How can I be sure that I am buying a genuine work of Venetian masters, a piece of authentic Murano Glass? This question is by far the most common one among those we receive. And this does not come as a surprise to us, since so many counterfeits have flooded the market in recent years, especially with the advent of the World Wide Web. Most Murano Glass lovers appreciate this glass not only for its beauty but also for its historic, artistic, and sentimental value. So understandably they want to be sure they are buying the real thing, handmade by the masters and artists in Venice, rather than some cheap imitation. Here are our top 5 expert tips to ensure you are buying authentic Murano Glass, whether in a store or online.
1. Look at the item itself (or its photos if buying online)
- Does the item appear to be hand-made with a slightly uneven surface or texture, or, perhaps, tiny bubbles inside the glass? If two of the same item stand next to each other on a store shelf are they identical or can you spot small differences? If it’s the latter, you are on the right track, as there can never be two completely identical authentic Murano Glass pieces.
- Are the photos clear and professional, high resolution and high definition, showing the surface and texture of the glass? Can the photos be enlarged so you can clearly see the patterns
- Are the colors bright and rich? Does the item seem to glow from within?
- Does the description say “Murano Glass” (and not “Murano-style” or similar)?
- Does it talk about real 24K gold or genuine silver being used during production of the glass?
You want to be able to answer YES to ALL of these questions when you are looking for a genuine article. Always look for the evidence of the hand-crafted nature of the items, good photos, rich colors and specific descriptions.
Finally, look at the price and research where it fits in comparison to prices other sellers charge for similar objects (make sure the style and size of the objects you compare is similar and technique is the same). Be on alert for prices that are way too low, this may be a sign of a counterfeit.
2. Look for labels, markings or signatures
Are there any markings, stickers, or engraved signatures on the piece? It helps if there is a label identifying a certain Murano company or a signature of the master glass-maker on the item, and some Murano Glass companies do stamp or sign their work in some way.
However, if your piece does not have any markings or labels, it does not automatically mean that it is not genuine. Keep in mind that there is no legal requirement in Italy or beyond that Murano Glass come with some sort of a standard stamp, sticker or any other identifying sign. Different Murano Glass masters choose to mark their glass in different ways, including various stamps, stickers, glass masters’ signatures, while many make no markings at all.
While there exists the official Murano Glass Consortium, the membership in it is not compulsory and is fee-based, and at present only a relatively small group of Murano’s glass-making companies are the members of that consortium, mainly for practical and financial reasons.
3. Look at what else comes with the item
- Does the seller offer a certificate of authenticity stating the origin and the production process of the item?
- Does the certificate display any text in Italian language?
- Are there any brochures supplied by the seller explaining Murano Glass and its historical and artistic significance?
- Is special packaging offered with the item? Does the packaging look attractive and is it of good quality?
If the answer is always YES you are on the right track.
4. Look at the seller
- Is the seller reputable? Does it share information about itself? Does it specialize only in Murano Glass or Venetian products and nothing else? Does the seller demonstrate good knowledge of Murano Glass industry, techniques, production process, and history? Does it possess Italian background, education, or extensive travel experience to Italy? Does it offer a generous Return/Exchange policy?
- If it’s a website, is it professional-looking? Is there a real business address and phone number listed on the site? Look out for the addresses in Asia or in developing countries as this often is a BIG counterfeit warning sign.
- Does the seller have a very large assortment of various Murano Glass products? Always try to find the sellers that specialize in and know Murano Glass and beware of the large and faceless web portals selling lots of items unrelated to each other.
- Does the online seller have lots of things in stock? Can they pick out a piece with specific patterns/colors at your request? If yes, they probably have their own warehouse. If not – they are drop-shippers, which means they have an agreement with other companies to ship to their customers, while never actually seeing the products they sell. Steer clear of such drop-shippers.
- Are any client testimonials or product reviews readily available on the site? If yes, that often indicates that the seller is confident in the quality of their pieces, even if they get purchased by Murano Glass collectors who often shop at such websites and can easily spot the fakes.
Positive answers to these key questions indicate that the seller is likely to sell genuine Murano glass. On the flip-side, if the seller also sells lots of other cheap-looking jewelry and accessories, is known as a large seller of cheap household names, can’t tell you much about Murano or Murano glass, will not consider custom requests, does not seem to have any links to Italy, or has a shady website with little business or product info, you are probably looking at counterfeits.
5. Look at the assortment of Murano glass products the seller offers
- Does the seller offer a wide range of Murano glass products that include jewelry, home decor items and high-end Murano glass items such as vases, sculptures, chandeliers, or art glass?
- Does it offer any Millefiori items? If so, is there a large variety of them and are they of good quality, displaying intricate patterns with many mosaic pieces in them, and rich colors? Millefiori is one of the most difficult and labor-intensive Murano Glass-making techniques and is harder to fake than some other ones.
- Does the seller offer to work with you on procuring any custom items or items not in their inventory, such as chandeliers? If yes, that means they have ways of dealing directly with the glass masters.
Generally, if you can answer YES to these questions you can be reasonably sure you are dealing with the seller who offers authentic Murano Glass.
Despite the large number of companies that sell fake glassware labeled as Murano, there are many more that proudly carry the real thing. Authentic Murano Glass is worth purchasing, owning and passing to the next generations, or gifting to your loved ones. The beautiful Murano Glass pieces make great wedding or anniversary gifts and often become family keepsakes and sentimental objects.
Please do not be put off by all the publicity about the rarity of genuine Murano Glass. When you are armed with the right information, it is very much possible to find a reputable Murano Glass company and purchase from them confidently. GlassOfVenice.com is one such place, where passion for Venice, its cultural and historic heritage, and its beautiful Murano Glass is at the heart of everything we do.
Should you decide to buy from us, or anyone else, just go by this guide to have confidence in your choice. Above all, trust your instinct and common sense when buying Murano Glass. If something tells you “beware”, try to find out as much information as possible from the seller, and if you are still not satisfied, just steer clear of it and look elsewhere.