Before I get fancy with any testing I always do a simple bakelite test - rub my thumb firmly across the surface and then sniff. If it gives off a chemical odor, it is bakelite.
Hot Water Test:
Don't do this if the item has string, wood, hand painted decoration, or other non-plastic decorative materials; hold the edge of the piece under HOT running tap water for up to 30 seconds and then smell it. Bakelite has a characteristic Phenol or fresh shellac odor. No odor probably means that the piece is Lucite.
The 409 Method:
Formula 409 all-purpose cleaner is a better testing agent. Test on a small area, that cannot be seen such as on the reverse of a pin or the inside of a bracelet. Put a small amount of 409 on a swab and rub it on the test area for a few seconds. If the swab develops a yellowish color, no matter what color the plastic is, then it is likely that the piece is bakelite. Wash the area
immediately afterwards with mild dishwashing soap and warm water and towel dry immediately.
Scrubbing Bubbles Test:
Same as the above only using the scrubbing bubbles cleanser, this is a harsh chemical so I try to stick to the hot water test before I resort to the last two methods.
French Ivory and Bakelite - Is French Ivory the Same as Bakelite?
French Ivory is celluloid which was introduced in the late 1800's as a substitute for ivory and animal horn. It is a semi-synthetic plastic. Celluloid is flammable so it is not a good idea to stick a hot straight pin into it. Bakelite on the other hand is entirely a man-made plastic that was introduced around 1910. It is heat-resistant and tougher than celluloid. The colors are also