Aventurine glass has many alternate names. It may be called monkstone, Stellaria, or goldstone, and it is visually quite stunning. It is sometimes confused with several minerals like feldspar or quartz, which may have tiny flecks of glittering material that add shine and sparkle. These are called aventurine, though this is not aventurine glass.
The birth and invention of this glass is credited to an Italian family of glassmakers by the name of Miotti. They created this special and iridescent glass in the mid 17th century and it soon become prized and envied. Their process for creating the glass remained a closely guarded secret for many years, and at first they held exclusive rights to produce it.
Fortunately, the secret of making the glass was finally “outed.” Essentially, the glass was combined with copper or copper salts. When the glass melted and cooled, these mineral deposits would clump together to created a gold-flecked and shiny appearance on the glass. As is common with most glass, the glass itself had no color, but the additional minerals added could create varying colors like green and blue, although the most common color is a rich, ruddy brown.
You can also find variants of aventurine glass that appear to have more silvery flecks of shine than gold ones. The types of minerals that are added to the glass can achieve this effect. However it was made in those early days, the glass became highly prized. It was used to make jewelry, vases, and mosaics. Prices, given the limited pieces manufactured, were quite high at first.
Prices lowered when a widow of one of the Miotti glassmakers divulged the secrets of making the glass in the early 19th century. This led to greater production of the glass by a number of glassmakers, and some improvements in overall technique. Prices gradually dropped, and it’s now quite easy to find aventurine glass for beading at a much lower cost. Some insist that the glass should come from Italy in order to be considered “authentic.”
Just as the tiny flecks of mineral seem to sparkle in magical fashion as you gaze at aventurine glass, there are a number of myths, folklore, mysteries and secrets surrounding how the Miotti family created this glassmaking process, that almost suggests magic or alchemy. The name itself may mean discovering something by chance or through luck or adventure. But there were rumors that the glassmaking technique was passed to the family by a secret and unknown order of monks. There’s thus something rather special about the glass that glints like gold, even though we now know how it comes by its glitter and shine.