Lucite in Vintage Jewelry
Lucite, developed by the Dupont Company in 1931, made its first
appearances in the jewelry world toward the end of World War II.
Prior to that time Lucite, as well as its cousin Plexiglas
(developed by Rohm & Haas Chemical during the same general time
period) was utilized as part of the war effort in the manufacture of
windshields for war planes and on submarines, since it has high
transparency, high water resistance and is lighter weight than glass.
Lucite Jelly Belly Jewelry
It was after World War II that
the process of embedding objects in
Lucite was developed and it's also around this time
belly' jewelry came into popularity. The jelly belly design
concept is attributed to Trifari, whose chief jewelry designer, Alfred
Phillippe, applied for design patents back in the late 1930s for
during the 1940s began showing up as 'jelly bellies,'
using surplus Lucite material that was structurally unsuitable for use
The term, 'jelly belly,'
refers to jewelry in which the major portion of the body is clear
Lucite in an open back setting. It does not include jewelry
items that incorporate only a small amount of clear Lucite in the
overall design and it does not include jewelry that uses colored or
opaque Lucite or other materials.
Morning Glory Antiques has a wonderful jelly belly album
of pins, fur
clips and earrings that incorporates both early vintage jelly belly
designs up through designs of the 1960s. If you've never seen
a true jelly belly before, it's worth a few minutes to view their
incredible online collection.
Confetti Lucite Jewelry
Lucite enjoyed its first round of popularity in the 1950s-1960s and
oftentimes incorporated other design elements such as seashells in
addition to the confetti that was embedded within the Lucite.
Moon Glow Lucite
Glow' Lucite refers to the pearlized, iridescent Lucite that can be
found in a variety of colors and in all types of jewelry.
moon glow Lucite dates as far back as the 1940s but it's still being
manufactured and used in modern jewelry designs as well.
Vintage Lucite Pins
Lucite pins are still relatively easy to find and use silly,
and whimsical designs similar to that found in vintage Bakelite pins.
And since Lucite, like Bakelite, can be carved or reverse
oftentimes vintage Lucite pins will incorporate both reverse carving
and painting on the back side of a piece so that both the color and
carving shows through the clear Lucite.
Dating Vintage Lucite Jewelry
Lucite is still very much a part of modern jewelry, it can be difficult
to accurately gauge the era from which it comes. Classic
belly designs, for example, are highly collectible and have
reproduced, sometimes nicely and sometimes using lesser materials and
with lesser workmanship solely for the purpose of fooling the neophyte
The best way to proceed for a beginner is to
first acquaint yourself with the styles of Lucite jewelry and when they
were first introduced and the materials used in their construction.
Once you've zeroed in on a style or era of vintage Lucite
appeals to you, learn all you can about it.
plenty of jewelry collecting books available as well as online guides
and reference sites that will allow you to expand your knowledge of all
different styles of vintage jewelry from the comfort of your home.
Visit our Jewelry
page for a list of reference sites we've found helpful in researching
such things as jewelry manufacturer's stamps, silver hallmarks, jewelry
patents and other jewelry-related issues.