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.
Does all Murano Glass have a mark? Not all, but many original Murano items have signatures, labels, or stamps. Among the items that do not have any marks many are still authentic. Seems confusing? Do not despair – we will teach you how to identify authentic Murano Glass, whether with marks or not.
Murano Glass Authenticity: Why It’s Important
Murano Glass is an art form that has its origins in ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, and Roman glassmaking methods. For centuries, people cherished Murano Glass for its vibrant colors, intricate designs, and advanced techniques. The local master artisans in Venice have made significant breakthroughs and introduced many innovations in the craftsmanship and artistic design of Murano Glass. This was possible because the island of Murano has been a hub of Venetian glass production since the 13th century. Working closely together, its artisans have honed their methods through generations, creating unique pieces which broke the mold of the craft.
Murano Glass masters always were the envy of all the other glass masters around the world. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, as they say, and today lots of Murano Glass counterfeits flood the market. These counterfeits endanger the craft of making original Murano Glass. Moreover, their sellers fool people into buying undesirable low-quality products.
To help you buy real Murano Glass we are sharing our top identification tips. Once you understand what to look for, you will be able to distinguish original Murano Glass from the imitations flooding the market. By understanding the key characteristics and markers of real Murano glass, you can make informed decisions. It will help you to know that you are paying for the skill of Murano-based masters and for the artistry honed through generations of Italian glass artisans.
Is Murano Glass worth collecting? We say yes, without a doubt. Italian Murano Glass is special. It has unique and exquisite designs, which have attracted the attention of collectors and admirers for centuries. Its beauty and the intricate craftsmanship that goes into each piece set it apart from other artistic glassware. As such, Murano Glass is an art that is absolutely worth collecting.
To help you start collecting Murano glassware, we’ll tell you how to determine the value of a Murano Glass item, highlight the most various famous Murano Glass artists, and explain the modern trends in the art of Murano Glass. We will point you to galleries, museums, and collections featuring Murano Glass, and suggest the best places to purchase collector-quality Murano Glass art.
Collecting Is Understanding The Value
Determining the value of a Murano Glass item can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, such as the piece’s age, rarity, and condition. To determine the value of a Murano Glass item, it’s important to first understand whether it is authentic Italian Murano Glass or a counterfeit produced elsewhere. Once you know that the piece is original and genuine, you need to understand if it is vintage or modern, Vintage pieces command much higher values.
Then examine the piece closely for any flaws or damage. Additionally, the signature of the artist can greatly impact the value of the piece. Some of the most sought-after signatures in Murano Glass include Archimede Seguso, Carlo Scarpa, and Lino Tagliapietra.
Murano glass from Italy has a long history and high value. Also known as Venetian glass, it is one of the world’s most beautiful and sought-after forms of glass art. Murano glass has a rich history that dates back to the 13th century. Amazingly, it continues to be produced in Murano, Italy, to this day. However, it was in the 16th and 17th centuries that Murano glass experienced a significant period of development and evolution. In this article, we will take a closer look at the special value of Murano glass and its history, with a specific focus on its development during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Murano glass has been around for more than 700 years. It has a rich history that is steeped in tradition and innovation. The glass-making industry in Murano began in the 13th century, and it quickly became a center for glass production in Europe. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the glass industry in Murano experienced a significant period of growth and innovation. During this time, Murano glassmakers developed new techniques and styles that are still used today.
How Murano Glass Evolved
One of the most significant developments in Murano glass during the 16th and 17th centuries was the invention of Cristallo glass. Cristallo glass was a clear, colorless glass that was highly sought after by the wealthy and the aristocracy. The invention of Cristallo glass was a major breakthrough for Murano glassmakers. From that point, it quickly became the most important product produced in Murano. This translucent colorless glassware was highly valued for its purity, transparency, and brilliance. It was used to make a variety of decorative objects, such as chandeliers, mirrors, vases, and even window panes.
Another important development in Murano glass during the 16th and 17th centuries was the introduction of enamel decoration. Enamel decoration involved applying a layer of enamel to the surface of the glass and then firing it in a kiln to create a durable and colorful decoration. Enamel decoration was a popular technique in the Middle East. Like other foreign innovations, it was brought to Murano by Venetian traders. Murano glassmakers quickly adopted this technique and began producing colorful, enameled glassware. Glass with enamel decoration became popular among their rich customers and is still highly valued by collectors.
Is Murano Glass Worth the Money? Murano Glass is an art form and as such it does increase in value over time. Collectors purchase Murano Glass, museums exhibit it, and lots of wealthy people use Murano Art Glass for home decor. The high price for Murano Glass often makes sense as each piece is a designer object that is handmade and unique.
Here are the 4 reasons to pay premium prices for Murano Glass.
1. Murano Glass is a collectible item.
Murano Glass is an art form that has been in existence for at least 800 years. The master artisans of Murano started from humble beginnings. However, over the following hundreds of years, they continuously evolved their blown glass creativity, elevating it to art by the renaissance.
Many famous masters had their own workshops on Murano island. They came up with fancy forms, deep colors, and creative designs. Initially only the rich and famous could afford expensive and elegant Murano objects, which had the superior quality to any glass created elsewhere. Their clarity was mind-blowing and unheard of. Murano Glass chandeliers were translucent and reflected so much light. Venetian mirrors had not just unique ornamental designs but, more importantly, highly polished glass surfaces, allowing for clear reflections.
However, in the twentieth century, the level of wealth of the general population grew. More and more middle-class people started traveling to Venice and got familiar with Murano and its glass art. Regular people were purchasing Murano Glass mirrors in Venice for their homes. or shopping for Murano Glass vases to display on the shelves.
Collectors of Murano Glass art come from all walks of life. However, they have in common an understanding of the special beauty of this art medium and the different styles and techniques used to create Murano Glass over the centuries.
Multiple catalogs of Murano Glass and the works of specific glass artists exist. Many have been published in the twentieth century. The catalogs and special books allow collectors to learn more and gauge the artistic value and the rarity of a particular piece. Multiple auction houses, including Sotheby’s and Christie’s, feature Murano Glass. Especially popular are sculptures, figurines, chandeliers, and vases. Occasionally, auction houses will feature Murano jewelry along with precious jewelry.
Is Venetian Glass the same as Murano Glass? Yes, and both mean handmade glassware made in Murano, an island in Venice, Italy. Many of GlassOfVenice customers ask whether Murano Glass and Venetian Glass are the same things. Why is there a confusion about the proper name? The explanation requires a brief excursion into the history of Murano Glass.
Why is Murano Glass so expensive? Firstly, Murano Glass is expensive because it is an art. Blown art glass is made by hand in Murano, Italy using only basic tools, special furnaces, and techniques that come from ancient times.
Italian artists and artisans need decades of hands-on experience in order to craft the high-quality glassware valued by collectors and art aficionados. Add to this the high prices of raw materials, which often include 24K gold and .925 silver, and you will realize why Murano Glass prices are much higher than factory-made glassware from China.
So what determines the prices of Murano Glass pieces? Why does Murano Glass seem expensive compared to factory-made knock-offs? Here are the 5 reasons why Murano Glass is expensive:
The special skills the artisans need to create Murano Glass and the small number of qualified Murano Glass artisans. There are many Murano Glass techniques that master artisans may use, such as Millefiori, Avventurina, Sommerso, and Filigrana. Each master typically specializes in only one or two techniques. These are complicated techniques and many pieces take hours and several artisans to make, which leads to a high price tag.
The source materials get more expensive each year. Some colors require the incorporation of metals such as cobalt, silver, or gold. In many cases, Murano pieces have special shimmer, which is achieved by layering glass with 24-karat gold or .925 sterling silver. Needless to say, the precious and semi-precious metals command high prices that keep on increasing over time.
The high expense of operating furnaces. While artisans typically craft Murano Glass jewelry using only a small flame, they need to use special furnaces for larger pieces such as tumblers, bowls, vases, sculptures, and chandeliers. Murano Glass factories making those items have one or more furnaces (“fornace” in Italian). These furnaces take a long time to bring into proper operating condition, they cannot be extinguished overnight, and use high volumes of expensive gas. In addition, during the pandemic times, many restrictions hit the operation of factories in Murano very hard. Blowing glass in a confined space is an inherently risky activity during a pandemic.
The high rents for store owners in Venice, Italy. Murano Glass sellers in Venice need to pay high rents for the premium real estate. Their storefronts line the busiest alleyways and squares (or rather “campo’s” or the “piazza” in the case of Piazza San Marco) in Venice. In addition, because Venice’s floods are frequent and sometimes severe, the insurance costs for both space and merchandise run high. Restoration after floods takes time and effort, decreasing revenues. Therefore, as strange as it is, often you will pay more for the same item in a Venetian store than you would to an online seller.
The customs charges and shipping fees for sellers abroad. They make Murano Glass only in Venice, Italy. Therefore, all sellers outside of Italy need to import it. Importing comes with high costs made up of customs fees for each item dictated by the country of the importer and the shipping fees that can make up as much as 20-30% of the price. It is expensive to ship and insure fragile and heavy glassware across countries and continents. The price of Murano Glass reflects this.
After you take these factors into account, you will better understand why Murano Glass commands high prices. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot find an authentic piece at a reasonable price. Small Murano jewelry is typically much cheaper than larger creations. Yet the look you can create with Murano Glass jewelry will be elegant and unique. A set of bright cufflinks, a lovely handmade Murano Glass pendant, a pair of shimmering earrings, or a gold leaf-lined statement ring are all you need to channel Venetian charm and Italian craftsmanship without breaking the bank.
At GlassOfVenice.com we have the world’s largest collection of authentic Murano Glass jewelry and accessories so that you can find a piece that brings out your personal uniqueness. Here you will also find the perfect gift for an elegant woman or man who loves Italy and appreciates the artisan traditions of Murano and beyond.
Is Murano Glass valuable? You may wonder – is that Murano piece my grandmother left me special? Yes, many authentic Murano Glass pieces have appraised value of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Depending on who made them and when, which technique was used, and how rare a piece is, it may be a highly valuable special work of art, or it may be considered a valuable antique.
So why is Murano Glass valuable? And where does its value come from? In this article we will go over the main characteristics that define the price of a Murano Glass piece.
Murano Glass Value Is Defined By Several Factors.
The master or the glassworks that created the piece. Many masters of Murano Glass attained worldwide fame for the special artistic value of their pieces. This list includes Paolo Venini, Alfredo Barbini, Archimede and Livio Seguso, Carlo Scarpa, Vittorio Zecchin, Lino Tagliapetra, Carlo Moretti, Fulvio Bianconi and many other prominent Venetian glass artists. Their signed works, as well as the works marked with the stamps of the most prestigious Murano Glass companies, such as Barovier and Toso, Fratelli Toso, Venini, Moretti, Formia, Gambaro e Poggi, Simone Cenedese, Alessandro Mandruzzato, command high values and top prices on the antique market.
The craftsmanship and the technique. Certain techniques of Murano glass-making are very complex and require incredible skill and precision along with artistic talent. Filigrana, Reticello, and Zanfirico are some of the rarest and most valued Murano Glass techniques. They involve heating, stretching, and twisting glass canes into elaborate lace-like designs. Millefiori (or Murrina in Italian) is another one, where tiny pieces of glass canes with designs inside are fused together into quilt-like patterns.
The age and condition. Murano Glass is first and foremost, an art. Thus, like all artworks, Murano Glass pieces become more valuable with age. Every period of Murano Glassmaking has a unique appeal. The most valuable pieces are the ones that survived from the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century Venice. Many of these are in museums, while others are carefully kept in private collections. Artworks from the 20th century are easier to come across, with mid-century works making up the majority of this century’s Murano Art Glass heritage. Specialized antique online marketplaces, auction houses, and serious Murano Glass sellers such as GlassOfVenice.com offer authentic mid-century Murano Glass. Here you can find many vintage Murano masterpieces at competitive prices.
Valuable Murano Glass For Your Home.
Murano Glass is certainly valuable, due to its very long history, and constant artistic innovation based upon ancient methods of craftsmanship. It is also a recognized art form displayed in museums worldwide. Specifically, you can find many Murano Glass items in the most famous museums of the world, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Getty Villa to The British Museum, The Louvre, Murano Glass Museum in Murano, and other prominent collections.
But you can admire a Murano vase, sculpture, or mirror without a trip to a famous museum, Displaying a valuable piece of Murano Glass in your home is possible without breaking the bank. Check out the Vintage Glass Collection where Glass Of Venice offers valuable pieces by Formia, Loredano Rossin, Seguso Vetri d’Arte, Licio Zanetti, Salviati, and others. These unique artworks are true heirlooms to keep in your family and pass on to future generations.
How to identify Murano Glass? We will explain how to make sure you buy an authentic piece of Murano glassware. First of all, you have to know that Murano Glass is only made on Murano Island in Venice, Italy. Ask for a certificate of origin, labels, or signatures to confirm this. Look for unique designs, rich colors, uneven shapes, and imperfect polish.
Here are the top five tips for the buyer to identify Murano Glass.
1. Inspect Colors and Design.
Authentic Murano Glass has rich colors and often real gold or silver specks inside. The color shades vary from item to item. When Murano artisans make glassware, they use various minerals to give color to the glass. As the glass mass gets heated, the minerals melt and create colors such as blue from cobalt, red from gold, green from iron, or pink from manganese.
Often the colors get layered on top of each other in a special technique called Sommerso. In addition, the masters often use thin sheets of gold or silver that get added to the glass mass and create a layer of gold or silver sparkles inside the glass. In a special demonstration of mastery, the artisan may create glassware that looks like a bright quilt of mosaic-like pieces, the ancient Roman technique known as Millefiori or Murrina.
2. Look for Imperfections.
An authentic Murano Glass object has an imperfect shape, other small imperfections, or size and shape variations.
When masters create Murano Glass by hand, they do not use exact measurements or machines to create perfect shapes or perfect polish. Therefore, most Murano Glass pieces may come out slightly asymmetrical.
Many blown glass pieces will have bottoms with somewhat rough pontil marks where the glass piece was taken off the stick. Sometimes there are also bubbles of air trapped inside the glass. Two items of the same model may vary in terms of shape, size, color, or pattern.
This is the result of a very manual ancient process, where artisans use only basic tools. The masters take pride in following the techniques and traditions of their fathers and grandfathers. They work in small factories and workshops which have no production machinery or conveyor belts.
3. Are There Certificates, Labels, or Signatures?
Authentic Murano Glass often (but not always) has labels with the name of the workshop and the signature of the master. Look for these and for certificates of authenticity or origin.
If you see phrases like “Vetro Eseguito Secondo La Tecnica Dei Maestri Di Murano” beware: the item is a fake. The words mean “glass created following the technique of Murano masters”. As such, the item is not the glassware made by Murano masters but merely an imitation.
Watch out for words like “crystal” because Murano Glass is not crystal. If you see the Promovetro (Murano Glass Consortium) sign on the piece with a QR code, like the one on the photo of the blue Millefiori bowl below, the piece is authentic. If you see the name of the factory on the label, research where they are located to make sure they are selling authentic Murano Glass.
4. Assess The Quality of The Store.
Authentic Murano Glass is typically sold in stores or on websites, which feature a large selection of high-end art glass items.
Check the product selection in a store where you plan to make a purchase, whether physical or online. If the store sells large gorgeous vases, sculptures, and recognizable typically Venetian pieces such as gondolas, clowns, Goldonian ladies and gentlemen, Millefiori glassware, as well as elaborate Venetian chandeliers, most likely this store carries genuine Murano Glass.
5. Check The Knowledge and Reputation of the Seller.
Authentic Murano Glass sellers usually know the world of Murano Glass very well and are able to answer all your questions fully and honestly.
If you are unsure whether to purchase a piece, start a conversation with the seller or contact them by e-mail, chat, or phone. Ask them about the piece, the technique, and the glass-making process, and question them about the Murano Glass industry.
If their level of Murano Glass knowledge is low and they can’t explain much about the piece, it’s likely that they don’t sell genuine Murano glassware. On the contrary, if the store is open about its procurement process and answers all your questions in detail, they are most likely selling real Murano Glass.
About The Author
GlassOfVenice.com is an official original Murano Glass importer and seller and has been in business since 2008. Glass Of Venice works directly with over 40 different Murano Glass artisans, workshops, and factories in Murano, Italt. The management team visits the artisans often to maintain close relationships, curate collections, and review new creations.
Our customers from the UK frequently ask us where to buy Murano Glass in the UK. We can recommend several options for finding and buying authentic Murano Glass for UK residents, including Glass Of Venice website and Amazon.
In looking for the best options to buy Murano Glass in the UK you need to weigh the following considerations:
Is It Authentic?
Make sure the glassware you are purchasing is authentic. This means it was made by hand in one of the established workshops on Murano island using the traditional methods and techniques. Please read our blog article to know how to make sure the piece you want to purchase is genuine Murano Glass. Unfortunately, many fake Murano pieces sold today are made in China. This is especially important if you are shopping at marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay, where lots of fakes are peddled as authentic Murano Glass.
What Is The Price?
The prices of genuine Murano Glass pieces vary widely. You may pay just a few British pounds for a pair of small Murano earrings or thousands of pounds for art glass pieces such as vases and sculptures. Lighting fixtures such as chandeliers may cost you several thousand pounds depending on the size. We advise you to comparison shop online and see what the prices are for comparable Murano Glass pieces. In addition, fakes are typically surprisingly cheap. Hence if you see a piece that is too cheap to be true, it’s probably fake. Read our article to understand how much Murano Glass should cost and how to pay the right price for the piece that you like.
Is There A Large Assortment?
There are a number of Murano Glass online stores. Most of them specialize in certain types of pieces, such as only vases and sculptures, only chandeliers and other lighting fixtures, or only jewellery. Find and compare several websites that carry the items that you want. Your best bet is to seek out a site that carries the full range of Murano Glass. Such sites will have the most extensive connections with the artisans and often the most experience shipping the items and the best prices.
How Much Is Shipping?
Because you are in the United Kingdom, you need to shop at an online store that ships to the UK. More over, look for reasonable shipping fees and coverage for any shipping-related damages. Once you add all the items to your shopping cart, start going through the checkout to see how much the shipping fees will be, and compare them to other sellers.
In addition, make sure that the seller will replace the items free of charge should they arrive damaged. Glass is fragile and it is very possible that your item may not be adequately packaged or may break from rough handling by the carrier. Also make sure you understand return policies of the seller and buy from those where return is easy and not overly expensive from the UK. At GlassOfVenice.com we ship to the UK every day and we always replace any items that arrive damaged promptly and free of charge.
Where is the seller based?
While the majority of online sellers of Murano Glass are based in Italy, there are a few including Glass Of Venice that are in the U.S. Some are in the U.K. The quality of customer service and communication, and of the buying and shipping processes will often be better when you shop from the US or UK online stores.
While the Italian stores are closest to the artisans, they will often have difficult replacement and return conditions and long lead times due to not having items in stock. At GlassOfVenice.com we keep all items in stock and ship everything within 24 business hours from purchase.
If you buy from Amazon or eBay ascertain first what seller you are actually dealing with and where they are based. Do not rely on the marketplace itself to take care of all the issues that may arise with your purchase.
If you are in the UK you have many options for buying Murano Glass and having it quickly delivered to your doorstep. Research the sellers, compare the prices, and find the pieces you like online. Good luck with your Murano Glass shopping!
Where To See Murano Glass Blowing? We’ll tell you how to find the best family-owned real Murano Glass factory where you can see the real glass-making, not a tourist show. If you get trapped into the tourist pitch, you will see a very basic short demonstration by someone who barely knows the craft, and will be quickly ushered into the retail area and encouraged to shop and overspend. To avoid this experience, we recommend a place where you can see the authentic glass-blowing process on Murano without any sales pitch.
How to avoid a tourist trap While there are many factories and workshops on Murano, there are also many that pretend to be factories, when in reality, they are merely showrooms. In order to get the best glass-making demonstration experience, a tourist must be careful and not get pulled into showrooms and retail stores pretending to be factories. Most places that offer demonstrations on Murano are just such retail locations. They often claim to be the only place where you can see a real Murano Glass demonstration and the items they sell are overpriced and often not authentic Murano Glass.
We also strongly recommend that you steer clear of hotel-sponsored trips to see Murano glass-making. And do not engage with people strategically standing near Vaporetto stops with signs on seeing Murano glass-making.
Where to see the real Murano Glass demonstration The place that we know well and recommend to our customers and all Murano visitors is located at Calle San Cipriano 48, 30141 Murano and is called Vetreria Murano Arte or VMA. For a small 3 euro fee, you can see real masters work in the real family-owned Murano Glass factory and create wonders of Murano Glass. The added benefit is that you don’t need to make reservations in advance or connect with an organization that will facilitate the glass-blowing demonstration. Just show up at your convenience and see the demo with no sales pressure.
How to get to Murano Island and see the glass making demonstration To see this glass blowing demo all you need to do is take Vaporetto to Murano from Fondamente Nove stop in Venice and get off at Murano Colonna stop. Then ignore all the people promoting demonstrations and holding up signs, get off the Vaporetto, turn left and walk along the embankment. In about 5-7 minutes you will reach Vetreria Murano Arte. The demonstration is open weekdays between the hours of 9am and 4pm. Children under 11 years all can see the demonstration free of charge.
Murano Glass Blowing is a mesmerizing process which takes its roots from Roman glass-blowing and has evolved over the centuries in the Venetian Republic and in modern-day Italy into a prominent art form. There are hundreds of workshops and small factories on Murano island, most family enterprises, where one or more maestro’s work with hot glass, assisted by a few helpers.
A typical factory has several furnaces where the artisans repeatedly heat up the glass mass to make it malleable. Once heated up, the master takes the glass blob on a metal rod to the special bench, where they work on the hot glass blob, while constantly turning the rod to make sure the shape stays and the glass doesn’t fall onto one side. The masters use very basic tools and instruments to cut and shape the glass, and it’s their precision, experience, talent, and fantasy that make their creations unique art glass pieces renown throughout the world.
To become a Murano Glass master, one has to start out working in a furnace as a child and work alongside an experienced maestro to learn all the tricks and secrets of this unique and ancient trade. The most talented artisans then develop their own manner and artistic style, becoming famous maestros in their own right. This old-fashioned way of learning is still practiced in Murano, and all the masters we work with at Glass of Venice have learned their craft in this way.
If this sounds interesting, the next time you are on Murano make sure to visit the real glass-making demonstration without the sales pitch, and then walk around Murano island at your leisure. Peek into stores and galleries and view the beautiful Murano Glass jewelry, vases, sculptures and figurines to see if anything attracts your attention.
If you find a piece that you’d like to purchase, make sure it’s authentic. If you are taking it along with you, ensure that it will be packed well for its voyage home. Otherwise, if you would like it shipped to your home, remember to take down the information about the store, the salesperson, and agree on all the specifics of shipping to avoid any surprises with regard to the shipping fees and timing.