Murano glass jewelry has a long and colorful history. The origins of Murano glass can be pinpointed all the way back to the Roman Empire in the 8th century. At that time, molded glass was used in communal bathhouses for lighting purposes. In the 1200’s, the island of Murano became the glassmaking center of the world, and a dynasty of sorts was born. The Glassmakers Guild was formed at that time, and its members were encouraged, if not required, to keep secret the exact methods and formulas used in the making of their beautiful Murano glass pieces.
Murano Glass Uses
Jewelry is not the only thing that is made with Murano glass. Along with Murano glass beads, Murano glass pendants and Murano glass rings, many decorative and functional items are made with this gorgeous glass. Murano glass chandeliers and vases are also extremely popular, and can be found in finer homes worldwide. Mosaics called Murrino are also made with Murano glass, and even small statues can be fashioned from it.
Techniques Used for Murano Glass Jewelry
There are many ways that Murano glass can be created. The most common techniques used in Murano glass jewelry are Millefiori and Avventurina, and Calcedonio. Fenicio is also sometimes used in jewelry designs.
- Millefiori: To create glass with this technique, glass rods (called canes) are made with long strands of different colored glass. When placed together in the correct pattern and looked at crosswise, the resulting pattern looks like a flower. Many of these canes are rolled together, and thus a millefiori, or “a thousand flowers” pattern emerges when the large cane is then cut crosswise. Murano glass pendants are especially beautiful when made with this technique.
- Avventurina: Murano glass made in this way has a shimmering, sparkly look to it. Metal particles, usually copper and other oxidized metal, are embedded into the glass. It is very difficult to achieve perfectly clear glass (sometimes clear colored glass is used) with this technique. Earrings and rings that move frequently while being worn are especially stunning when designed with Avventurina Murano glass.
- Calcedonio: Made to mimic the look of the natural stone chalcedony (kal-sid’-ney). Polychromatic veins run through the darker colored glass with this style.
- Fenicio: This type of Murano glass resembles feathers or “festoons” when it is done correctly. When used to make charms, pendants and dangles that look like various animals, this type of glass makes beautiful jewelry.
Modern glassmakers in Murano are constantly devising new ways to use Murano glass, but some of the old techniques mentioned above are still the best ones for use in jewelry designs. The millefiori technique is used in Pandora charms, and makes some of the most colorfully gorgeous beads for Pandora charm bracelets. When combined with gold, silver and sometimes gemstones, the result is beautifully fun, sometimes whimsical, and always stunning Murano glass jewelry!
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