These are phenolic plastic beads, post-dating 1926, made to imitate amber, and often used (when of this and similar shapes) in prayer strands.
These phenolic beads are often tested using heat (fire) that makes spots or areas turn reddish or even black (or black outlined in red). Occassionally, imitation amber beads have additional decorations carved into their surfaces—particularly when they come from prayer strands.
Here is a necklace of Plastic"amber",metal,and lapis beads I found at the flea market. The "amber" beads on this necklace aren't "branded" but appear to be the same type and size.
I would like to know if old African amber is actually bakelite? What about the old European cherry amber that is quite expensive? Is that bakelite? Thank you for your answers!
Bakelite is a specific plastic. It is the original phenolic plastic, developed in about 1907. However, Bakelite is ALWAYS dark or dinvy-colored, always opaque, and basically used for industrial purposes more than because it has much inherant beauty. the exceptions are or were things like radio cabinets, switch boxes, containers, etc. Bekelite is dry-molded from powdered resin, and has opacifiers that make it opaque (including asbestos and wood dust).
In contrast, in 1926, the Bakelite Company intriduced an entirely new phenolic plastic, generally called "cast phenolics." These are made from a liquid resin that is CAST (not dry-molded), and doesn't require opacifying fillers. Because oif these features, it became possible to dye it any color (or colors), and to make imitations of translucent materials.
Amber became a prime material to copy, usually using tones of yellow swirled together. So, all of these amber imitations made from cast phenolics post-date 1926, and continue to be made. It's important to understand—these products are not molded. The compoany makes "raw materials," such as rods, platres, and blocks. From these com[ponents, articles such as beads are cut, polished, and drilled. it is labor-intensive work, resulting in beads that can have individual characteristics (but will be similar to other beads made from the same rod).
However, the latest generations of amber imitations are not high-quality hard cast pehnolics. Nowadays, they tend to be soft individually-molded beads (or whatever).
All of this is discussed at my Amber Group at Yahoo. See the URL below.
It is not widely appreciated, but practically all of the "collectible plastic" beads and jewelry pieces that are called "Bakelite" are NOT actually Bakelite. They are cast phenolics (if they are phenolic plastics, and not something entirely misidentified). Some people refer to these collectively as "Catalin"—though this is sort of like saying "Kleenex" regardless of what company actually makes the nose tissue being used.
Jamey, thanks for the clarification on Bakelite. From what you're saying, the plastic known as "apple juice" Bakelite might be MADE by the Bakelite company but isn't actually BAKELITE because it's clear/translucent?
I'm not familiar with the name "apple juice Bakelite"—though I think I can imagine what it might be.
Yes indeed. There are some students of plastics who have the opinion (as I paraphrase it) that "since cast phenolics are or were made by the Bakelite Corporation, they are 'Bakelite' too" or "it's OK to call this stuff 'Bakelite.'" (Of course, this attitude ignores tha fact that cast phenolics were made by other companies too, and that few people can tell the products of one company from another....)
Essentially, since I can't stop anyone from using any name or term that they choose to use, my point is one of information, and of advice (for those who are interested, or who haven't made-up their minds and are open to new info).
What if tomorrow the Bakelite Corporation goes into the diamond business. When they start selling diamonds, are these "Bakelite" too, because the Bakelite Company sells them? I don't think so.