Unusual rings, earrings, necklaces and other jewelry made from glass and sterling silver. These accessories transform your look and help to establish your style. This is the perfect gift for those who appreciate the uniqueness and gorgeous design.Continue reading about Silver and Glass Jewellery below.
Silver and Glass Jewellery
The oldest and most popular jewellery - necklaces and bracelets - were invented in the ancient cities of Sumer, (2800-2400 BC) with the use of coloured materials, precious and semiprecious stones, alloys of gold and silver.
But in the old days the first artificial material appeared in addition to gold and natural stones. Pliny the Elder, a Roman scientist and historian of the ancient world, mentioned it in the 1st century as a stone that "burned in the sun and was clear and transparent like water". It was glass.
One of the earliest discovered shards was found in southern Mesopotamia. It is dated to the 21st century BC. Two centuries later Egyptian artisans also mastered the methods that became the backbone of glassmaking. A huge contribution to the history of beads was also made by Indian, Phoenician, and Chinese glass blowers.
The manufacture of glass beads is one of the oldest art forms - it’s about 30 thousand years old. They were first produced in Egypt; masters used crushed quartz as a raw material and covered them with a vitreous mass, and they were highly-prized. These beads were not transparent, as they served to imitate precious stones. Brown-red, green, and blue glass successfully replaced Carnelian, Turquoise, and Lapis Lazuli.
In the East glass necklaces and bracelets were, so to speak, "expressive". It was believed that a jewellery piece of blue colour protected from the evil eye, green brought joy and merriment, and yellow meant love.
Round Egyptian beads were often decorated with white ornaments. These later served as a model to follow for the masters of Alexandria in the era of the Roman Empire, and after that for the Venetian glassworkers.
Egyptian adornments in the form of eyes were very appreciated and highly priced. They were worn as amulets against the evil. This tradition is still alive in the Middle East and Central Asia.
During the Hellenistic era the centres of glassmaking became Alexandria and Rome. The Romans invented the technique of blowing glass. It also became transparent. Around 200 BC it began to be pressed in open shapes - glassworks turned from luxurious jewels into household items.
The secrets of Roman glassmaking were adopted by the Byzantine Empire. Only in the 18th century numerous attempts by the masters of Thuringia to unravel the secrets of the Venetians led to the invention of light blown glass beads - the predecessors of the modern Christmas decorations.
And then in Bohemia, talented Bohemian masters learned to cut glass and cover it with enamel. Thus came the period of popularity of the special Czech glassworks.
Glass-making was akin to magic - the process seemed so complex and mysterious. Firstly the masters took soda, quartz sand, and ash, mixed them all in the right proportions, and sintered the mix in the furnace to make the raw material. Then the necessary natural pigment was added and the mixture was sent into the furnace again in a large crucible. The temperature of glass melting reached 900-1000°C.
When the glass in the crucible got to the right consistency, it was pulled into bracelets, made into beads, or expensive and luxurious dishes and jewellery. The master could not only give the products various shapes, make them simple round, trihedral, tetrahedral, or twisted, but also decorate them with thin rope threads of different colour.
Murano - an island that keeps secrets
Among the many islands of the sunny piquant Italy there is one large island, popularly called "the second Venice". It is there, in this picturesque place of the Venetian lagoon, where for several centuries an incredibly beautiful verto de Murano or Murano glass is made.
It all began behind the dull monastery walls where Benedictine monks decided to make jugs to store liqueur. Giving shelter to runaway glassmakers from Byzantine, as they soon learned, was a smart move. The monks’ knowledge and education combined with the glassblowers’ experience led to the unique products becoming incredibly popular.
Initially, the glass workshops were located in Venice. However, the business associated with fire threatened the wooden architectural ensemble of the city and in the 13th century the production was moved to the island of Murano.
Venetian authorities, who quickly estimated the benefit of the glass business, did not want to share profits and hence imposed a monopoly on it. Of course, this did not stop the Europeans who hunted for the secret technology. The Europeans enticed the Murano masters abroad, promising them mountains of gold.
In the 16th century the glory of the Venetian glass flew far beyond the continent. Incredibly thin and transparent material was valued on par with precious stones. Masters glassblowers were allowed to marry the richest and most noble beauties, but under no circumstances were they allowed to leave the island. The penalty for disclosure of the secrets was death. And even those masters who managed to leave Murano perished during the journey under obscure circumstances.
The end to the monopoly was put by the book The Art of Glass, which described the way it was made in detail. After that Europeans were able to produce Venetian pieces themselves. But soon everyone realised that, like in any other art, to create masterpieces you need something more than the simple knowledge of technology.
Genuine Murano glass jewellery
Despite the rapidly developing technologies Murano glass is still produced exclusively by hand. Glassblowers use an iron pipe which is partially covered with wood (so that it can be held without burning oneself). For hundreds of years it has not been changed or improved: one end of the tube is a mouthpiece and the other a special thickening for picking up glass.
Both tea sets and jewellery are produced in exactly the same way. Turned to red-hot in a special furnace, the end of the blowing tube is placed into molten glass, which, when it sticks to the metal, forms a hot ball.
After that the master blows into the tube through the mouthpiece, giving the material the desired shape. Thanks to this every creation of Murano masters is as unique as the human breath itself.
Perhaps it is the fidelity to the old methods of production that gives Murano products such warmth. No wonder that the Venetians tried to keep them secret for so many years.
Nowadays the pieces produced on the island of Murano are as highly valued as before. The skilful creations of Italian glassblowers are equated with precious materials, and in appearance resemble ornamental stones: jasper, agate, carnelian, and others.
That's why Venetian glass is often used as an insert in earrings, rings, pendants, bracelets, and charms. A variety of shades and textures opens up space for imagination, allowing artists to create not just products, but accessories that convey moods.
Contemporary Glass Jewellery. Magic or art?
It turns out that the filigree technique is familiar not only to jewellers. It was exactly what once glorified the Venetian glassmakers. To get the effect of filigree in transparent glass, thin multicoloured strings are integrated into it, forming a pattern. Blowing products from such material is an incredibly difficult process because the threads must exactly repeat a certain ornamental pattern that the master came up with.
Another unique technique is millefiori, or "thousands of flowers". For a long time, this method of manufacturing glass was kept in the strictest secrecy. To make it, thin twigs of layered multicoloured glass in the form of a flower, a square, a star, or other figures were used. These twigs were cut into the finest slices and "superimposed" onto a glass base.
In the 17th century specialists from the Miotti family developed new technology for glass production. On the glossy surface of glass twinkled glitter, similar to the countless stars in the sky. This kind of Venetian glass was named aventurine glass. It is obtained by adding copper crumble to molten glass, which forms a sparkling scattering on the surface.
Not less popular are Murano's products created in the technique of Craquelure. A red-hot blown object is placed by the glassmaker in ice-cold water, causing the top layer of glass to form small cracks, creating a special pattern.
The use of the pulegoso technique allows creating products with the effect of "boiling". Bubbles of air in the glass arise because an incandescent object is placed in cold water, and then returned to the furnace.
A multilayered coloured glass is called agate. It’s called so due to its resemblance with the ornamental stone popular for its beauty.
How to buy glass jewellery online?
It is quite natural that the prices of glass jewellery are significantly different, depending on the manufacturer. Brand jewellery from high-quality materials, such as Murano glass, for example, exceeds the cost several times of the available beads of Indian or Chinese manufacturers. The use of manual labour, the complexity of manufacturing technology, the brand - all this affects the final price of the product.
When choosing glass jewellery, you must carefully inspect the product for chips and cracks, the reliability of the fastener and its adequacy to the size of the beads, the strength of the thread, and the fastening. It is worthwhile to assess the comfort of the accessory, since massive or long beads can be quite heavy.
If there are doubts that the beads are real glass and not a plastic imitation, then you can judge by the weight: glass beads are noticeably heavier than lightweight plastic. You can also try to tap the bead with a fingernail or gently on the teeth. Glass produces a sufficiently sonorous "glass" sound.
Care for glass jewellery
Glass jewellery can be damaged in a fall, so it must be protected from possible impacts. Manufacturers recommend avoiding chemical use on the beads, high humidity and temperatures.
Clean it by washing in water with a soapy solution or by rubbing with a woollen cloth.