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Since the first plastics were created at the start of the 20th century, some jewelry designers have used these materials in place of traditional metal or gems. During the 1950s and 1960s, lucite® bracelets were one of the hottest jewelry trends. Though these hard plastic bracelets can be made from many composites, they are often referred to as lucite® bracelets, after a popular brand name version of this material. These acrylic bracelets can be clear like glass, or embedded with colors or even small gems or charms. Today, collectors seek out lucite® bracelets for their classic, vintage appeal.
Throughout history, man has relied on natural materials like metal, bone, and ceramic to produce bracelets and other types of jewelry. After a hard plastic known as Bakelite® was introduced at the start of the 20th century, Chanel began to introduce high-end fashion jewelry made from this clear plastic. In 1931, the DuPont company patented lucite®, which is very similar to modern plexiglass. Lucite® was widely used throughout World War II to make windows for planes and other military vehicles. After the war, manufacturers began to produce lucite® bracelets and other acrylic jewelry.
Lucite® is a thermoplastic material made from methyl methacrylate. It is a shatter-resistant alternative to glass, and appears perfectly clear like glass if left uncolored. When used to make bracelets and jewelry, this material helps to reflect the light like glass or diamonds. It is also relatively cheap and lightweight, making it comfortable and affordable for the general public.
Designers may create these bracelets using pure lucite® or a combination of lucite® and some other material. For example, thick, chunky lucite® bracelets were a fashion staple during the 1950s and 1960s, while modern jewelry makers may simply add lucite® beads or charms to a traditional metal bracelet. Bracelets may be molded into a single component, or combined with other pieces of lucite® or metal to form a clasp.
The iconic lucite® bracelet features a thick, geometric design, and is formed into a single piece of material designed to slip over the wrist. Similar varieties featured integral color, patterns, or designs to give them a livelier look. Classic lucite® bracelets may also be embedded with small stones or trinkets, including glitter, seashells, and flowers. Some of these bracelets were carved with shapes of patterns, or formed in a special mold to create the desired texture.
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