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Original Message:   Sigh....
From 1926 through the '30s and probably later, Chinese beadmakers made thousands or millions of translucent red phenolic plastic beads. The beads that have been marketed as "cherry amber" throughout my career (and long before, of course). The material was imported from Europe or the US, in rectangular blocks—and was transformed into beads via lapidary cutting, grinding, "carving," polishing, and drilling (just as would any industry that made phenolic plastic beads). The beads were most-frequently spherical or spheroidal (many being standard oblates). These fit in well with beads made for Mandarin Court necklaces. (I have them.)

Some beads were carved. Some were elaborately carved—such as the subject beads in this thread. (That I have seen before too.)

The material is generally uniformly red—just like the blocks from which is was derived.

While it is entirely possible that some tawny-yellow phenolic (and/or other plastic) beads have become superficially red over the years, scads of beads were made from red plastic. The tone of the material can vary. Many beads are uniform in color and frankly red in good available light. Others can be darker—and it helps to hold the beads against a light source to see their uniformly-dark-translucent red color. The material of the red Chinese beads is indistinguishable from red phenolic plastic beads made for the European market (often being faceted, and characterized as "Russian cut," and "Victorian" "cherry amber"). And the material is likewise indistinguishable from many (but not all) red phenolic plastic beads made for the Middle Eastern and African markets (except in instances where some beads MAY be yellow with a red exterior—due to age, heating, or dying).

So far, in the arena of Chinese phenolic beads, I do not recall seeing any "dark amber undertone" beads" with surfaces that "turn cherry red." But I have seen and documented, and I own, the beads I have described.

JDA.

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