A Look at Lucite

Elzac Copper Bonnet Brooch 1940's
Reverse Carved Lucite Pin

Lucite made its debut onto the jewelry scene in the 1930s courtesy of DuPont. At the time, it was also used to create furniture, handbags, airplane windshields and other useful items. The material itself is a durable, methyl methacrylate polymer. It has the ability to appear crystal clear, clouded or full of gorgeous, glittering colors. In addition, it can be embedded with other materials.

An excellent example of Lucite’s ability to be embedded with other materials is seen in confetti bracelets. The Lucite panels of the bracelets are embedded with flakes of mica, glitter, tiny shells or plastic confetti.

During Lucite jewelry’s heyday, it was also not uncommon to see it used in place of precious gems. This was due, in part, to its uncanny ability to form jewel-like shapes and reflect light beautifully.

Lucite’s strength and versatility made it capable of taking unique forms as well. As such, many vintage jewelry manufacturers would twist and carve it into intriguing shapes such as the bonnet in the above Elzac brooch from the 1940's.

The reverse carved and painted technique was quite popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Reverse carvings it can be found in a wide variety of vintage items like bracelets, paper weights, card holders, handheld mirrors and hairbrush handles. To create the style, jewelry makers had to literally carve the design they wanted into the back of the Lucite first. The carving was then painted and sealed into place. The Orchid pin above is an example from the 1950's.