Trend File: Lucite Suddenly Feels So Right

Did you know that Lucite, the translucent, plastic-like material that’s been used in jewelry design since the 1930s, is scientifically classified as a glass? I didn’t, either.

But I do know that Lucite—which is actually a trade name for polymethyl methacrylate—is about to be everywhere. How? For one, it’s set to be featured prominently in numerous trendy jewelry collections in the coming seasons (more on those below). Also, summer is the perfect time to wear a sunlight-bending thermoplastic that might or might not shatter with the hard whack of a hammer. Amiright?

Designers are embracing the material with gusto: Jewelry designer Alison Lou just debuted a collection of Lucite and enamel hoop earrings, dubbed Loucite; fashion jewelry retailer BaubleBar recently launched an entire line of clear Lucite jewels; New York City–based Lady Grey will soon drop a stunning collection of clear, red, and gray Lucite pieces that include coiled bracelets, cuffs, and earrings with a cool, crumpled look (see below); and fashion jewelry brand Lizzie Fortunato is also poised to release a Lucite collection featuring chunky, 1960s-inspired domed cuff bracelets.

Surely it won’t be long before Lucite looks are dangling off the wrists and lobes of fashionable women en masse.

The material was first manufactured in the 1930s as a protective coating and/or bonding for glass. Historic costume jewelry firm Trifari was really the first to make jewelry from the material on a large scale: The firm used large hunks of Lucite to create the “bellies” of its iconic Jelly Belly animal brooches.

Trifari Jelly Belly spider

Trifafi Jelly Belly spider brooch (courtesy of Premier Estate Gallery)

The thermoplastic has endured in jewelry—outliving similar materials including Bakelite, Galalith, and Catalin—because it’s cheap to make and can be dyed any color.

I personally love that this tough, candy-colored material is coming back around again. Here are a few of my favorite Lucite looks that have either recently debuted or are about to hit the market.

Lizzie Fortunato Jewelry Lucite cuff
Lizzie Fortunato Jewelry Lucite Arc cuff in sea green, $195 
Lady Grey Lucite bracelets
Lady Grey Lucite spiral bracelets, $180
Lady Grey Lucite earrings
Lady Grey earrings, $180
Alexis Bittar Lucite earrings
Alexis Bittar earrings with hand-painted Lucite, $195
BaubleBar Lucite earrings
Bauble Bar Lova Lucite earrings, $35
Top: Alison Lou Jelly Lucite and enamel hoops, $125–$165

JCK Magazine Editor