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How Venetian Glass Beads Are Made

Updated on March 13, 2015
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I've always loved creativity. In art and craftwork, I can embroider, knit, crochet, make clothes and earrings, paint, draw, and decorate.

How Venetian Glass or Murano Glass Beads are made, with their beautiful bright colours and intricate designs

These wonderfully vivid beads have been prized since the the 1400's for their distinctive appearance and the particular method used to create them and have even been used as a form of trading currency. I first became interested in how they were made after choosing a varied selection of beads to follow my hobby of designing and crafting earrings myself.

I use all types of beads, including glass, metal, wood and even plastic, but the colours in the Italian glass beads make them stand out, and sometimes they need no further decoration or addition, just the pin to connect them to the silver or gold hooks.

On the left is a photograph of blue Venetian glass bead earrings which I designed and made myself.

I am selling a lot of similar murano glass bead earrings in my Etsy store called Glorious Confusion , in the section labelled Glass Beads

See the Unique Earrings I Have Designed - Listed on the Right Hand Side of This Page

All handmade and very cheap

Mandrel used to manufacture glass beads
Mandrel used to manufacture glass beads

Artisans use a mandrel to manufacture the beads

A Mandrel is a metal rod.

To form the core of the bead, heated glass is wrapped around a thin metal rod. When cooled, the glass contracts, causing the centre to open sufficiently for the bead to slide off the inner rod.

Venetian glass paperweights
Venetian glass paperweights

Later, Venetian Glass beads were used for various decorative art objects

such as Victorian English jewellery

including earrings, necklaces and bracelets and also doorknobs and paperweights, all of which are often seen in antique shops

Image: Wikimedia Commons

millefiore bead
millefiore bead

How Venetian Glass Beads Are Made

Using coloured glass rods heated and then cooled

In the 14th Century, beautiful hand-crafted beads with vivid colours and intricate designs and distinctive floral appearance were used by Venetians as trading currency in Europe and Africa.

In the 1620's, the main Italian glass industry moved to Murano and the beads are now known interchangeably as Murano or Venetian glass. They are also sometimes called fused glass is because of the technique used to apply the coloured glass to the glass core.

To make floral beads

glass artisans first create a series of glass rods comprised of a centre covered with thinner rods around the outside.

The composite rods are heated and stretched until they have the smallest possible diameter.

turquoise flower bead
turquoise flower bead

Floral Beads

Heating and stretching to form a flower design

Looked at from the end, the resulting design resembles a flower. After cooling, the rods are thinly sliced and the slices are then melded into a glass bead to create intricate floral designs of vivid colours.

Beautiful Silver Blue Venetian Glass Heart Earrings - An attractive present for one you love

The colours are heavenly, and the style is easy to fit all sizes

Lova Jewelry “Hearts of Silver” Hand-Blown Venetian Murano Glass Drop Earrings
Lova Jewelry “Hearts of Silver” Hand-Blown Venetian Murano Glass Drop Earrings
There is a huge discount, and it would make an ideal present - expensive-looking, but actually fairly cheap
glass beads round striped
glass beads round striped

How Particular Types of Glass Beads are Made:

There are several different kinds of glass beads

Have a look at the ones opposite. I have made earrings with striped glass, but have not got any transparent ones like these ones, which I found during my research - I will have to see if I can find some now, as they are very attractive, aren't they?

 Lampwork beads
Lampwork beads


A wound glass bead is formed

by winding molten glass around copper wire heated over a lamp

 Mosaic beads
Mosaic beads


Mosaic beads are composed entirely of colourful fused segments of glass cane,

which is a long drawn rod of glass.

The intricate and detailed work on the beads opposite is breathtaking - what skill!

millefiore beads
millefiore beads


Layers of colourful glass are fused in cross section and melted onto the surface of a bead.

The resulting surface might look like flowers, faces, an abstract pattern, or even a realistic scene. For instance, two layers of different-colour glass, might be rolled up like a jelly roll, and then sliced.

metal and Swarowski crystal beads
metal and Swarowski crystal beads

Swarovski Crystal:

These are leaded (crystal) glass beads with a very high brilliance

They are called after Daniel Swarovski, born in Bohemia in 1862, who invented a machine to cut glass.

The earrings opposite are made with Swarovski crystal beads and cut-out brass beads - one of my own designs which I am selling on my Etsy website

Chevron beads
Chevron beads


This bead is formed by a drawn-out layered glass block sectioned into beads;

Their ends are cut or ground down to create a zigzag pattern, usually blue with white and red stripes.



The glass blower blows into a glass tube that has a small piece of molten glass on the end, which is turned over heat until the bead reaches the desired size

Amazon sells quite a lot of Venetian Glass jewelry and also books about Venetian Glass - Take a look at this gorgeous item

If you click on it, you will be transported through to the Amazon website, where you can browse, and maybe you will find a nice present for someone (or for yourself)

Chuvora 925 Sterling Silver Hand Blown Glass Red Blue Yellow Gold Curve Dangle Earrings
Chuvora 925 Sterling Silver Hand Blown Glass Red Blue Yellow Gold Curve Dangle Earrings
The colors on these Murano glass earings are wonderful - I love the intricate designs
Silver and red Murano bead earrings
Silver and red Murano bead earrings | Source

Take a Poll: Would you give cheap earrings? - Cheap and attractive, that is........the ones in this photo cost only about $8.00

......see how you match up against other pollsters

Do we have prejudices against giving cheap presents to our nearest and dearest, even if they look lovely (the earrings, that is, not your beloved)?

Are you a present snob? Or do you like to buy cheap things that look expensive?

Would you buy jewellery that costs less than a bottle of Baileys, like the ones above?

See results

How Murano Venetian Glass is Made - See the videos on YouTube

Just a few videos to give you an idea of how glass bead making is done

We could even start a discussion (in Italian or Latin, naturally, bearing in mind the subject matter)


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