The very first Czech glass beads were produced in a small town of Zasada in the kingdom of Bohemia. Bohemia would later be called Czechoslovakia, or the Czech Republic, for short. Zasada was located in a region called the Jablonec nad Nisou. This region would later be known as the core or heart of glassmaking in the country. It was here the Czech glassmaker began their humble expansions so that they could begin selling and exporting their glass beads to other nations. From its humble beginnings, Czech glass beads history now scintillates with brilliance as massive manufacturing facilities are now dedicated to the mass production of Czech faceted glass beads and Czech glass beads vintage.
Czech Glass Beads and Types
There are more than 255,000 types of Czech glass beads being exported annually by the country, but there are of course the main forms of Czech beads that are universally recognized.
The Arcos par Puca is a type of crescent bead that has three holes in it. It’s a good choice for multi-threaded constructions, whether for jewelry making or sewing. Arcos par Puca beads come in a variety of colors, from pastel blues to shining metallic black beads.
Briolette beads are distinct and classy, with their multifaceted construction and finish that come in so many radiant colors. One is immediately reminded of precious and semiprecious stones like onyx, jade, and even emeralds. Briolette beads are usually round but multifaceted, which makes them look like little brilliant pebbles. Off the bat, they look perfect and ready to be added to most jewelry constructions.
Cali beads are three-hold Czech beads that have an oval form factor. They sort of resemble small fish and would be adequate as spacers in bracelets and necklaces. Like other Czech glass beads, they look great in fashionable clothes, as well as jewelry. Use Cali beads when you have a multi-threaded construction that requires minimalistic spacing beads. As these come in many multifaceted colors, they would add character and texture to jewelry. You’re sure to make a lot of classic pieces with beadwork made of Cali glass beads.
Candy beads are shiny, round, and cute. These glass beads are made to look like they have a matte, acrylic finish and they also come in several bright, pastel colors, too. But despite the bright finishes, they are perfect for jewelry of all kinds, not just the ones for more youthful wearers.
There are also candy beads that have a bright and vibrant finish, which makes them look like real traditional candy morsels. Think you have what it takes to be creative with candy beads? Try them!
Carrier beads are Czech beads that look like little pastilles. These beads come in so many varieties from matte finishes to textured and even surreal-looking colors. They can be used to create full string constructions or you can also use them as spacer beads to emphasize gemstones and other beads.
Czech glass rounds look like pastel pearls, which again, makes them perfect for brighter and more vibrant jewelry. You can also use glass rounds that are finished with earth tones with textures that involve several tones or layers of color. There are also glass rounds that look exactly like wood beads, so if you are gunning for a more earthy type of construction with different colors but don’t want to use different kinds of beads because the variations break the aesthetic, you should look into Czech glass rounds.
Brick beads are exactly as they sound: they’re rectangular, slim, and have two thread holes. Due to their thickness, they’re adequate for spacing and they give a nice sense of fullness to jewelry without making the jewelry look bulky. They also come in so many colors, so there’s no limit to what you can achieve with them.
Beam beads are oval and longer than brick beads, and they’re also used for spacing necklaces and bracelets. If you want your jewelry to have a svelte and slim finish, beam beads are the way to go.
Czech Glass Beads History
Before the modern facilities of today, bead making was largely a cottage industry back in the day.
Selling beads was the main source of income in the villages that dotted the mountainous regions of Bohemia. Due to the importance of the craft to the survival of the bead maker’s families, entire houses were largely dedicated to making beads. Polishing and cutting machines were housed first, and other furniture for use of the family were relegated to other rooms or even the attic.
After blowing the glass and cutting and polishing the beads, the beads were then strung up by members of the family. Everyone contributed to the craft of bead making. This is why Czech beads are not just beautiful, they are naturally steeped in local Czech history and is a natural source of pride of the Bohemians back in the day.
It was in the 1830s that an innovative fellow by the name of Josef Riedel settled in the area where glassmaking was a bustling cottage industry. It was in the 19th century that the art of glassmaking began to modernize, thanks to the efforts of Riedel, who first established a modern glassmaking facility that created nineteen different bead sizes, including the tiny seed beads that are a favorite in crafts and fashion. But he didn’t stop there.
Riedel built up his inventory of colors until he had a stunning 200 colors available for both the local and international markets. His persistence and energy in advancing the art of bead making earned him the moniker “The Glass King of the Jizera Mountains.”
The automation in the production of the beads paved the way for mechanically cut beads that competed with glasswork from other regions like Italy. Technology that came from facilities like those built by Riedel did not reduce the quality of the mass-produced beads, which made the beads even more competitive and popular with buyers. To date, Zasada exports a stunning almost four million kilos yearly and a mind-boggling 255,000 bead varieties.