Old, Vintage, and Antique Millefiori Beads

Antique millefiori beads are millefiori beads that were made and used many years ago. There are many companies making millefiori beads today through mass-production and through the ancient methods, but most people want antique millefiori beads.

History of antique millefiori beads

Millefiori beads were extensively used from mid 18th century to early 19th century. These are what we call antique millefiori beads. The beads were commissioned by different Europeans for use in Africa. Europeans used the beads to win the hearts of Africans before colonization and to trade with the Africans for slaves, goods such as gold, rhino horns, tortoiseshells, pig iron, and ivory, and different services.

The Europeans had no intention of trading with Africans for money and the Africans did not have any use for currency. They placed high intrinsic value in beautiful millefiori beads and they used them as decorations and as currency. Africans had a history of using beads such as beads made from ostrich eggshell in East Africa, gold beads in the Ashanti kingdom of Ghana, metal beads by North African Berber women, stone beads from the former kingdom of Benin, and several others. This history made the Africans readily accepted millefiori beads.

The extensive use of millefiori beads, which also went by the names trade beads and slave beads, ended in the early 1900s when Africa was colonized and Africans needed currency to trade.

Reasons for the Popularity of Antique Millefiori Beads

Antique millefiori trade beads are very popular today. The popularity started in towards the end of 1960s and in the 1970s when a lot of people stated travelling by air as a result of developments in the industry, development of tourism, increased awareness of what other parts of the world had to offer as a result of growth of television and radio, and a population that had a lot more disposable income. The hippies were particularly interested in exploring different parts of the world and when they went to Africa, they brought back millefiori beads and started using them as jewels and as accessories. The trend caught on and traders started bringing them to the west.

Antique millefiori beads are not readily available and just like anything that is in short supply and high demand, they are very expensive. The high price which is appreciating by 10 percent annually and the fact that the beads are used as collector items has only served to increase the hype.

People are going for antique millefiori beads for sentimental reasons. People who understand and appreciate why they are made, such as descendants of slaves, want to own the real thing.

Antique millefiori beads are popular because they are beautiful, they can be used in different occasions with different dresses, they make great gifts, they are stylish, and they are cheaper compared to the alternatives which are precious metals and precious stones.

Facts about Antique Millefiori Beads

All Antique millefiori beads were made from multi-colored glass. The term ‘millefiori’ is Italian for one thousand flowers.

The beads are made from canes or rods called murrine that have floral patterns on the inside. This means all ancient millefiori beads are unique.

Most of the antique millefiori beads were made in the Italian city of Venice, specifically in a small Venetian town called Murano.

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