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How To Find Real Bakelite — Not Fakelite

Everything, it seems, is made in China these days. Even fake vintage costume jewelry is coming out of the Far East. Fakelite (fake Bakelite) bangles are being imported into the US and these copies are quite good. The carving is excellent and of the same quality as old bakelite. How do you tell if the vintage Bakelite bangle sold online is real?

First, where is it coming from and how many Bakelite bangles are being sold by one seller? If a seller is selling too many similar items, I would have to wonder how they are able to come up with an unusually large selection of hard-to-find Bakelite. On eBay, a seller’s history and feedback mean a lot to me. A reputable dealer will not mind answering questions. I would feel comfortable buyer Bakelite from a reputable antiques/jewelry dealer but not from a flea market or from someone in the Far East on eBay.

Real Bakelite has a clunky look and feel to it. It’s heavy but not as heavy as the fakelite. Because it is “old”, it will usually have tell-tale signs of slight wear. If a bangle is too perfect, ask yourself if it’s too good to be true.

Real vintage Bakelite will usually show up in certain colors — reds, yellows, oranges, greens, black, browns. No neon colors here.

Real Bakelite will not have mold lines. The interior of a bangle will be sommth with no mold line evident. The back of a pin will be smooth.

Hardware will be affixed to the piece, not glued on.

These are some clues that will help you diagnose whether your bakelite is authentic vintage jewelry. Again, my main advice is to stick with reputable dealers and beware of bargains too good to be true.