Venetian beads are some of the most rare and prized beads in the world. Sources show that they have been used as trade beads as far back as the 14th century. Created in Venice, Italy, they are renowned for their extremely high level of craftsmanship, beautiful colors and intricate detail. However, in the 1620's, the Italian glass industry was moved to Murano, so there is difficulty in determining exactly from where each individual set of beads originates. Either way, it doesn't affect their value as they are still much sought after by collectors.
In order to create Venetian trade beads, glass artisans form the core of the bead by wrapping heated glass around a slim metal rod. When it cools, the glass contracts slightly and allows it to slide off the rod. To achieve a flower design, the artist must create a series of rods wrapped around in tight succession. When it cools, the result is a string of beads with many colors and sharp designs. By connecting the various colored glass together like this, this technique was known as 'fused glass'.
Newer strands can cost as little as $30 if you purchase replicas, but old and authentic Venetian glass beads cost anywhere from $70 - $200 per strand. On the other hand, if you are looking for more exotic venetian trade beads, you will need to venture in four figure sums. Because they are so rare and desired, antique and exotic trade beads can sell for up to $3,000 depending on where you purchase them. Unfortunately, today, there are many online stores selling Chinese-made replicas at the same prices as the authentic beads.
There is a lot of history and aesthetic value to these beads. They are a work of art rather than a mere fashion accessory. With every bead you wear, you carry a piece of history with you.