How To Identify Murano Glass – 5 Tips To Determine Authenticity

How to identify Murano Glass - 5 tips from Glass Of Venice to help you shop for Murano Glass

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.

Glass Of Venice Murano Glass Millefiori vase with 24K gold leaf
Glass Of Venice Murano Glass Millefiori vase with 24K gold leaf

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.

Murano Glass artisan making a vase in a glass factory in Murano, Italy
Murano Glass artisan making a vase in a glass factory in Murano, Italy

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.

Authentic Murano Glass bowl millefiori and blue with Promovetro label and the master's signature
Authentic Murano Glass bowl millefiori and blue with Promovetro label and the master’s signature

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.

The interior and selection of a Murano Glass store in Venice, Italy
The inside of a Murano Glass store in Venice, Italy

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.

Seller in Venice, Italy holding an authentic Murano Glass birds sculpture
Seller in Venice, Italy holding an authentic Murano Glass birds sculpture

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.

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13 thoughts on “How To Identify Murano Glass – 5 Tips To Determine Authenticity

  1. Donna

    I visited the island of Murano in 1980 and purchased many blown glass souvenirs, including an intricate Murano glass necklace and many tiny figurines. They were probably just tourist items, but I still have them packed away in perfect condition (I hope). Would they be worth anything today? (I’m in New England.)

    Reply
  2. Sandy

    I have a little misshapen vase or bowl or candle holder, oviously I’m not sure. It is clear very light bluish green stlyle with brown and green raised swirl. The pontil mark is very rough on the bottom. Do all Murano glass pieces have a signature? This one does not’

    Reply
  3. Linda McAllister

    Are you aware of any history related to Master’s coming to the USA to work with Companies in the early 1900’s to produce chandeliers, specifically Millefiori Lamps and chandeliers?

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Murano Glass clowns just like any other Murano piece may or may not have stamps, signatures, or labels on them. There is no rule about marking Murano Glass in a certain way and each master or company decides how they want to mark their work if at all.

      Reply
  4. Mary Farrugia Martin

    We may be in possession of an Alfredo Barbini fish centerpiece and trying to determine if it is authentic.

    It has been in the family at least 50 years, can you advise please.

    Thank you

    Reply
  5. Laura

    Greetings!
    I recently purchased an Aquarium-in-a- bag piece featuring two goldfish and a blue ribbon. My purchase was made at an antique shop from a booth run by an elderly woman. This was part of her personal collection before being sold.

    The piece is signed Schiavon on the bottom. It also has a label that reads F.lli Schiavon Murano as well as Palazzo del Vetro. I’ve had trouble finding a comparable piece with the same signature etc.
    Would you have any information by chance? Is this perhaps a vintage aquarium-in-a-bag?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. GlassOfVenice Post author

      Schiavon is a very famous glass artisan dynasty on Murano island and Schiavon factory is still in existence today. If you search for Schiavon Murano Glass aquarium online you will see some of his aquariums and can check out signatures.

      Reply

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