With an endless array of stunning colors and unique designs, Murano glass beads are a beautiful choice for many different types of jewelry.
If you're new to the world of these gorgeous beads, there are several different types that each have their own distinguishing features.
Read on to learn more about the variety of Murano glass beads available so you can decide which style suits you best.
A Brief History of Murano Glass Beads
These beautiful beads are known worldwide for their stunning colors and clarity. The beads were originally called "conterie," which is a word that originates in Venice. You may also hear these mystical beads referred to as Venetian glass beads.
For centuries, these stunning beads have been worn as jewelry in may forms. Whether it's a pair of earrings or an elegant necklace, the wealthy could be seen sporting Murano glass jewelry hundreds of years ago.
The history of these beads is hard to decipher, but many indigenous tribes have been known to wear them. Because of colonization by the Spanish, French, Dutch, and English, the beads were given to the natives as gifts or tokens of peace.
Some historians believe that Murano glass beads were given to tribes in order to take them over and conquer their native lands. Others feel they were given as a token of friendship. Regardless, it's clear that Murano glass beads have been a part of the world's history for many, many centuries.
- Seed Beads
Thanks to their tiny seed-like size, seed beads are a wonderful choice for jewelry making. These tiny glass beads come in a myriad of colors that range from sunny yellows to rich reds and vibrant blue.
Seed beads are crafted using a long, thin rod made of hollow glass that can be several yards in length. The maker cuts the rod into tiny pieces, and the small hole in the middle makes it easy to string to make bracelets, necklaces, and more.
After the seed Murano glass beads are cut, they are fired until the glass starts to soften slightly. This process is what gives the tiny beads a smooth, rounded edge and helps to remove any leftover glass or rough edges.
Once the beads are cooled, they're hand-cut and might be made in slightly different shapes and sizes. The beauty of seed beads is that authentic ones have a unique appearance as opposed to mass-produced beads.
Every real Murano glass seed bead has its own unique look. The itty-bitty beads are perfect for making dainty and colorful necklaces and bracelets since they're easy to string.
- Chevron Glass Beads
The first chevron glass beads were made in Venice and Murano, Italy near the end of the 14th century. You may also hear chevron beads referred to as rosetta or star beads.
Chevron beads start out as glass canes that are shaped using star-shaped molds and often contain several layers of alternating colors. Most Murano chevron beads have about six different facets, but older designs may contain four to size layers of color.
Today, these intricate beads are still made in various regions of Italy. What makes these stunning beads so unique is their multiple layers of colored glass. The cored of the bead consists of a molten ball of glass called a gather that is melted in an extremely hot furnace.
Once the glass is melted, the glassmaker blows an air bubble into the center using a blowpipe to create an opening. This opening is what makes the colorful glass design a bead used in jewelry making.
Chevron beads were first used by Dutch merchants as far back as the late 15th century. Many of the first beads were exported to West Africa and the Americas and featured layers of white, blue, and red or green, black, and yellow.
- Lampwork Beads
Perhaps one of the most well-known styles of glass beads, lampwork refers to the Venetian addition known as "lume," which translates to "at the lamp." These unique beads are worked directly over a flame, and the same technique has been used to make them for thousands of years.
Lampwork beads can have an elongated, ovular shape or they may be stout and round. You can also find Murano glass lampwork beads made in squares and many other designs.
The labor-intensive process to make lampwork beads involves first creating the core of the glass bead using a furnace to melt the material. Next, the delicate bead is re-heated using a lamp (or blowtorch today) to create fine wisps of colored glass.
As the heated glass begins to soften, artists delicately move sections of the glass away from the core to give it multiple layers of color and texture. Additional pieces of glass can be added to create a new design and more color to the bead.
Beautiful Beads of Glass
From tiny seed beads to lampwork and chevron, there are plentiful styles of Murano glass beads to choose from. This age-old process involves a skilled hand and a dedication to the craft to produce awe-inspiring jewelry.
With a rich history, it's easy to see why these stunning beads are still so popular today. Whether it's a seed bead necklace or a lampwork glass bead bracelet, nothing compares to the beauty of authentic Murano glass.
To shop our selection of beads and much more, visit our website or contact us today for more information about our beads and accessories.