These antique Venetian white heart seed beads are uncommonly small for this style. The color is a beautiful shade of orange. They’re a size 11/0 or 12/0 seed bead and they string up to about 17-19 beads per inch. They have a tube shape – I’ve heard some people call this a type of cut bead, while others call them “unfinished” (meaning that they were cut from the cane, but never tumbled or finished to get the rounded edges). Their irregular size and shape attests to their handmade nature.
Also known as “Hudson Bay” or “Cornaline D’Allepo” beads, this style was produced in Italy from the early 1800s to the 1960s – though this particular stock dates from between the late 1800’s – early 1900’s. 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. Over the years these beads have acquired a lovely translucent patina.
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 #4
Size = 11/0 or 12/0 seed bead, approximately 17-19 beads per inch when strung
Quantity = 10 grams