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The Fine Art of Selecting Authentic Venetian Glass Jewelry (and catching the copycats)

I think everyone can agree that it’s the classic pieces in their jewelry collection that are their favorites. There are jewelry fads aplenty these days, where your jewelry becomes outdated in just a year! What I love about Murano Venetian Glass jewelry is that it’s timeless, yet still unique and memorable and full of history. When I am wearing one of my Venetian glass pieces, people are always stopping me to ask “where did you get that?” or to compliment me.

Wearing a Piece of History

Like an antique armoire where artisans have spent hours carving it into the perfect piece, gorgeous Murano Venetian Glass beads are individual works of art where no two are exactly alike. This art began in 1291 on the Italian island of Murano where these luxury beads were exclusively made. The island was a perfect location for two main reasons; first, if a fire were to break out, it would be secluded to the island only; second, the secrecy of their glass trade was able to be closely monitored.  It was so exclusive that these talented glassmakers weren’t allowed to leave the Republic without forfeiting their permit to practice the trade of Murano glass making. If they did chose to leave they were never allowed to return. 

The trade did have perks though – these glass artisans were immune from prosecution and became important members of society, often marrying off their daughters into Venice’s most prominent families. This is especially amusing to me because my Dad is a sculptural glassblower (shown below), so back then, if he would have made Venetian glass, I would’ve been married to a wealthy figure of society!

Even today their methods are secrets, passed down for generations like private family recipes. Glassblower Jim YarritoGlassblower Jim YarritoGlassblower Jim Yarrito

*Photos are of my dad, Jim Yarrito taken by Tammy Clarkson

Catching the Copycats

It’s no surprise to me when I find fake Venetian Glass in department stores. Since these beads are so desirable, they are being counterfeited in places like China and India. These mass-produced fakes are noticeably inferior because unlike the real thing, they are formed in large quantities on a steel mandrel coated in a liquid releasing agent that leaves a powdery white coating in the hole. Look out for that tell-tale sign to make sure that you don’t end up with fake Venetian glass.

Secrets to Spotting Real Murano Venetian Glass

This art of authentic Venetian glass bead making uses the century-old process of hand-forming a single glass bead on a copper wire. To remove the wire and leave a clean hole through the glass, the wire is dissolved out of the bead using nitric acid. It requires a crazy amount of patience, creativity, and an eye for detail.

One of the signature style of Murano Venetian glass is the eye catching precious metal lining of solid yellow and white gold on the inside of the bead; giving each piece an enchanting glow from within. When solid gold comes in contact with the nitric acid, from time to time (not all pieces will have this), it turns the area around the bead hole a “bronzy” copper color, this is considered normal and a sign that precious metals have been used (which is a good thing).

Murano Venice Italy lagoon photo by Kevin PohWho would’ve thought there could be so much history behind what seems like a simple glass bead?! I love that the beads I use in my jewelry designs have such a great story. Next time you’re looking for some new jewelry or a special gift, try Authentic Murano Venetian Glass – it’s equally as unique and special as it is beautiful.

*Image of Murano Venice Italy lagoon photo by Kevin Poh

Piqued your interest? If you have any questions about Murano Venetian Glass, shoot me a comment – I’d love to talk to you more about it.