The production of these beads with the lustre coatings to resemble natural pearls began in about 1937, along with the beginning of the "Costume Jewelry" industry in the US. The attraction of these pearlized beads was naturally that they were much less expensive than real pearls.
Like many of the developments in bead production in Murano and in Venice, this began with the famous Moretti family. It seems that a gentleman from what was then Czechosolovakia arrived in Murano with a proposition to produce beads for his company.
Now this the part I find interesting as this is probably the first time anyone brought to Murano any new technology as the previous centuries all the glass works around Europe had stolen the "know how" from Venice & Murano. As you trace the history of glass in Europe, and the legend of the move from Venice to Murano, it was all about keeping the "secrets of the glass" from the rest of Europe and the world.
The gentlemen was from the Societa Conterie & Cristallerie and he arrived with a very small jar of "Oriental Essence", a paste which had been used in Czechosolovakia to apply the exterior coatings, called "vernice" in Italian. This coating was made of crushed fish scales from a particular fish found only in Asia (and thus the name "oriental" beads. Norbetto and Iginio Moretti began the project of how to produce the same effect in Murano. Their kitchen became the laboratory for this secret project. With the only books available on technology, they tried a sundry of methods until they came upon the use of cinematographic film melted in acetone and the little bottle of paste adhered to the beads. Reels of film were purchased and a new era in costume jewelry had begun for the Muranese and Milano! Weekly shipments were arranged to Milano to keep pace with the creation of the "bijoux" of Venice which had become the rage. A picture of a typical Pearlized Necklace is here.
Each Bead was carefully stuck on the nails, separated for drying and racks of nail beds sat waiting for the girls to prepare the beads for their lustre dip.
The tool below assured that each bead got the same amount of coating, separated so they dried evenly. Ingenious, the Muranese have always been very self-sufficient living on the small island away from the mainland and in those days more than 20 minutes from Venice. But eventually the Asian countries began this production and undercut the market in Italy.
Income for the families of Venice & Murano
Here the girls are shown as they add each bead. They arrived each morning from Venice, Murano and even Burano to work and this work provided for the families during the war years as well.