Background on Murano Glass Beaded Jewelry & Styles

Murano glass beads

Bead collectors, jewelry makers, and those who enjoy wearing lampwork beads all prize Murano glass beaded jewelry.

About Murano Glass Beaded Jewelry

Murano Island is an island in the Venetian Lagoon near Venice, Italy and has been a commercial trading port since the seventh century. It wasn't until sometime during the tenth century that the glassmakers on the island became renowned for their unique and artistic glasswork. The wealthy admired Murano glass, which quickly became a status symbol. Over the centuries, this beautiful glass became an important part of Italian culture.

Murano glassmaking is probably one of the most complex glassmaking processes and isn't for the impatient artisan. The majority of Murano glass is made with what's known as the lampwork technique. Lampwork requires melting the glass at very high temperatures and then allowing it to harden in various intervals so it can be shaped into desired forms. As you might suspect, along with the special techniques, there's also a very specific process for creating the Murano glass bead colors. The signature technique of Murano glass is the distinctive layering of various colored glass stretched into canes, also known as rods.

The glassmaker must first create the canes he uses. The Murano colors are just as distinct as the techniques, and the glassworkers mix chemical compounds to create these outstanding colors. Murano glassworkers use air pump burners or torches. They create a mandrel, which is a metal rod. They twirl and wrap the softened canes around the iron mandrel used as the base for the formation of the bead. True to the Murano techniques, the lampworkers then layer the colors onto the bead. The Murano artisans even create imitation gemstones out of glass. The centuries-old traditions of Murano glassmaking is still alive today in factories and individual studios.

You'll find jewelry featuring these exciting Murano lampwork bead styles:

  • Aventurine beads feature colored glass with gold threads running through it.
  • Chevron beads, also known as "Rosetta beads," use a 14th century design created with a hollow cane and six layers of glass in the following order: white, blue, white, red, white, and blue. Once the cane cools, the glassworker grinds it into a star with 12 points. Next, the glassworker slices the cane into beads. The cutting process produces a red, white and blue zigzag effect.
  • Filigree beads, also known as "Venetian blown beads," are created when glassworkers blow the melted canes. Glassmakers often create filigree striped beads by using two or three canes together.
  • Fiorato beads, also known as "wedding cake beads," feature several color overlays and cake decoration motifs, such as roses, dots, leaves, swirls, bells, and other wedding icons.
  • Lattimo beads feature opaque, milky glass colors.
  • Millefiori beads, also known as "lace beads," display amazing multi-colored flowers encased within glass. Glassworkers create these designs by heating the Murrine canes and then wrapping them into a star shape. Craftsmen use a wider range of colors to give a flower effect when the cane is cut into individual beads.
  • Murrine beads are made of multi-colored glass canes.
  • Smalto beads feature enameled glass.
  • Sommerso beads are named for the production technique of submerging beads in molten glass to create an outer layer of color.

Jewelry designers make necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other jewelry pieces using these beautiful beads.

Where to Buy

Whether you want to make your own jewelry form Murano beads or you prefer to purchase a necklace, you can find just about any kind of Murano glass beaded jewelry online:

The following sites offer beads:

These sites offer beaded jewelry:


Each unique Murano bead is a statement about the one-of-a-kind tradition of Italian glassmaking. Murano glass beaded jewelry pieces are works of art you're sure to treasure for years to come.

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