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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How To Visit Murano Glass Factory

How to visit Murano Glass factory in Venice
We often get questions about the possibility of visiting a factory or a workshop in Murano and witnessing the creation of famous Murano Glass. Unfortunately the artisans we work with and many other high quality Murano glass artists do not open the doors of their workshops to tourists and here is why:

  • The artisans consider their business a serious affair and heavily guard their glass-making secrets, so they would like to avoid any unnecessary distractions or intrusions
  • The main expertise of the artisans is in production of Murano glass and not in entertaining tourists or explaining the process to them.
  • The workshops arent’s staffed to handle the inflow of tourists
  • No factories are usually interested in tourist visits just for the sake of showing them the glass-making process. Those factories that agree to hold these demonstrations do so for a chance to sell their wares, often in a pushy way and for above-average price.

If you would still like to see how Murano Glass is made, there is a place in Venice itself called Vecchia Murano that offers free demonstrations (of course with a chance to buy something from their massive store). Vecchia Murano is located near Piazza San Marco right behind the Bridge of Sighs. Also if you take a vaporetto to Murano and just take a walk around the island (which is very pretty, less touristy and much quieter than Venice), you will quickly find furnaces and workshops that are open to tourists and offer demonstrations. If you decide to visit a Murano Glass factory here are our insider tips:

  • Please note that all Murano glass factories are closed for the entire month of August by Murano tradition and primarily due to unbearable heat inside the non-air-conditioned factories aggravated by high outside temperatures. If you must visit during August you may end up in a very touristy place that is a “fake factory” i.e. set up specifically to offer quick demos to unsuspecting tourists and mainly to get them into a showroom and entice them to shop. For this reason if you visit Venice in August, we suggest to forgo a factory visit.
  • It is best to visit furnaces on weekday mornings. Most of them are closed during the lunch hour (which tends to be longer than in the U.S. and often runs until 2-3pm) and on weekends.
  • These tours and demonstrations should always be free of charge. Do not agree to deal with anyone who offers to get you into the factory for a fee.
  • In Venice, you may encounter sales representatives from touristy factory showrooms that will offer you a free boat trip to Murano. If you accept, be prepared for a lot of sales pressure when you get there and make sure you know how to get back. In fact it is always better to come to Murano by relatively inexpensive and efficient public transportation, and not have to depend on pushy salespeople.
  • The exit from a demo is almost always through a richly stocked showroom where you may encounter variable amounts of sales pressure. Look at the prices first, and if things seem too expensive – don’t buy. The factories often give you an impression that they sell cheaper “direct from factory”, but this is not always true. make sure to comparison shop around the island before making a purchase – you could save hundreds of dollars this way.
  • If you do decide to buy something, we strongly encourage you to take it with you. There is nothing worse than getting home and trying in vain to track down your shipment. If you would like it shipped, make sure that:
    1. Your purchase will be very well packed (ask the salespeople to show you how they pack glassware for shipping).
    2. Make sure that you know how and when the shipment will reach you. Find out the name of the carrier and insist on getting a tracking number.
    3. Always take down the contact information of the factory and the name and e-mail of the salesperson in case any problems arise later on.

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Where to buy Murano Glass in the U.S.A.?

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 pieces, they instantly get many compliments 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 where they can buy more Murano glassware. Fortunately, there is no need to make a trip to Venice to purchase beautiful authentic reasonably-priced Murano Glass.

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. But be careful with internet shopping because many Chinese factories these days are churning out glassware they label as “Murano” or “Murano style” when in reality it has nothing to do with Venice’s world-famous craft. In addition, many legitimate Murano Glass online stores are physically located in Italy, which may become problematic for the U.S.A.-based customers both in terms of shipping, returns/exchanges and customer service. We have unfortunately heard many sad stories from our customers who were previously ordering from Italian websites and never received their items, or were unable to work with their customer service staff due to the problems with their work hours and the language barrier.
GlassOfVenice Website - we sell only authentic Murano Glass
When choosing a website to buy your Murano Glass treasure you should look carefully at the following:

  • The website should have a well-written “About Us” section where you can find out their credentials and read about the company history. Make sure the company has been in business for at least a few years, and is writing things on their About Us page that resonate with you. Ideally you would understand from this page why they are in this business and why and how they are able to offer authentic products.

  • The website should have contact information including a toll-free phone number and physical address in the United States. Always check on Google Maps or a similar website to see that this address is not someone’s residence but a legitimate business office.

  • The website should spell out easy-to-follow return policies with return for any reason possible within 30-days or more, as well as free replacement of damaged items. This shows that the seller is confident in their product quality and appeal, and is willing to take care of any issues that may arise during shipping.

  • The website should have a large selection of Murano Glass pieces, including jewelry, vases, figurines and sculptures, drinkware and tableware, as well as lighting, and a variety of price ranges all the way to exclusive art glass. This lets you know that the company is serious about its Murano Glass product selection and offers some expensive art glass pieces that are much harder to fake.

  • The website should have clear and multiple high-quality photos and videos of the products. This helps you understand several things:
    1) whether they have Murano Glass pieces in stock (a requirement to make high quality photos).
    2) whether they are serious about Murano Glass and consider it worthy of the spend required to purchase expensive photo and video equipment, or to hire professional photographers.
    3) you’ll know what the product looks like from different angles and see whether it has any markings or labels to better judge about its authenticity.

  • Check out the website’s shipping timelines and existence of expedited shipping options. If the company can ship within 24 hours and has expedited shipping options, such as overnight, that lets you know that they are warehousing the products and not drop-shipping them using a third party. You should avoid dealing with the drop-shippers because it is impossible to verify where they get their pieces from, and they are much more likely to sell fake Murano glass

  • The website which deals in authentic Murano Glass is always interested in educating its customers and helping them avoid fakes, and so it should offer more than just products for sale. Check to see if the website you are looking at has a comprehensive educational section or a blog where the company shares the insights about all things related to Murano Glass, such as masters, techniques, history, and photos and videos.

  • Finally, always check Alibaba website, which has a lot of fake Chinese Murano Glass listings prior to shopping to see what Murano Glass fakes look like (and you’ll be very surprised by how cheap it is!). If you check enough listings of fakes you will be able to spot them much easier when shopping for Murano Glass online.
  • Alibaba sells a lot of fake Murano glass - educate yourself before buying

    We at GlassOfVenice consider it our mission to educate current and prospective customers about Murano Glass and help them buy and enjoy authentic Murano Glass pieces, whether they choose to shop with us at GlassOfVenice.com or not. We work directly with the glass artisans on Murano island bypassing all middlemen, so that we can be 100% confident in the authenticity and quality of our products by following their path all the way from the furnace to our warehouse.

    We are also proud to say that we know all the artisans we deal with personally, and visit them often to foster true collaboration and provide them with feedback directly from our customers to ensure that the product they create works well for our discerning clientele in the United States and beyond. Please feel free to e-mail us at support@glassofvenice.com if you have any questions about Murano Glass shopping on- and off-line or need help with any of our products.

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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 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

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, 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 from it and look elsewhere.

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