These antique Venetian white heart seed beads are a gorgeous mix of deep burgundy and rich plum. Please note that despite my best efforts to capture good true to color photos, the color on these is darker and deeper than the photos suggest. They’re a size 9/0 seed bead and each bead measures approximately 1-2 mm. They string up to about 14-16 beads per inch, and 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.
To help you visualize their size and scale, the beads are shown with a ruler and a US dime (which measures 18 mm). The plastic bag pictured measures 2″ x 2″ and holds 10 grams of beads, the wire sections have 1″ of beads strung on them.
Size = 9/0 seed bead, approximately 14-16 beads per inch when strung