Bakelite is a castable, fire-resistant plastic that was invented by Leo Baekeland in 1909. Coco Chanel was one famous designer who offered Bakelite jewelry and accessories, starting around 1912. At that time the only color used for Bakelite was very dark brown or black.
While shopping in Paris during the early 1970s, Grace found this long Necklace, with five segments of Bakelite in an antique store on avenue Foch, not far from the Grimaldi apartments. At that time Grace knew about Bakelite jewelry as the American Pieces were mostly made in Philadelphia, and her mother had some of the later pieces, known as the ‘Philadelphia Bracelets’.
The piece Grace had purchased was much earlier in time, as the necklace was a combination of small segments of Bakelite and tied together with a metal chain of various size links. Early in the use of Bakelite, Coco Chanel mixed the two materials, and it wasn’t until after WWI ended did she start to use all Bakelite for her jewelry. This dates the necklace to pre-World War I, about 1912 - 1914, making this necklace over 100 years old.
The necklace, even though it was a Coco Chanel Antique and very expensive, was used by Grace as one of her everyday accessories.