By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
If you have a modern charm bracelet, chances are you’ve collected some beautiful glass charms for it. And chances are they are Venetian glass beads. Pandora, one of the most popular charm bracelet companies, offers these glass treasures with sterling silver end caps starting at $40 each.
Not all Venetian beads for sale today are official Pandora charms with engraved sterling end caps. Many are made for other charm bracelet companies like Trollbeads and some don’t have metal end caps at all. However, regardless of whom these beads were made for, they all have two things in common:
Venetian glass beads (or Murano glass beads as they are also referred to) have been coveted across globe since the 12th century. During that century, Venice became a powerful world trade hub. Exquisite Venetian glass beads, easily stored and transported, made their way to every known foreign port.
Glassmakers started mastering their techniques in Venice around the 9th or 10th centuries. They perfected their craft over hundreds of years before the outside world really became aware of it. Some of their most beautiful beads have bits of copper suspended in them that catch every ray of sunlight and sparkle from every angle.
Another technique by which breathtaking Venetian beads are made is the lamp-work technique. It involves the glassmaker heating a long, thin cane of glass until he can wind it around a wire. Each lamp-worked bead is wound several times and shaped along the way with another glass rod. Bits of multi-colored glass can be added for external decoration. (Venetian beads with external decoration are often referred to as wedding cake beads.) All design work must be done while the glass is still hot.
Venetian glass beads are still highly collectible and sought after today. Your amazing Murano glass bead charms are made by master Venetian glassmakers utilizing centuries old techniques. Of course, you can find some bargains on ebay for these lovely glass beads. You can also find vintage and antique strands of Venetian glass beads for sale right in your own local antique and flea markets. These strands are often a bargain since many sellers don’t realize their provenance. Happy Hunting!
(While writing this article, I referred to the fascinating book Beads of the World, Revised 2nd Edition by Peter Francis, Jr. (1999 Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Atglen, PA). It is a must have for bead lovers and lovers of jewelry history! And no. I was not paid to endorse this book in any way.)
Do you collect Venetian glass jewelry or charms? Tell us about it in the comments section and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog if you love vintage and antique jewelry as much as we do!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry blogs and web pages for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her fiancé. Would you like to hire her? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms and more information.
About This Blog:
The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!