Lucite beads – “jewelry lollipops”

What is lucite

Lucite jewelry resembles a lollipop: just as bright, transparent and smooth. This material is used to create a variety of products, but most often – beads. And although more than 100 years have passed since the invention of lucite, it is still popular.

Lucite is a plastic that is transparent, translucent, or opaque. From a chemical point of view, it is a kind of acrylic resin. Lucite is also known as plexiglass, metaplex or acrylic.

Material properties

Lucite is colorless, but easily tinted to any desired shade. In addition to color, you can add a variety of inclusions and sparkles to it.

Even a separate variety of lucite is known, called “confetti” because of its external similarity. Lucite is valuable not only for decorative, but also for practical properties. He: Not afraid of humidity. The material has anti-corrosion properties, does not deform and does not deteriorate from moisture.

Durable and wear resistant. Lucite products last for decades. Many of the vintage lucite jewelry are now being sold at auctions, and for substantial sums. Compared to other plastics, lucite has another specific property – when heated, it does not emit an unpleasant odor.

What are lucite beads

Lucite jewelry is very diverse. The classic solution is beads made of colored round beads of small size, painted in any color. They can resemble mother-of-pearl, rock crystal, or even amber.

Modern lucite beads are not a cheap alternative to jewelry made from natural stones, but a means of self-expression. They can have an asymmetrical design, unusual color transitions, unexpected shapes, faceted or cast. Despite the affordable cost, they look very stylish – it is only important to be able to wear them.

Care rules

Lucite beads must be protected from mechanical damage. They should be stored separately from other jewelry that has sharp edges or edges. Do not leave their lucite beads near heat sources for a long time, treat them with aggressive or alcohol-containing products.

Popularity History

Work on the development of a new material with a high degree of transparency, low weight and strength has been carried out since the 1930s of the last century.

Initially, it was intended for military needs: the material was to be used as an alternative to ordinary glass. It was planned to make lenses, portholes, instrument glasses from it.

Rohm & Haas developed their material in 1935, and DuPont two years later. But representatives of the second company did not limit themselves to a contract with the military.

They licensed the new material and began offering it to other businesses, including jewelers. By that time, the jewelry market was going through several important changes.

The protracted economic crisis between the two world wars led to a significant drop in demand. Consumers needed new jewelry – inexpensive, bright, modern. Lucite was ideally suited for these purposes. The first experimenter was the designer of Trifari.

In the 1940s, he introduced the Jelly Belly collection, funny animal figurines whose abdomens were made of lucite. During the Second World War, there was a legend that Trifari jewelry was made from aircraft glass that had become unusable.

This was not true – the materials varied in thickness and color – but it generated additional interest in the new material. Soon, other jewelers became interested in lucite.

In the 1950s, the material was used to imitate “moonstone”: it cost less than adularia or chalcedony. In the 60s, lucite was used to make jewelry with a futuristic design, in the 80s – with bright neon colors. Modern designers also turn to this material, although vintage items are most valued.

Lucite. History and beauty

For the first time in the 1930s, crystal acrylic plastic, labeled as Lucite, became an insanely sought-after material in the production of costume jewelry.

Less expensive to manufacture compared to Bakelite, Galilite and Catalin, and more synthetically resistant than celluloid. In its natural state, genuine Lucite is a translucent thin glass, but it can be dyed a variety of colors, making it an ideal material to be cut and polished.

Trifari was one of the first to use this new plastic in the 1930s, in the process of creating a whimsical Jelly Belly menagerie of hatching chicks, screaming cockerels, stately poodles, balancing seals, fat bees and royal elephants.

In the 1950s, Lucite dominated costume jewelry and was used to make colorful all-plastic rings, bracelets, as well as beads and jewelry for earrings and necklaces.

In the early 60s, the concept of throwaway culture became something to celebrate, as seen in the cheap models sold in London and the rise of pop art.

Mass-produced plastic jewelry was in vogue, as they were used to make artificial pins in the form of flowers, as well as bracelets in the form of tiles. Jewelry made from Lucite in bold black and white pop art styles sold very quickly.

Costume jewelry and jewelry fell out of favor in the 70s, but demand returned in the 1980s when bright neon pieces were introduced into fashion.