Between 1907 and 1909, Dr. Leo H. Baekeland was conducting experiments to create a varnish. He was using phenol and formaldehyde, generally with a wood flour filler, and put the mixture under heat and pressure. He accidentally discovered bakelite. It was the first plastic made from synthetic polymers.
As costume jewelry, bakelite had its biggest boom in the 1930's during the Great Depression. It was used to imitate tortoiseshell, coral, amber, ivory and other costly materials. It was attractive to all levels of incomes, including the very rich.
This wonderful Egyptian bib style necklace, circa 1940's, is presented in striking colors of red and black. Composed of a combination of elongated oval black and round cherry red beads connected by gold-tone eyelet fasteners. The 'bib' has ten streamers hanging from a two inch red bar, each which consist of three black and one red bead, measuring 4 1/4" in length. The necklace chain is composed of intermittent black and red beads totaling 30" in length with a hook and eye clasp. Wonderful vintage condition with no damages. Unmarked as to maker.