These vintage white heart seed beads are uncommonly small for this style. I’m not sure if this color is Italian or French, but I do know that they’re older beads. The color is a beautiful and unusual turquoise blue. They’re a size 12/0 or 13/0 seed bead and they string up to about 20-22 beads per inch. Their irregular size and shape attests to their handmade nature.
Original Italian white hearts were also known as “Hudson Bay” or “Cornaline D’Allepo” beads, this style was produced in Italy from the early 1800s to the 1960s. The name “white heart” references the core of white glass at the center of the bead. Back then, red glass was made using real gold, so these beads were very expensive to produce. In order to conserve the red/gold glass, it was wound around a white core. When strung, the white is hardly visible – but if you lay the beads with the hole facing up, you can see the white at the heart of each bead. This style was reproduced in France during the 1970’s and 80’s. Again – in the case of the two blue shades that I carry, I’m not 100% sure of provenance – I only know that they’re old stock.
Whitehearts were used in the African bead trade, and they are often seen in old Native American beadwork as well. Because of how they were traded around the world, they’re often referred to as “trade beads”. Whether it is due to their history or their beauty, these old and uncommon beads are quite collectible.
In the photos that show a palette, this is the color marked #5
Size = 12/0 or 13/0 seed bead, approximately 20-22 beads per inch when strung
Quantity = 10 grams