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As I work on new pieces for spring and summer, I’m enjoying falling in love with my collection of trade beads all over again. Trade beads are decorative glass beads used between the 16th and 20th centuries as currency to exchange for goods, primarily in Africa. Made to ease the passage of European explorers and traders, the beads were created throughout Europe, though the Venetians were perhaps most well known. This season, I’m highlighting Venetian “millefiori” beads (pictured) in some of my designs. Translated as “thousand flowers,” each beautiful bead is a unique work of art – and a wonderful piece of ornamental history. I love thinking about the journey each bead has made over the centuries – and wonder how many people enjoyed its beauty before it came to me?

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