Vintage Plastic Jewelry - The Sleek Alternative (Reseller Tips Inside)
These days, when you go for plastic jewelry, you will most likely be getting acrylic.
But the first ever plastic material used for accessories was Bakelite, and that is still the one that gets the highest rates on the market for vintage costume jewelry.
The reason is that bakelite jewelry was all the rage in the early 1900s, including the art deco period, and it was never so expensive that it would be out of reach for most people.
Today, any art deco piece will come with a price tag that might seem overblown for the material - but it is the story that you are paying for.
Fortunately, there is a more accessible way to get your hands on vintage plastic jewelry without breaking the bank – vintage plastic jewelry from the 1960s and 1970s.
With its sleek and alternative look, this type of retro jewelry is perfect for adding a touch of OG retro style to any outfit, and it certainly won’t break the bank.
How to Find Vintage Plastic Jewelry
The great thing about vintage plastic jewelry is that it’s still fairly easy to find.
If you want to get an OK-ish deal, you can start by checking out antique stores and flea markets.
If you want to get a really good deal, then it’s putting up classifieds in your local area and letting people know that you are looking for antique jewelry that they think probably has no value anyway.
It’s plastic after all, most people don’t suspect any worth in that but you might be able to snag some great pieces without spending too much money this way. It’s always easy to resell jewelry on Etsy or to more established vintage boutiques.
If you do not much care about saving as much as posible, then online sites like eBay, Etsy, and Ruby Lane are also good sources for vintage plastic jewelry; just be warned that people will date their vintage jewelry older than it really is to be able to sell it dearer.
What Kind Of Materials Are Used?
The oldest vintage plastic pieces will be Bakelite. Bakelite is not difficult to recognize; it is not as shiny as modern plasts but on the other hand it does not have a completely matte finish either.
Here are some vintage Bakelite bangles (on the left) vs a 70s aesthetic bangle bracelet made out of modern plastic:
Vintage plastic jewelry from the 60s and 70s was typically made from polyester resins or acrylic plastics like Lucite.
Acrylic resins are also the most popular material today; it allows brighter colors and more creativity in terms of patterns and finishes.
Vintage plastic jewelry from the 80s and 90s was also often decorated with colorful stones or rhinestones for an extra bit of glamour!
As for shapes, you can find pieces in all sorts of shapes, from round beads to geometric designs, as well as intricate filigree work. Every decade had its style that sold the best and so that is what you will most often find.
I will list out some examples below, but the jewelry I am adding are mostly replicas - they’re retro aesthetic pieces, not genuine vintage.
- Art deco: Bakelite jewelry in geometric shapes
- 50s and 60s: Classic aesthetic earrings such as minimalist round studs
- 70s: Large bangle bracelets from shiny acrylics
- 80s: ‘Disco’ statement hoops in vibrant colors
- 90s and Y2K: Nylon chokers and embellished statement earrings
How To Wear Vintage Plastic Jewelry
Are you thinking about getting some vintage plastic statement just for your own use, rather than for reselling?
Vintage plastic jewelry is incredibly versatile because it looks different, aesthetic, but at the same time it has that aura of jewelry that has been around for decades and used to be a major hit.
If you like aesthetic fashion but are afraid of not styling it right, going for vintage or retro is a great start. Wearing something that was a major trend once is almost always a good idea, and there’s already a lot of inspo on the internet too.
- For a casual retro look that takes no risks at all, try pairing a bold necklace with a simple white t-shirt or a bright bracelet with your favorite jeans.
- For something dressier and more aesthetic, opt for an eye-catching brooch or pendant worn with a wild 70s boho sun dress or an 80s business 3-piece with shoulder pads.
Vintage plastic jewelry is a great way to add some retro nostalgia to your wardrobe without spending a fortune on pricey Bakelite pieces. Whether you’re looking for bold statement pieces or something more subtle, you’re sure to find something that fits your unique style. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start shopping for some stylish (and affordable!) vintage plastic jewelry today!