are many simple bangles in various colours and thicknesses. The flappers of the roaring twenties loved wearing an arm full of bangles which made a lovely clunking sound as they danced.
As time went on Bakelite bangles became more and more decorative and imaginative. Carved bangles became an art form with the simple flowers giving way to animals, birds, geometric designs and exotic scenes being displayed on every fashionable woman's wrist.
Reverse carving was a process which produced some beautiful examples. This involved carving a pattern on the reverse of a translucent bangle to give a 3D effect. These designs were often painted on the inside too.
The simpler bangles were made more interesting by laminating two or more colours together to create stripes and these were sometimes also carved with a faceted pattern or cut through holes.
It became fashionable to wear up to 8 bangles on one arm, either in clashing colours for a fun and dazzling effect, or harmonious shades for a more subtle, elegant look.
With the development of injection moulding the polka dot bangle took off. A contrasting colour was injected into drilled holes in the Bakelite. A Russian born, New York industrial designer, Belle Kogan took the circular dots and stretched them to form ovals, sometimes stretching half way round the bracelet giving a geometric effect. These are highly collectable.
Hinged bracelets are great if you have big hands, or if like me you have
small wrists and bangles tend to be too big. I've got a couple of
hinged bracelets which are small enough so that they don't fall down my
The Art Deco style strongly influenced the design of Bakelite bangles with many European designers producing intricate articulated bangles which evoked radio or car grills. The Philadelphia bracelet is an example of the Art Deco geometric influence and has become a famous classic Bakelite collectable.
The photo at the top of the page includes a memory bracelet from my collection. Made of Bakelite beads and strung on a spiral shaped wire, it springs back into shape round your wrist.
There are also lots of elastic bracelets with various shaped pieces strung together on elastic. Some rarer elastic ones may have carved or faceted pieces and some may have metal or wooden parts too.
One popular style of elastic bracelet is made from old Mah Jong pieces strung together perhaps with some Bakelite beads in between. Beware though, that many Mah Jong bracelets are not Bakelite, especially if they are white!
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