The One and Only Murano Millefiori Beads

Millefiori beads are the most famous Venetian beads. The name Murano millefiori beads comes from the fact that these beads were made using the world-famous Murano glass rods or canes. Millefiori in Murano millefiori beads comes from two Italian words, ‘mille’, meaning thousand, and ‘fiori’, meaning flowers.

History of Murano Millefiori Beads

Murano canes and rods were first used in the world of jewelry in the 9th century. The Murano canes and rods were first used to make millefiori beads in the 15th century. Over the years, the process of creating beads using Muranos has not changed.

Murano is a small town in the northern part of the Italian city of Venice. Murano has had a long history of glasswork. In years past, it was a large port and this allowed it to export tons of glass beads to Asia and Africa.

Murano millefiori beads were extensively used by Europeans to trade with Africans in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. The Africans valued these beads because they placed a lot of intrinsic value on decorative items. They used the beads to trade among each other, as a show of wealth, and for decorative purposes. In exchange for the beads, the Europeans got slaves, goods such as gold and ivory, and services.

Ermanno Toso led a shift on the Murano glass industry toward the end of 1930. The theme of the beads, and other millefiori products, became more modern.

How Murano Millefiori Beads are made

The artisans making Murano millefiori beads go through many years as apprentices before they can open up shop. This is because Murano millefiori beads are hand made and skills and patience are required.

To create Murano millefiori beads, a small, rough molten glass globe is made. The globule is placed on the end of a steel pole and dipped into molten glass made from different colors. This gives a multi-colored layered sphere that grows in size after each dipping.

This sphere is pushed into moulds made from Murano canes to give the millefiori shape. Note that although Murano canes or rods look plain from the outside, the inside has intricate floral patterns. Other common patterns in these canes or rods are geographical shapes and stars.

After this, the sphere is dipped into transparent molten glass for a round and shiny exterior since the mold gives it an embossed finish.

A long steel pole is attached to the end of the sphere and when the glass melts, it is gently pulled into a rod of the desired thickness. The rod is then sliced into the desired size to give Murano millefiori beads.

While the beads are still semi-molten, they are placed in frames to give them a smoother feel and to create other desired effects. After this, the piece is placed in a kiln with a pre-determined temperature and annealing is done to give the glass strength.

Murano millefiori beads are usually bright-colored and the beads are usually longer than the conventional beads.

Buying Murano Millefiori Beads

The craftsmanship and design of Murano millefiori beads comes at a cost. Beads that come at a low price should sound warning signs. Ancient Murano millefiori beads are more expensive than what is being produced today.

There are many copies of Murano millefiori beads today. To tell the difference, look at uniqueness – genuine beads are unique. Ancient Murano millefiori beads are unlikely to be in their initial condition. If possible, the expert advice of a jeweler should be sought, especially when buying expensive ancient Murano millefiori beads.

To fight counterfeits, mostly from Asia, Promovetro, which is a consortium of Murano glassmakers, has generated a trademark for all Murano millefiori products. The trademark is registered with the EU.

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