- Venetian Beads
A style of glass bead making originating in Venice in the late 1800s. Antique “fancy” Venetian Beads are rare and prized by collectors. Today, many types of beads made by hand in Murano and Venice are sold under this label. Generally the term denotes a very high level of craftsmanship and that the beads are made individually by hand.
Venetian glass beads have long been prized for their beauty, vivid colors and intricate designs. Hand crafted according to a series of specific steps, the beads are known for their distinctive floral appearance. Prized beads created by artisans in Venice, Italy as early as the 1400’s were used as trading currency in Europe and Africa. It was there that the method of using a mandrel to fabricate the bead originated. Glass artisans formed the core of the bead by wrapping heated glass about a slim metal rod. When cooled, the slight contraction of the glass caused the center to open enough for the bead to slide off the inner rod.
To create floral beads, artist first create a series of glass rods comprised of a center and covered with thinner rods around the periphery. Once formed, the composite rods are heated and stretched until they reach the smallest possible diameter. On end, the resulting design resembles a flower. After cooling, the rods are sliced thinly. The slices are then melded to a glass bead to create intricate floral designs of vivid colors.
In the early 1900’s Venetian Glass beads were used for a number of decorative art objects. English doorknobs and paperweights incorporating Venetian Glass beads are often seen in antiques shops. Victorian English jewelry featured this style of bead in earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
In the 1620’s, the center of the Italian glass industry was officially moved to Murano. These distinctive beads are known interchangeable as Murano and Venetian glass. Fused glass is another term sometimes used to describe this type of bead because of the technique used to apply the colored glass to the glass core.
Today, Venetian glass beads are a stunning addition to any beaded piece. Coordinated seed beads and accent beads can enhance the bright colors and intricate designs of these beads. Or, for a simple and elegant look, simply string large Venetian beads on a chain or cord.