Friday, November 25, 2011

Dangling Red Cherry Bakelite Jewelry and Mom's Treasure Box

My faux vintage Bakelite inspired Red Cherry Necklace and other faux Bakelite cherry jewelry pieces including a Short Stem Necklace version and various color chain options, earrings, bracelet and Cherry Bar Brooch are available for sale at MelodyODesigns at Etsy

Mom had a jewelry box on her dresser. It wasn't fancy. Given that she grew up during the depression I think it might have been handmade by one of her brothers from simple stained pine wood. However, to me as a young child, that simple treasure box and it's contents were every bit as exciting as playing with the crown jewels might have been for some other child. It opened up a world of interesting shapes, textures and marvelous bright colors. I remember playing with the treasures in her box whenever I could manage to sneak a peek and dreaming of wearing them someday. I'd quietly clamber up on a chair to reach the dresser, open the lid on the jewelry box, and retreat into my own world. Ah, the colors! She liked the color blue a lot, but it was her collection of bright cherry red Bakelite pieces of the 1940's that totally captured my attention and imagination. I remember big chunky red earrings, awesome buttons, a red bangle bracelet, and.........


a dangling yellow disc necklace, oh how I loved the many DANGLING pieces in her collection............


and butterscotch hoop earrings.

At the end of my mom's life things were in chaos and I never found out what happened to her jewelry box and the contents. I can only hope that they ended up in the hands of someone who appreciated it as much as I did.

I had forgotten about the jewelry box and my love affair with red Bakelite jewelry until I saw two episodes of "Antiques Roadshow" on PBS. One featured the well-known vintage Cherry Jubilee necklace of bright red dangling Bakelite cherries and the other the classic Cherry Bar Brooch with suspended cherries. They made my heart sing. I desperately wanted to own them, however, they are in scarce supply, usually have extremely damaged stems and sell for a great deal of money ($500-$1,000+) made my own reproductions using artist-quality polymer clay with sturdy green stereo wire stems, antique brass wire, and modern PVC chain. People noticed when I wore them and wanted their own, so...........

Nowadays I handcraft and sell reproductions of classic vintage Bakelite cherry jewelry at my shop. The reproductions remain true to the spirit of the originals and I'm proud to say that I discovered an uncredited photograph of my recent work (2009) in a gallery of online photos featuring the "best of the vintage Bakelite jewelry from the the 1940's"!

Red Cherry faux Bakelite necklace reproduction with green chain and whimsical tiny Ladybugs

Red Cherry faux Bakelite reproduction necklace in the Short Stem version

Red Cherry faux Bakelite Bar Brooch reproduction

Red Cherry faux Bakelite Earring reproduction Bold version

Red Cherry faux Bakelite Earring reproduction Dainty version

Red Cherry faux Bakelite Bracelet reproduction


  1. Your beautiful Red Cherry jewelry is absolutely wonderful! I especially love the one with the green chain and the ladybugs.

    Thank you for sharing your story of how your love of Red Cherry Bakelight began! I hope that your mother's wonderful treasure box and all of it's contents is being enjoyed by someone who loved it as much as you did.

    I am on my way to check out the other artisan's shops that you've featured here. Thank you for introducing them to us.

  2. Your necklaces are stunning! I remember my own jewelry box, which I inherited from my grandmother when I was six. It was filled with lovely treasures. Unfortunately, my brothers chose to bury it in the sandpile in our side yard as a trick. The next day, the construction crew poured our new garage foundation...

  3. I love your faux Bakelite! It's every bit as wonderful as the real thing. My mother had a couple Bakelite pieces, too. I wonder what happened to them?? :D

  4. Anita ~ Your story about your mom's jewelry box with all of it's wonderful treasures is so sweet. I can just picture you climbing up on that chair with wide eyed excitement. I sure wish you were able to have that magical box too.

  5. Anita, These are beautiful! They look so real and delicious! You are an amazing talented person.

  6. eeek!i just ordered my brooch. i'm so excited for it. i saw the original on a picture and was obsessed with it until i found out how much they go for.there was no way i could afford an original. soooo glad i found this one. i'm gonna wear the s*'%t out of it! :D