Category Archives: Murano Glass Shopping

Murano Glass is an ancient craft that was practiced by Murano island’s artisans since 1291 and has over the years turned into an art form. People appreciate Murano Glass not only for its beauty but also for its historic and artistic value, and its tight connection to Venice. GlassOfVenice will help: read our expert advice on selecting the best authentic Murano Glass, whether on Murano, in Venice, or online.

The Best Gifts To Bring Home From Venice

Venice is renowned for its beauty, history, and art. No wonder that many visitors want to bring home a memory of this magical city, along with original souvenirs for family and friends. Gifts are a wonderful way to show loved ones that you care, even when you are far away from home, and they’re also an excellent way to express the beauty of a place to someone who has never visited it.

Fortunately, Venice offers many gift choices to travelers looking for unique and beautiful gifts to take home. Our recommendations center around traditional artisan goods that have been crafted in Venice for centuries using original techniques and that embody the true spirit and beauty of Venice.

Venetian Carnival Masks

Venetian Carnival Masks

Carnivals are a longstanding tradition in many cities and towns throughout Italy, but Venetian Carnival is the most famous and revered of them all. For ten days each February or early March, Venice transforms into a heaven of revelry and partying, the extraordinary ‘Carnevale’. During this time millions of tourists descend upon the city, clamouring for a chance to experience lavish decadence of another era. The masks are seen everywhere – on the streets, in cafes, at parades, in gondolas, at the balls, and range from basic to extremely elaborate. 

Venetian masks are often colorful, with intricate detail and rich decoration of beads, plumes, fabrics, or even small paintings. Authentic Venetian masks are made by hand from papier-mâché, designed in baroque style and often hail from Italian Commedia Del Arte, impersonating its various characters, such as Colombina, Arlecchino or Pulcinella.

When buying a mask in Venice, find the type of design that you like, then seek out a real Venetian mask atelier, where oftentimes the artisans will work in the back while the finished masks will be sold out front. These places are usually not found in big tourist spots, but mostly tucked away on white canals, back lanes, or small piazzas. Never fall for low prices and places with rows of similar cheap-looking masks. Those are most likely fakes made in China. The real Venetian masks are relatively heavy, perfectly crafted, and not cheap.

Where to Buy Venetian Masks?

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Quick Guide to Buying Authentic Murano Glass

Murano Glass is beautiful and unique with hundreds of years of artistic tradition behind it. Venetian masters learned from the ancient Roman artifacts and from Byzantine and Egyptian artisans to create masterpieces of blown glass using many different complicated and labor-intensive techniques, such as Millefiori, Sommerso, Bullicante, Filligrana, Lattimo, and others. Unfortunately as Murano Glass masters became famous beyond Venice so spread the fakes. Known as “A la façon de Venise” (or “in Venetian fashion”) glass pieces imitating Murano were made as early as the 16th century in Netherlands, England, France and later Bohemia and other parts of Europe. The very latest fakes are now coming from Asia, China in particular, and flooding the market to the extent that real authentic Murano pieces become harder and harder to find.

We at GlassOfVenice.com love Venice and support Venetian artisans, many of whom come from the long lineage of Murano glass maestros going back to the Middle Ages. Authentic Murano Glass still trumps all the fakes with its exquisite craftsmanship, gorgeous colors and amazing designs that Italian artisans are well known for. Here is our exclusive quick guide to how to avoid being cheated and always select genuine Murano Glass handcrafted in Venice. Murano stands for more than fine craftsmanship – it’s art, tradition, Venetian memories, and rich cultural and artistic heritage of La Serenissima. Get a real piece of Murano Glass – you’ll be glad you did!

Murano Glass Guide - How to Buy Authentic Murano Glass

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I returned from Venice and realized I should have bought more Murano glass there. What can I do now?

While visiting Venice, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the quantity and variety of Murano glass offered for sale all over the city. However, once the tourists return home and start wearing or displaying their beautiful Murano glass purchases, they instantly get many complements and questions about these items, prompting them to think that they should have purchased more Murano glass items both for themselves and as gifts. Then they realize that Murano glass is not widely available around them, and wonder “is it too late to buy more?” Fortunately, the answer is “no, it is not too late”.

While outside of Venice there are not many stores specializing in genuine Murano glass, and counterfeits are abound, one can still find a good selection of genuine Murano glass products even after they leave Italy by going on line. Sites like GlassOfVenice.com feature a full line of authentic Murano glass jewelry, accessories, and home décor imported directly from Venice and offered at very reasonable prices.

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How do I know if a Murano Glass item is genuine?

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 our top 5 expert tips to ensure you are buying authentic Murano Glass, be in a store or online.

Tips to Identify Authentic Murano Glass

1. Look at the item itself (or its photos if buying online)

Authentic Murano Millefiori Bowl

Does the item appear to be hand-made with 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

Authentic Murano Glass Label

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

Murano Glass Certificate of Authenticity

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

Murano Glass Store

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 those. 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

Murano Glass Selection

Does the seller offer a wide range of Murano glass products that includes jewelry, home decor items and high-end Murano glass items such as vases, 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? 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 greatr wedding or anniversary gifts and often become family keepsakes and sentimental objects. It is very 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 from it and look elsewhere.

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