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WHAT IS LUCITE?

Even if you're brand-spankin' new to beading, you're probably familiar with the term, "Lucite." But what is it...really? Well in 1931, DuPont chemists discovered Lucite® methyl methacrylate polymer, one of the first plastics derived from petrochemicals, while exploring the high-pressure technology developed for ammonia production. The polymer’s crystal-clear appearance and its strength were far superior to nitrocellulose-based plastics.

Lucite® was in heavy demand during WW II for use in windshields, nose cones, and gunner turrets. After the war, DuPont marketed it for use in a variety of decorative and functional uses, such as lamps, hairbrushes and beaded jewelry. These items were very popular during the 1950's and early '60s. For many good reasons, lucite beads continue to grow in popularity today.

Over time, the term "lucite" has been commonly adopted by most beaders to refer to all plastic beads. There are many types of plastic, including acrylic, polymer, resin, bakelite, thermoset, celluloid, and others...each with specific properties. (Pssst! Jim was a professional moldmaker for 40+ years..he knows plastics!) In most cases, we "go with the flow" and tag most of our plastic-type beads "lucite." If this bothers you, there are plenty of self-proclaimed lucite "experts" out there who will sell you "real" lucite. (*grin*)

Plastic lucite beads are extremely varied and can be found in frosted, opaque, transparent, painted, dyed...well you name it and it's probably out there! You will also find exquisitely-detailed beads, some with "inlaid" colors, often referred to as "carved" or "etched."

Although vintage lucite is a denser material than most of the plastics being made today, it is still very lightweight, making it a wonderful choice for your "chunky" jewelry designs. Some of our favorite "chunky" lucite shapes are baroque and nugget. We also LOVE lucite flower beads!

Vintage lucite beads are becoming more difficult to find, but lucky for us, today's manufacturers have copied many old beads and other lucite items. You can sometimes distinguish vintage from new by the quality of the bead...but not always. (There are some really nice copies being made!)

Also, no-seam vs. seam is not a determining factor in vintage vs. new. Some seamless lucite has been lathe-turned. Some beads have been polished or buffed after production, minimizing the seam. Unless you buy your beads directly from the manufacturer or know for a fact that your beads are still in the original packaging, it's pretty much impossible to know where a bead was made. For the most part, most lucite and plastic beads were/are made in Germany, Italy, Austria, Japan, China, and Hong Kong.
I can tell you one thing for sure. To date, I have never ever bought beads made in Germany, vintage and contemporary, that have visible seams. I've been seeing a lot of so-called "German" plastic and lucite beads lately that I KNOW were made in China. Just sayin'...

Most of our vintage beads are at least 25 years old. "Vintage repro" or "vintage mold" refers to an exact or close copy of a vintage bead. In most cases, the original vintage mold was copied (as molds wear out). While it's possible that some original vintage molds may still be used, it's not likely. (Again, we have our very own moldmaker with 40+ years' experience!)

We LOVE lucite and continue to expand our product line...so if you didn't see something you just gotta have this time, please check back often to see what's new!
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