How expensive is Murano Glass? People ask this question often because they want to understand whether authentic hand-made artistic Murano Glass can be affordable. In fact, authentic Murano Glass prices range from very affordable small jewelry that is under $20 to extremely expensive art glass pieces which run into thousands of dollars.
So what do Murano Glass prices depend on? There are a variety of factors that define the price.
- First and most important factor is the difficulty of making the piece. This depends primarily on the Murano Glass technique used by the master. Some techniques involve multi-step processes, which require exceptional skill, precision, and take a long time to complete.
- The second factor is the cost and difficulty of obtaining source materials. Certain techniques have high costs, such as gold-leaf layering, which requires the use of 24 karat gold.
- The third factor is the item type and color. Larger and more complex Murano Glass pieces, like large sculptures or chandeliers, often cost more than smaller ones, and Murano Glass vases and figurines in red and black color are usually more expensive than blue or transparent ones.
The main factor that determines the price of a Murano Glass piece is the technique used to make it. For example, Millefiori (translated from Italian as “a thousand flowers”) is a technique of creating special Murano glass canes with a pattern inside, then cutting them up into small cross-sections (“murrine”), then assembling the murrine into a certain pattern, and fusing them together in the furnace multiple times to achieve the famous mosaic glass, or Millefiori, look.
This is a painstaking process which requires exceptional skill, dexterity, and many hours of work even for a small piece. Hence, Millefiori Murano Glass typically commands higher prices and it is easy to distinguish fake Millefiori glass from the real Murano-made, as fakes are often sloppily made in China, and lack exquisiteness and brightness of colors that distinguish authentic Murano Glass. You can expect to pay $20 – $40 U.S. dollars for Millefiori earrings and pendants, depending on the size and pattern, and over $100 U.S. dollars for Millefiori vases and sculptures.
Another expensive Murano Glass technique is Sommerso, which is crafted by carefully dipping glass of one color into glass of another color, and potentially creating more than 2 layers this way. This is a very difficult process which, when executed correctly, means that the layers of differently colored glass never mix, creating distinct bands of colors within one art glass piece. Sommerso vases, bowls, and sculptures command relatively high prices, from around $150 for a relatively small 2-layer piece to over a thousand dollars for large multi-layer Sommerso art glass creations.
One more example of expensive glassware is gold-leaf and enamel-decorated Murano Glass made in now rare technique called Tre Fuochi, which means “three flames” or “triple-firing” in Italian. This technique hails from the opulence of the eighteenth century Venice, when many wealthy Venetians and foreigners sought out exclusive tableware to show off their elite status at dinners and balls. Tre Fuochi technique involves lots of expensive 24 karat gold, and painstaking manual work of painting gold leaf and enamels on the glassware.
The process is split into three stages. First, intricate gold leaf decoration is applied by hand to the colored glasses, goblets, carafes, bowls, or vases. Then the glassware goes into the special furnace which is heated up to the point when the gold permanently bonds with the glass. After that in another manual decorating session, various enamels are handcrafted on the glass, usually in the form of flowers, leaves, or abstract elaborate decorative elements, and then the glassware goes into the furnace again to make the enamel fuse with the gold and the glass. In the end, the final decorative touches are added by hand and the glass goes into the furnace for the third and last time to ensure complete fusion. Then the glass undergoes gradual cooling to ensure it won’t shatter from stress.
Needless to say, this extremely complex process is costly, and requires a lot of time, skill in both glass-blowing and hand-decorating, and special furnace setup. Therefore, very few artisans still create these pieces and you can expect to pay high prices of over a hundred dollars per piece for tre fuochi wine glasses, carafes, and other tableware.
It is hard to save on Murano Glass, since much of the cost is based on the amount of work and skill required to produce this exquisite glassware in Italy. However, in order to pay the best price, it helps to understand what determines the price and shop around to see who offers the best price. However, the price should still look reasonable and not so low that it’s likely the piece is fake. Often the best prices are found in small stores on Murano island (not the large and commercialized “factory” outlets, which are often not affiliated with any factory at all).
The next best option is on the internet, where you can find large importers and distributors who can keep the prices low due to the high volumes and lack of retail space. Our company, GlassOfVenice.com has been in business for over 10 years, and is the largest online distributor of authentic Murano Glass in the world. Unlike our competitors, we have exclusive contracts with many small family Murano Glass workshops, which allows us to offer the highest quality exclusive artistic Murano Glass at very reasonable prices.