Older jewelry is made of plastic. There are several different plastics used: Lucite, Bakelite and casein. A Bakelite test can be used to show that the plastic is not Bakelite or other plastics. Lucite and Bakelite are very similar as they will not contain any seams or other mold marks. The finishing of these plastics erases any marks. Lucite is a little lighter than Bakelite but otherwise the two are hard to distinguish. A chemical reaction is needed to test the plastic.
Things You'll Need
Apply Formula 409 to the piece of plastic. if the polish turns from pink to yellow then the plastic is not Lucite but Bakelite. Be aware that red or black plastic will not work with Formula 409.
Place a piece of the plastic in hot water for 30 seconds. Hold the plastic up to your nose and determine if the plastic smells. Bakelite will give off a vinegar or musty odor. Lucite does not smell when it is heated. If the plastic is casein then it will smell of burnt milk.
Feel the piece of plastic and compare it to other known pieces of Bakelite or other plastic. Lucite should feel smoother and be lighter. Most of the time Lucite is made in bright colors and patterns.
References and ResourcesDecolish: Bakelite Test
Collectors' Quest: Early Plastics: Identification and Care