Glass is a manmade material comprised mainly of silicon dioxide, plus other ingredients like sodium carbonate, calcium oxide, magnesium oxide, and aluminum oxide. Glass is used to make beads in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
While some glass beads are just that – glass – other glass beads have unique qualities that set them apart.
African Recycled Glass
African recycled glass starts off as one or more glass bottles that are broken into fragments, which are then poured into clay molds. The molds are cooked in a traditional kiln at 800 – 1000 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes. These beautifully colored, irregularly-shaped beads are primarily made in the Krobo mountains of Ghana.
Still curious? Check out a video about Garbe Mohammed, the Bead Man of Ghana.
Czech glass beads are made in the Jablonec nad Nisou area of the Czech Republic. The Czech republic has been making glass beads since the 14th century – so they’ve gotten really good at it!
Crystal (also known as lead glass) is produced by adding lead and other minerals to liquid glass to give the finished glass more sparkle. The more lead you add to the glass, the more sparkle in your crystal – and the more expensive your bead! Swarovski, based in Austria, is the most famous maker of lead glass jewelry. Curiously, the founder of Swarovski, Daniel Swarovski, was born in what is now the Czech Republic.
Venetian glass has been made in Italy for over 1,500 years, but really got going in the 13th century on the Italian island of Murano. Murano is known for creating some of the finest glass in the world, and was the source of milk glass – a white-colored glass found in many antique stores.
Murano beads MORE
Millefiori is a type of Murano glass with distinctive decorative patterns on glass. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).