Chinese Bakelite

Karima Parry asks, could the cheap counterfeit Bakelite bracelets
 that are flooding the market, be not only fake but dangerous ?

By Karima Parry

Vintage Fashion and Costume Jewelry Vol. 17, No. 3, 2007

 

Long before I collected and dealt in Bakelite jewelry, I earned a Masters degree which specialized in uncovering unsuspected sources of lead exposure in traditional medicines and cosmetics, cooking utensils, and jewelry.

I had a thought while reading the Drudge Report about all the tainted products from China…the latest is formaldehyde in blankets in New Zealand-and it just seems to be unending: whit if those Taiwan fakelite bangles are actually dangerous-with unacceptable levels of formaldehyde and goodness know what else manufactured into them?

Chinese products are making people sick left and right around the world, and I really wonder if these could be an actual danger.

New Zealand launched a probe of Chinese-made clothing after scientists found dangerous levels of formaldehyde in woolen and cotton garments. The New Zealand Ministry of Consumer Affairs said recently that it would start a program to test for formaldehyde in clothes as part of its probe, while acknowledging the country had no standard for formaldehyde levels in textiles-a concern for retailers.

A range of Chinese exports-from pet food to toothpaste-have come under international scrutiny in recent months. Toy company Mattel Inc. issued its second recall of Chinese-made toys this summer because of lead-tainted paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed by children.

Formaldehyde-a chemical preservative that gives a permanent press effect to clothes and is also used as an embalming fluid-can cause problems ranging from skin rashes to cancer.

China, on track to overtake the United States this year as the world’s second-largest exporter, lacks the manpower to enforce food and drug safety regulations at home or for export.

A lack of business ethics and a spiritual vacuum after China embraced economic reforms in the late 1970s have been blamed for unscrupulous business practices and corruption.

My husband is a retired ambassador, who is very familiar with manufacturing conditions and business practices in the Far East, has asked me not to buy anything for our home or for us that is made in China, and most especially food items. He says manufacturing conditions there are deplorable, with little, if any, regulation or oversight, and that many business people there have absolutely no ethics at all. They don’t care a bit if what they make and sell is dangerous or harms consumers, all they want is the money…..

So what I want to know is, what would make Mr. Fakelite manufacturer in Taiwan any better than the rest of them? I really wonder if, along with everything else , those bracelets he’s been dumping worldwide, by the container load, may actually be posing a health hazard for people who buy them, own them or, God forbid, are wearing them (formaldehyde gives off fumes, sometimes not easily detectable).

Personally, I wouldn’t want to take the chance, and I thought that people who own fakelite jewelry might want to give the above information some serious consideration.

Our thanks to Karima Parry, who originally published this article in VFCJ magazine, for her permission to re-publish it on our website. Karima, a GIA diploma-ed fine jeweler has more than 30 years in the fine jewelry manufacturing industry. She is also a dealer in vintage Bakelite jewelry. Her website is http://www.plasticfantastic.com

 

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