While many people equate the Industrial Revolution with the invention of the steam engine or the cotton gin, another more ubiquitous product also emerged from this transformative era -- plastic.
Similar in concept to the plastics of today, these early Victorian era plastics were derived from natural materials that could be made malleable, molded or chemically altered to create a new hardened substance.
This groundbreaking discovery revolutionized everyday 19th century life and soon natural and semi-synthetic plastics were utilized in everything from picture frames and belt buckles to coated telegraph cables and false teeth.
Naturally, it didn't take long before these magical plastics took the jewelry world by storm -- starting first with gutta-percha in 1822.
However, this beautiful necklace hails from the second phase in the evolution of semi-synthetic plastics with the invention of vulcanite.
Developed and patented in the 1840s by both Charles Goodyear in the US and Thomas Hancock in Britain, vulcanite (also known as ebonite) was formed by combining sulphur and natural rubber and then heating -- or vulcanizing -- the mix. The result is a hard, black/brown material that often resembles ebony wood.
This stunning piece is 36 inches of vulcanite goodness! It has no clasp and is meant to be pulled over the head. It does have a center link that is thicker than all the rest where you could attach a locket or pendant if you choose.
Given the nature of the material, vulcanite is always molded and never carved, which is why the chain links are sliced open on one end.
When we first received this piece, it was broken, oxidized, crusted with filth and reeked of perfume. It has been painstakingly cleaned, repaired and restored to its original condition. Please be sure to read the care instructions below to ensure that it stays in tip top shape.
Condition: Very Good
Two links have a small chip on the inside loop. Does not affect the integrity of the piece and is only noticeable under very close inspection.
Cleaning and Care
To keep your vulcanite necklace free of oxidation and looking new, store it in a box and keep it out of direct sunlight. Prolonged air and sun exposure will cause the piece to turn a rust/khaki color. To clean and remove oxidation, scrub lightly with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Once finished, wipe with a light coat of vegetable oil to hydrate and let it sit overnight. Wipe off excess oil and voila!