Chevron beads

Chevron Beads

Chevron Beads (also known as “rosetta” beads, or simply “Chevrons”) are a type of Venetian Trade Bead produced in Murano and Venice, Italy, from the 14th to 19th Century. Venetian Chevrons are categorized as ‘drawn’ beads; created by fusing multiple glass canes which are shaped using specialist star molds. This creates a distinctive star shape around the perforation hole (usually comprising 4-7 colored layers), which is often referred to as a “rosetta”. Chevron Beads produced during the 15th Century typically had 7 layered colors and 6 facets.

Chevron Bead ZSM/

Chevron Bead ZSM/

Chevron Beads comprise numerous layers of colored glass. The core of the bead, which will later form the perforation, is created from a single globule of molten glass, known as the “gather”. While still hot, the gather is immersed into a star shape mold to add the first layer of color. This process is repeated to achieve each colored layer. After several colors have been layered consecutively, the glass is drawn out, or pulled with a cane to elongate the rod, which is then cut whilst hot to form the beads. The end of the beads are then chamfered or ground to reveal the star pattern in the cross section. Early Chevron Beads were almost always red, white and blue in color.

Venetian Chevrons are among the earliest known types of beads to be produced in Venice for trade in West Africa. They were primarily intended for use as currency in unexplored territories, such as the Republic of the Congo, where merchants would exchange them for favors, animal pelts, slaves and spices. A number of small, 7 layer Chevron Beads dating back to the 15th Century have been found in Peru, and were believed to have been introduced by Christopher Colombus. Today, classic 7-layer Chevron Beads are the most highly collectible.


Gallery of Trade Beads, Ezakwantu

Chevron Beads, Wikipedia

Venetian Trade Beads

Venetian Millefiori Beads

1920s Millefiori Beads. Evelyn S.

“Venetian trade beads” (also referred to as “Murano beads”, or simply “trade beads”) is a collective term used to describe glass beads of varying design originally produced in Venice, Italy, between the 13th and 20th Centuries. They were intended as a basic form of currency, to be exchanged with tribal leaders for spices, furs, gold and slaves, as merchants sought out new avenues for trade in Africa.

Prior to the trade era, numerous glass-makers were known to be producing glass beads in the Rio Alto and Dorsudoro districts of the city on a commission-only basis. As overseas demand grew, the Maggior Consulio (Great Council) realized the great fire risk posed by the glass-making guilds to the city. In 1291, they decreed that all guilds had to be moved to Murano (hence the name), a series of islands in the Venetian Lagoon. Here, under the strict control of the Council, production flourished. Glass-makers developed innovative techniques, such as lampworking and Perle a Lume, to create some of the most ornate beads imaginable.

Chevron Bead

Venetian Chevron. Evelyn S.

Distinguished by their striped patina, Chevron (or Rosetta) Beads were among the earliest known decorative beads to be produced in Murano. They are made by fusing rods of colored glass (known as “murrine”) around a single hollow cane, creating a layered rosetta, or star, around the central perforation. The oldest surviving examples date back to the 14th Century, and are red, white and blue in color. Chevron beads are aesthetically similar to 18th Century Venetian King Beads, however the latter are almost always biconical in shape.

Millefiori (meaning “thousand flower”) was the name given to a style of Venetian trade bead produced in the 18th Century. Characterized by beautiful floral mosaics, these decorative beads were highly coveted among African tribes in the 19th Century. They are made in a similar way to the earlier Chevrons, however, the canes are pulled thin whilst still hot to achieve variations in size.


Trade Beads. Boone Trading.

Trade Beads. Wikipedia.

Millefiori. Wikipedia

History of Venetian Glassmaking. BigBeadLittleBead