Millefiori beads have been treasured by the African people from far before the colonial period. Millefiori, literally meaning ‘a thousand flowers’, beads are also known as Mosaic trade beads from ancient time throughout the world. Millefiori trade beads are one of some African trade beads that were used as currency to trade and exchange for goods in Africa during the colonial period. As the meaning implies millefiori beads come in different color variations and beautiful designs. Because of the fact that Millefiori trade beads are handcrafted you’ll find the nuance difference between them. There are no two beads alike and each bead is a work of art. They are characterized by their long shape which is longer than other African beads.
Originally, the millefiori beads were made dominantly in Venice in the late 1800’s and imported to Africa for trading purpose. They were produced by creating flowers or stripes from glass canes, cut and molded onto a core of solid material and finally made into beads.
In the late 1960s, once more Millefiori beads became popular as jewelry in the United States. They were given the name ‘love beads’ by the hippies and made into necklaces as peace a symbol. A single piece of bead can make an exquisite centerpiece in pendants, bracelets, earrings, finger rings and many others jewelries. People also buy them as collector items because of their colorful history. They are rising in value by 10% each year. Because of their exquisite beauty they are precious as gifts and decorative items.
Some other popular beads such as Kiffa beads of Mauritania were evolved based on the great demand of Millefiori beads. Though they were evolved to mimic the appearance of Millefiori beads, the fascinating attraction to Millefiori beads is still deep rooted. Today, old millefiori trade beads are very expensive, especially if they were made in Venice in the 1800s or used in the 1960s and 1970s.