Sunday, October 4, 2009

The circle of life...

represented in bangle bracelets...and staying with our welcome to fall, "orange" you glad you stopped by?
Ouch! Bad pun! But, I have some wonderful bangles in stock to complement your fall wardrobe. And, of course, a little insight into bangles. It seems based on my research that India made the bangle fashionable, and that women wore the bangles to indicate they were married. Prior to that, the bangle did exist as "cuff bracelets" worn by men as raw materials were hammered, carved, or molded into the shape desired by craftsmen working over wood fired furnaces in central Asia.

Victorians wore bangles accented with jewels. I saw an 1888 article that mentioned a bangle being stolen, and it obviously was a diamond studded creation. I have a rhinestone jeweled bangle in my stash, but it is plastic...

Today, Bakelite comes to mind when people think of bangle bracelets. A Belgian scientist named Dr. Leo Baekeland was responsible for the invention of Bakelite. In 1889 he immigrated the the United States, and in 1907 while working as as independent chemist he accidently discovered the compound of carbolic acid and formaldehyde. When he tried to reheat the solidified compound he discovered it would not melt, no matter how high the temperature.

The butterscotch colored bangle at the top is bakelite. When the Bakelite patent expired in 1927, it was acquired by the Catalin Corporation that same year. Bakelite-Catalin was sold mainly to companies like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bonwit Teller, Woolworth's, and Sears. Much of the wealthy society fell into difficult financial times during the Great Depression and could no longer afford Tiffany diamonds or Cartier Jewelry.

Bakelite-Catalin took up the market slack with its colorful carved jewelry adorned with rhinestones. This jewelry was within the reach of all, and its popularity grew from the poorest to the wealthiest in society.

In 1942 Bakelite-Catalin stopped sales of their colorful costume jewelry in order to concentrate on the nation's wartime needs. By the end of the World War II, new technologies for molded plastics had been developed. These new products consisted of plastics such as Lucite, Fiberglass, Vinyl, and Acrylic - all which were could be molded.

There are many "fakelite" bracelets around, and it can be difficult to recognize the original plastic. Some common ways to check involve looking for mold lines...Bakelite has none...it is heavier that celluloid, lucite and all modern plastics. It makes a lower pitch when tapped together. You can dip a q-tip in 409 Cleaner, and it will turn yellow if it is bakelite, but there are exceptions if the piece has been highly polished.

Another bangle style in stock is cinnabar so called because of its resemblance to the mineral and the way it was carved in ancient times. These are made from heavy, molded polymers. Genuine Cinnabar, which derives its name from its cinnamon–to-scarlet-red color, contains Mercury. Carved Cinnabar bracelets are a traditional Chinese handicraft dating back hundreds of years. Crafted in red, black and a striking combination of red and black Cinnabar resin, Cinnabar bracelets feature traditional Chinese motifs such as dragons, phoenixes, bats, and Chinese characters, and are available in a variety of widths.

So, round and round it goes...there are, of course, all kinds of other bangles, but I love my fall colored ones...

5 comments:

Marge said...

Oh my gosh, I need to get out the 409 and test an old bracelet. Pretty sure it is post WWII, but it's worth a check. I love your collection!

Brenda @Just a Bed of Roses said...

Love your fun fall antique bangles, my customers would go nuts over them and the history. You can easily pick out the chinese style.

Love the history lesson, are you sure you are an english professor?

Isn't it nice to have the fun fall colors brighten up the shop. Your shop is looking so charming.

Cindy-Stitches-N-Stuff said...

Beautiful bangles, and what a history lesson. Thanks for both.

cindy@stitches

Karen said...

Knock knock jokes! I used to drive my mom crazy with those, lol!
Enjoyed your post as always,
Karen

gail said...

Hi Susan,, how are you this week? I just know the weather is so pretty and the colors must be spendid.
I love the orange bangle with the rhinestones! What a fun lesson. I love anything to do with jewelry and learning the history is fun.
Have a great week,, (()) gail