Beadwork (embroidery) in Europe goes back centuries. This site deals with the European medieval period, roughly 1000 to 1700AD, exclusively.
Notes about the sources on this site: I tend to feature examples of seed-sized glass and pearl beads sewn onto cloth, parchment, or worked with wire, as larger pearls decorating cloth are much more commonly found.
I prefer to provide as many extant examples as possible. I often reject paintings for inclusion if they feature plain, simple pearl work or the like. Unless they are portraits, of course, as portraits (of real people, not saints) always are always better.