Most people know actress Diane Keaton for her unique personal style, eternal beauty and Oscar-winning talent. But what really brings the “Annie Hall” star to our attention is her stunning Bakelite jewelry collection.
If you have never heard of Bakelite, it is lightweight, malleable, fire-resistant plastic that was invented and patented by chemist Leo Baekeland just over a hundred years ago. During the 1920s to 1940s, famous designers, like Coco Chanel, embraced the material to create vibrant colorful, high-quality art deco-style jewelry, such as bracelets, rings, and pins. In 1942, the production of Bakelite suddenly stopped with the beginning of World War II. It was replaced by a less expensive material called Lucite.
Google “Bakelite jewelry” and you’ll discover nearly 200,000 websites dedicated to the beautiful vintage accessory. You’ll also notice all kinds of fake reproductions, cleverly dubbed “fakelite.” Prices for real pieces, which you can find at morninggloryjewelry.com—ironically the same name of Keaton’s next film “Morning Glory” featuring Harrison Ford, which is due out this fall—range from the hundreds to thousands depending on size and color, with a transparent apple color ranking among the most treasured. Keaton’s personal preference is small pieces, but other celebrities, like Whoopi Goldberg, love large bracelets.
[Photography of bakelite courtesy of Morning Glory Antiques]