Here is another term which seems often misunderstood and seems to means different things in different places and to different people. 

First it may be easier to tell you what it is not.  In North America, ‘Satin Glass’ seems to mean glass which has had a treatment to remove the shine from the surface of the glass so it is translucent rather than transparent.  If applied in only a small part of a pane of glass, then apparently it would then be called ‘etched glass’.  This would be the type of window glass used in restrooms or bathrooms to provide privacy.

The satin glass which I am going to try to explain today is classic Bohemian glass, used in making beaded necklaces, brooches and ear rings or locally called ‘bijouterie’.  The glass appears to have a non-transparent look but that is not due to any surface treatment.  Rather, it is due to millions of tiny air bubbles being trapped within the glass itself which I have always rather thought of as ‘whipped glass’.
Whilst trawling my reference books for information, I find that one source states categorically that “It came in white, pink, green and yellow”.  Since I own several pieces of other colours (including blue), I know that this list is not all encompassing but it is a start.  Published authors DONT always get things right!

It’s probably better to get other misconception out of the way too, that is that white satin glass has ground mother of pearl or mercury added to it.  It is true that the white version of Bohemian satin glass does look a little like mother of pearl.  It is also sometimes called ‘Moonstone’ coming from the German for that word, being ‘mondscheinglas’.  But it most certainly does not have mercury added nor ground mother of pearl.

Another source says that “Generally the glassworker uses special satin glass canes which include an opaque half and a transparent half”.  Somewhere else someone states that the canes (one opaque and one transparent) were twisted together to produce unique combinations of swirly opaque coloured glass.  This does sound probable for press moulded items, such as pendants of pressed glass which may have a design stamped into the glass.

But this explanation does not seem to hold true for individual beads.  Unless the lampworker takes a gather (or blob) of molten glass from the molten end of one of these twisted canes and then proceeds to wind individual beads from that cane.

By using the word ‘generally’ the person quoted above seems to be saying that this is not the method in every case.  Which would lend credence to the individually wound beads which are so obvious in the images I show here.

This same author credits the artisans of Gablonz with the creation of this specific type of glass, which they called ‘seidenglass’ (Satin Glass) in the 1800’s.  My feeling is that this glass was developed by the Gablonzers long before this time, but as yet, I cannot substantiate it.  Given the bijouterie makers in that region went back to the 15th century, it seems unlikely to me that they had not discovered or even stumbled upon this form of glass druing a far earlier time.

According to the same source, it was in the late 1800’s when satin glass was financially the most successful for the economy of Gablonz.  Perhaps illuminating the earlier generalisation, the author goes on to state that almost all of the large composition makers went on to develop their own type of satin glass.  The varieties were apparently so different that patents were taken out as protection.

Some of the businesses who held patents for satin glass include the Brosche company (1910), as well as the Konrad Dressler and Eduart Redlhammer companies who each successfully produced their own version of satin glass.

One thing is for certain.  Bohemian satin glass beads, brooches and vintage costume jewellery are very misunderstood by many people.  Fortunately that does not detract from the sheer beauty and tactile look of this exquisite form of vintage jewellery.