Asked Questions regarding Venetian Beads Below
are some questions which we frequently receive regarding Venetian
Glass Beads. If there are other questions you have on our Venetian
Glass beads or Murano Glass Beads, please submit your question through
the Contact Us at the bottom of each page.
is the difference between Venetian Beads and Murano Beads?
There is no difference. The glass used to make the beads originates
in Murano. However, Venetian Glass has been used to describe the
glass coming from Murano for centuries and since Venice is much
more widely known than the island of Murano, people continue to
refer to it as Venetian Glass, Venetian Jewelry. So beads and jewelry
made from beads produced in Murano are sold in the stores in San
Marco (the famous square in Venice) as Venetian Glass. It's a matter
of marketing terms and that Venice is much wider known than Murano.
are the beads made?
They are made both in Venice and Murano in Italy. Murano is the
famous "glass island" where the glass furnaces were moved
in 1297 by mandate of the Doges of Venice and is about 5 minutes
by vaporetto (boat) from Venice. Many visitors think of it as just
Venice. In recent years, due to the cost of housing in Venice and
Murano, lampwork and beadmaking is migrating to the small towns
also carry a line of beads known as MuroGlass™ which are produced
outside of Italy but with the same famous Moretti glass. These are
marked as MuroGlass™ and you can find a description of them
in that category. We bring these to you as they are excellent quality
at a good price and are sold and used by Venetian Bead Makers in
are the beads made of?
They are made of glass which is about 70% silica (sand). Venetian
beads are made from a type of glass known as soda glass with a COE
of 90 degrees which is a measurement of the expansion in heating
and cooling. The beads start with glass rods which have been made
in Murano. All of our beads are made from the famous Moretti Canes
who make filigrana canes, millefiori canes and the solids and translucent
colors (now Effetre Industriale).
are they priced per bead?
Our beads are priced individually as we find people like the freedom
to choose the number of beads they purchase. In some cases, where
we specify a quantity, they will be sold according to the quantity
indicated. With our volume pricing, the beads are more economical
as the quantity increases..
they break easily?
Think of marbles you may have played with as a child. The round
beads are quite sturdy. The longer skinny beads and shapes which
have points are more delicate. As with all jewelry its' best to
treat it gently and since it is glass, it can break.
big are the holes?
Traditionally the size of the holes are quite small, usually
measuring less than 1mm. This is similar to the size of holes in
pearls. Some of the larger beads will have a slightly larger opening.
By special order (in quantities over 1000 pieces) we can have beads
produced with larger holes.
all beads made on copper mandrels?
Today most of the production Venetian beads are made on the
copper mandrel. However, the copper mandrel was introduced in Murano
in the 1920s by the Moretti family and introduced as a cost saver
to the industry. Prior to the "discovery" that they could
etch out the copper mandrels, the beads had been produced exclusively
by the use of metal mandrels coated with a white paste which is
still used today for some beads, mostly silverfoil beads or gold
exteriors which can be burned by the Nitric Acid. (And Americans
thought they invented bead release!)
It was considered at the time to be revolutionary as it required
no preparation and of course there were no environmental laws at
the time. The beads which are made on copper require etching with
Nitric Acid to dissolve the copper and with todays environmental
laws, the equipment has become more expensive.
in the School of Glass on Murano, they use the stainless steel mandrels
and bead release produced in the US to teach. We regularly carry
bead release to Venice some of our lampworkers use as we use the
stainless steel when we work with samples as we can make the beads
and have them ready to try without waiting for the acid.
are Venetian Beads more expensive?
Many factors enter into price of an item. One is the cost of labor
in the country, another is the desirability and availability of
an item. Beads made in Venice are handmade and few can be made in
a day compared to the machine made beads of the Czech Republic.
There are a limited number of people still working this ancient
craft in Venice - so supply is also limited. And we feel, quite
honestly, they are much more beautiful a result of the quality of
the glass and the workmanship.
all Venetian beads Annealed?
The production beads are usually placed in vermiculite after flash
annealing (an annealing process in the flame) to cool down slowly.
Annealing ovens are used on some of the larger pieces and all our
lampwork beads are annealed. The lampwork beads generally have more
intense workmanship and take longer to produce. In production beads,
you expect some breakage but our more expensive lampwork beads,
must be annealed as they may take up to 45 minutes to make one bead
while a production bead is made within a minute or two.
are the beads different?
Mainly because they are not made by machine and human made products
always reflect the slight variances. As with all articles made by
hand, the sizes and shapes will vary. It depends on so many variables,
they are all within a range, but no two will ever be exactly alike.
This is simply not possible with handmade lampworked beads. These
variations are not imperfections or rejects, simply that they are
made by hand.
is it called lampwork?
Answer: It is called lumè in Italian and means that the beads
were worked over a flame. Today the flame is supplied by natural
gas to generate the heat required to melt the glass. Many traditional
Venetian beadmakers continue to use the gas alone, while some have
acquired newer torches which mix gas and oxygen to produce a higher
heat. Different heats are required to make certain beads. Our section
called "Lampwork" are made at a heat of about 200 degrees
hotter as it allows for detail work, while the beads such as our
fish beads and beads with gold exterior require a lower heat so
to prevent burning of the gold.
By tradition in Venice, lampwork refers to the small animals, figurines and other small glass which the lampworkers produce by working the piece on the end of a cane of Murano Glass. They work over the torch with canes, no mandrels as these small pieces do not have holes. Many of our pendant hearts and other pendants are produced in this fashion. The locals distinguish themselves that they are Lampworkers - not bead makers!
gives the beads the sparkle?
Answer: Avventurina which is a colored glass containing irridescent
particles, usually copper or chrome, crystallized from the coloring
agent used in the glass. The crystallizing process occurs during
a lengthy cooling of the molten glass in a special glass vessel.
The process was accidentally discovered on Murano about 1610-25
and the family aquired an exclusive arrangement to produce this
decorative discovery. Early documents also refer to avventurina
as pasta stellaria.
is used in gold foil and silver foil beads?
Small squares of tissue thin gold foil 24kt gold and .925 sterling
silver are used. The whitegold foils is known in Venice as "Platino"
and is the same as in jewelry, it is an alloy of gold and other
white metals. This the same type foil which is used in applying
to statues, architecture and other gold decorated items. The bead
is started on the mandrel and then quickly this molten small center
of the bead is rolled over the tissue thin foil. A final coat of
clear of molten translucent glass completes the bead. Because the
gold is inside the bead, it will not peel or chip away. Beads with
the gold exterior simply do not have the final coat of clear glass
and with time and wear some of the gold or silver will wear off.
This is not a defect, it just enhances the overall effect of the
bead and is normal.
do you care for the glass beads?
Because the process of making beads is essentially a chemical process,
it's best to give the beads a good bath before working with them.
This way you will assure that there is no residue left on the beads.
This also makes them sparkle and shine. Soap and water work quite
well for glass to clean it. No need for stronger solutions.
are there rough edges around some of the holes and how can I fix
The beads are handworked on a mandrel. Sometimes little bits of
glass extend onto the mandrel, known as "stringers" this
is a natural occurrence. A beaders helper - a small round file -
available through most beading stores will help you rub the edges
to prevent them from cutting your threat. Or use a little very fine
sandpaper (400), but be sure to keep the bead wet while sanding
it or you will loose the shine.
is considered normal variation in Venetian Beads?
It is best to demonstrate some of the variations in Venetian Beads,
please click on the link to see Bead
Variations. It is normal for some gold to extend on the outside
of the beads, picturing that a round bead is rolled in the foil
then the shape is formed, and that in trying to keep the gold foil
from the outside, it is also possible that the gold or silver foil
does not extend to the complete end of the bead. The ends of the
beads whether they be cubes, squares, tubes, hearts or ovals are
subject to having an uneven ending. We recommend, bead reamers and
very fine sandpaper to smooth these off. Then of course beadcaps
can hide the uneven endings.
the sharp edges of the bead cut my thread?
Like pearls, the edges of the bead are sharp and can eventually
cut cotton or silk thread, and especially the stretch cords. Wires
with plastic coating outside are more sturdy and less likely to
be cut. This is probably why the traditional method of stringing
beads in Venice is like pearls with individual knots between each
bead, that way if one cuts, you do not loose the entire strand.
I special order beads?
We do work with manufacturers and designers who require special
designs or color beads. Special orders are only made in manufacturing
quantities due to the amount of coordination required to produce
the beads. Special orders require up to 3 months for production
and are not returnable (for other requirements, please contact us).
you have a printed catalog?
We do not have a printed catalog. We receive beads weekly and they
are added to the web as quickly as possible. We also sell out of
beads weekly and remove them from the web. While we know that everyone
enjoys a catalog to sit and look at the beads, it is impossible
for us to keep one current due to the overwhelming popularity of
you tell me where you buy beads in Venice?
Sorry, this is company proprietary information. We
have spent about 15 years developing our team of beadmakers. As
you might imagine, this has been a costly as well as lengthy process.
We have more than 35 different beadmaking teams (pendants/specialty
products). Many of our beadmakers speak no English and some only
the local dialect. So in addition to developing sources, we have
spent considerable time learning the languages. Some of our products
have taken over 2 years from concept to production. We work very
hard to bring you the best of Venetian and Murano beads.
I visit a bead factory in Venice?
Currently there are no beadmaking facilities open to the public
in Venice or Murano. Most of the work is done in small facilities,
few of the beadmakers speak English, and there is no room for tours.
You can, however, visit demonstration glass factories to wath glass
being blown (usually a small horse or other animal), which can be
found all over Murano or your hotel can arrange tours for you. If you are on a tour or with a cruise, you will be taken to a demonstration of all things Murano and Burano, these are for tourist only. We
invite you to view our short film clip from an actual studio in
Venice where you can see how the beads are made.
is the composition of Venetian (Murano) Glass?
Murano Glass, which includes the canes from Effetre Moretti
are Soda-Lime Glass. Soda-lime glass is primarily used for everyday
items decorative and utility such as our beads, sculptures, drinking
glasses, and window glass. It contains mainly these three ingredients:
approximately 60-75% silica, 12-18% soda, and 5-12% lime.
What Gauge Wire and Headpins will fit in Venetian Beads?
The quick answer is that wire gauge of anywhere from 19 and smaller (remember that with wire, the smaller the number the larger the wire, so here we mean 20, 22, 24, 26, 28 all work). Our beads have a nominal hole size of 1mm. 20 Gauge wire is 0.813. For the long answer visit our webpage: Wire Gauge and Bead Hole Sizes
Why are Findings NOT Returnable?
All findings are sold based on the metal content, silver and gold. We specify in each product it's exact content. We ship with confidence that these goods are as stated. Returned goods cannot be tested therefore become unless, which would increase pricing to all customers. If you have a question, contact us before ordering.
Why are Swarovski Crystals NOT Returnable?
Like our findings, our customers buy with confidence that our crystals are authentic Swarovski. Returned items cannot be tested or verified, therefore become useless. Again, this would pass increase cost on to all customers. Swarovski part numbers are standard, the quality is known, the sizing always the same. It is not practical or economical to everyone in the longrun. If you have a question, contact us prior to ordering.
Prop 65 (The below provided by Swarovski relating to the settlement
by the lead manufacturers in the 1990s.)
California residents. Proposition 65 Warning:
Consuming foods or beverages that have been kept or served in leaded
crystal products or handling products made of leaded crystal will
expose you to lead-a chemical known to the State of California to
cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. You may return this
product for a full refund within 30 days of receipt.
note this relates only to Swarovski Crystal sales to California
residents and is due sole to concern over the lead content in the
crystals. This does not negate our 14 day return policy stated elsewhere.)
Beadmaking Film scroll to the bottom and wait for the QuickTime
Movie to come up. You can even hear some Italian music as we work.