Before I went to Venice & the island of Murano, I was warned that real Murano glass beads are hard to find. I also read that many shops were selling imported beads from China which were labeled as Venetian or Murano-style glass beads. But, I wanted to go see for myself. After about a day or so, I located a bead shop which was not far from my hotel on the main island of Venice.
The above shop, Perle e Dintorni, is not far from Campo San Stefano. I spoke with the store clerk who pointed out which beads were Murano glass and which beads weren’t. Beads in jars along the back of the store were Venetian or Murano glass, and strands in the windows came from Czech Republic, France, Germany, or Africa. Materials included glass, paper, stone, or wood. Most prices were per bead, but there was also a mixed selection of beads which were sold by weight. This shop was lovely. I bought a few beads there, but I really wanted to wait until I went to Murano.
Bead shopping on Murano was tough at first. Most shops on the island only sell artist-made Murano glass beaded jewelry, but I wanted to find loose beads! I asked around on the island, but I found it best to just look in every shop. I quickly learned that many jewelry shops also had a drawer or two filled with loose pendants & beads. Many of these shops also had signs up which stated that they did not sell Chinese beads. Then, finally, just around the corner from the Glass Museum, I found a shop which was lined from top to bottom with containers full of Murano glass beads!
Large & small, beads are priced per piece. Given the exchange rate, many of these beads are quite expensive, but they are genuinely beautiful. Here, I marveled at all of the large beads, but I bought mostly small ones that I could use in my bead embroidery projects.
Back on the main island, I noticed the same thing. Many small jewelry shops also sold a few loose beads and pendants. I also found one shop near the Accademia Bridge which sold jewelry made from antique mille fiori glass beads, but these pieces were quite pricey! And then there were shops which showed off their collection of antique Murano glass beads, but stated that they were not for sale. :(
Bead shopping in Venice is a bit like going on a treasure hunt. It’s fun & exciting to wander the skinny streets along the canals looking for beads. When you do find a bead shop, buy the beads you like then, because you may never find your way back! I may not find my way back to the same shops, but I will find my way back to Venice, because the bead shopping experience there is like none other! =:D