Polymers feature in a lot of jewellery today. Resins, plastic, polymer clay, Bakelite, Lucite, celluloid, Vulcanite are just some of the "names" used for polymers. Many items that appear to be glass and particularly dichroic glass are often resin based. If you use to be a "plastic snob" then you need to update your knowledge. There are plastic of all types differring in composition, density, hardness, moldability, impact resistance, and the way they are made.
Polymer clay and resin use in modern jewellery tends to be used in the same way as semi-precious stone are used in traditional jewellery. Many designers replicate theses stones in polymer clay and if you buy cheaply without guarantees then your semi-precious stone may be polymer clay. Unless you are an expert it can difficult to tell the real and fake apart.
Polymer clay becomes more than replication when its unique colour and pattern abilities are explored which is what we explore in our jewellery here at StudioKY. My personal aim is to create jewellery that tends towards art rather than decoration but I am conscious that many of my customers need jewellery they can wear everyday.
When the lightness of polymer clay is utilised to create large statement pieces and when its modelling (polymer clay is used to make doll's faces and bodies) capabilities are explored to make unusual shapes, then polymer clay comes into its own as a medium. Here at StudioKY these items can usually be found in "Something different" or under jewellery with words like "shaped", twisted", "unusual" or" sculptural" in their titles. Cameos that appear in pendants, broaches and pins are clearly the result of modelling. Sometimes, before the polymer is cured I add texture, mica or other embellishments but after the polymer has reached maximum hardness I have the option of painting, carving, polishing or varnishing the piece.
Some of my best customers are older women who have worn jewellery all their life and now find conventional pieces too small (to reduce the amount of precious metals) or too heavy (lots of base metals). Polymers are light and do not bruise the skin of people susceptible to bruising. Judicious combinations of narrow silver bracelets with wider polymer cuffs can be stunning.
The composite photo below contain examples of faux gemstones made from polymer clay. The two examples of the fossilised agatized coral are not the same - one is faux and one is real. Can you tell the difference? In fact I didn't have to go far to find these examples. They come from basic tutorials on how to make faux gemstones (and other substances) on the polymerclayexpress web site. Often with faux gemstone jewellery the craftsmanship is superb. It is only when they are sold, implied or otherwise, to be gemstones that we should have an issue.
Faux stones can often be detected because they weigh less than the stones and are usually warmer. When assessing weight do remember to take into account the weight of the mounting.