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Bakelite and Plastic

First of all identifying whether a piece of jewellery is truly bakelite can often in todays market be a problem. However there are some simple tests that can be carried out, and the details of those are in our information page on bakelite.

So once a piece is identified as bakelite you have to remember that there is age to consider. Bakelite can be brittle and on aged bakelite there should be marks appropriate to its age. The best thing to do in terms of cleaning is to simply rub with a soft cloth. These pieces are too precious to put anywhere near too much water.  Having said that if there are some really difficult marks the simichrome polish can be an effective cleaner…but use it carefully and in  very small amount.
If there is carving in the piece, then patiently cleaning those with a very soft toothbrush will help.
If it is not jewellery you are tackling, perhaps a radio or something similar, then simichrome polish is an excellent cleaner.

Lucite needs very careful attention when cleaning. Some of the lovely handbags of the 50’s & 60’s can turn up for sale looking quite grubby.  The best thing is to tackle the different spots with a very mild detergent applied to a soft cloth and some gently rubbing, and then gentle rinsing in the same way. Never immerse lucite in water.

Sometimes there will be diamantes or little gemstones set into bakelite and plastic and a little attention to those can often give a piece of jewellery quite a lift.
Dip a cotton bud into some window cleaner solution and dab on to the diamante or gemstone – then take the other end of the cotton bud and use to dry the stone off…blot very carefully and a few times to ensure that it is quite dry when you have finished.

To clean other more robust plastic jewellery it is best to use a plastic bowl lined with cloth ..immerse momentarily and give a light rub with a soft cloth…then dry, dry, dry and dry again …make sure all areas are totally dry, and then leave a little longer to air dry….then polish off with a soft dry cloth.

Even with our plastics, remember that moisture is the enemy of all jewellery….and careful storage will also prolong life. Little soft felt or velvet bags are the best way to store your plastic and bakelite jewellery. If you do have your lovely bangles and necklaces on show….best to give them some care and attention from time to time and store away for a little while out of sunlight and pollution.