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.
These beautiful Bakelite button earrings, circa 1930's, have an overall marbleized appearance with the basic butterscotch color with splotches of blue and hints of green. The round earrings measure 3/4" across. The screw-backs work fine, but the metal shows wear. A great set for your collection or to wear.