Glass bead-making has been important in Venice since the time of Marco Polo. Venetian craftsmen are believed to have been inspired by the carved pearls that Marco Polo brought back from the East. Although the industry began as a way to imitate Asian designs, it has since evolved into a distinctly Venetian art form.
Millefiori Beads – If you've heard of Venetian beads, you've probably heard of them. Millefiori translates to "thousand flowers" in Italian. Each fashionable bead uses several thin slices of glass cans, each with a particular pattern or design. Glass cans are now available in many designs and patterns, such as the COE90 Twisted Cane.
These tiny pieces of glass freeze into pearls of astonishing variety and beauty. Each glass cane is shaped with an image or pattern inside which is visible only from the tip.
You can think of it as a refrigerator cookie, only much smaller and made of glass. Flowers and other landscapes are popular designs for these glass canes, but there are endless variations possible.
Mosaic Beads – Mosaic beads also use glass canes, but instead of having a pattern inside the glass cans, pillars are used to create the design directly on top of the mosaic. Very fine and small glass cans are used to keep the color one point at a time. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to make these beads.
Floral Beads – Like Millifiori Beads, Floral Beads are made from small slices of glass cane. These canes have a color pattern inside and are joined with another piece of glass as a base. This creates a repeating color pattern on the face of the pearl.