Tag Archives: Murano glass prices

Why Is Murano Glass So Expensive?

Murano Glass bowl is being made by an artisan in Murano Italy
Murano Glass bowl is being made by an artisan in Murano, Italy

Why is Murano Glass so expensive? Authentic Murano Glass is art glass that is made by hand in Murano, Italy using only basic tools, special furnaces, and the techniques that come from ancient times. Italian artists and artisans need decades of hands-on experience in order to craft the high-quality art glass that is valued by collectors and art aficionados. Add to this the high prices of raw materials which often include precious metals and you will realize why Murano Glass prices are much higher than factory-made glassware you can find anywhere.

So what determines the prices of Murano Glass pieces and why does Murano Glass seem expensive compared to factory-made knock-offs? We break it down for you here:

  1. 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, Filigrana, and each master typically specializes in only one or two techniques. These techniques are complicated and many pieces take hours and several artisans to make, which leads to a high price tag.
  2. 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.
  3. The expenses involved in operating furnaces. While small jewelry is typically crafted using only a small flame, larger pieces such as tumblers, bowls, vases, sculptures, and chandeliers require the use of special furnaces. Murano Glass factories making those items are organized around one or more furnaces (“fornace” in Italian), which take a long time to bring into proper operating condition, cannot be extinguished overnight, and use high volumes of expensive gas. In addition, in the pandemic times, many restrictions hit the operation of factories on Murano very hard, as blowing glass in a confined space is an inherently risky activity during a pandemic.
  4. The high rents for store owners in Venice, Italy. Murano Glass sellers in Venice need to pay high rents for the premium real estate and storefronts that 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 the merchandise run high and restoration after floods takes time and effort. 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, even abroad.
  5. The customs charges and shipping fees for sellers abroad. Murano Glass is only produced in Venice, Italy, therefore, all sellers outside of Italy need to import it in order to sell. 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. Shipping and insuring fragile and heavy glassware across continents is a costly undertaking, and the price of Murano Glass pieces reflects this.
Artisans making Murano Glass vase in Murano Italy
Murano Glass artisans creating a vase at a glass-making factory in Murano, Italy

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 and a set of unique cufflinks, a lovely handmade Murano Glass pendant, a pair of shimmering earrings or a gold leaf-lined statement ring may be all you need to add a stylish accent of 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, or find the perfect gift for an elegant woman or man who loves Italy and appreciates the artisan traditions of Murano and beyond.

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Is Murano Glass Valuable?

Murano Glass Is Valuable - Salviati, Toso, Moretti. Murano Glass Museum, Venice
Murano Glass By Salviati, Toso, Moretti, 19th Century. Murano Glass Museum, Venice.

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? Here are the main aspects that help determine the value of a Murano Glass piece:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 valued Murano Glass technique, involving 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.
  3. The age and condition. Murano Glass is an art, and 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 which 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 valuable mid-century and other vintage Murano masterpieces at competitive prices.
Murano Glass Art By Carlo Scarpa, 20th Century Vintage Glass.

Murano Glass is certainly valuable, first and foremost because it is an art form. 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 it is possible to own a valuable piece of Murano Glass without breaking the bank. Check out the Vintage Glass Collection curated by Glass Of Venice where we offer valuable pieces by Formia, Loredano Rossin, Seguso Vetri d’Arte, Licio Zanetti, Salviati, and others, which are the true art heirlooms to keep in your family and pass to future generations.


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How Expensive Is Murano Glass?

Murano Glass Making - How Expensive Is Murano Glass

How expensive is Murano Glass? 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. The great news is that you do not need to break the bank to own a piece of genuine Murano Glass.

So why are certain Murano Glass pieces more expensive than others? We explain what Murano Glass prices depend on. Here are the key factors that define the price:

  1. 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, making the piece very expensive.
  2. The cost and difficulty of obtaining source materials. Gold and silver leaf layering have high costs, thanks to the use of 24 karat gold and .925 sterling silver.
  3. The item type and color. This matters because Murano Glass colors are created using minerals fused into the hot glass. Murano Glass chandeliers, vases, and sculptures in red and black colors are usually more expensive than blue or transparent ones. Larger and more complex Murano Glass pieces, like large sculptures or chandeliers, cost more than smaller ones.

The main factor that determines the price of a Murano Glass piece is workmanship. 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.

Millefiori Glass Making - How Expensive is Murano Glass

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 counterfeits are usually sloppily made in China, and lack exquisiteness and brightness of colors that distinguish authentic Murano Glass. You can expect to pay $20 – $50 U.S. dollars for authentic Millefiori earrings and pendants, depending on the size and pattern, and over $100 U.S. dollars for Millefiori vases and sculptures.

Sommerso Murano Glass Making - How Expensive is Murano Glass

Another expensive Murano Glass technique is Sommerso, which is crafted by carefully dipping glass of one color into molten 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.

Murano Glass Tre Fuochi Wine Glasses

One more example of expensive glassware is gold-leaf and enamel-decorated Murano Glass made in a 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 where 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 price 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 prices. However, after accounting for the size, workmanship, and color, 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.

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