Tag Archives: Murano glass prices

Why Is Murano Glass So Expensive?

Why is Murano Glas so expensive? See how Murano Glass bowl is handmade by an artisan in Murano Italy.
Murano Glass bowl is being made by an artisan in Murano, Italy. Photo credit: GlassOfVenice.com

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:

  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, 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.
  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 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.
  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. 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.
  5. 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.
Why is Murano Glass so expensive? Artisans make Murano Glass vase by hand in Murano Italy
Murano Glass artisans creating a vase at a glass-making factory in Murano, Italy. Photo credit: GlassOfVenice.com

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.

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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? 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.

  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 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.
  3. 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.
Murano Glass Art By Carlo Scarpa, 20th Century Vintage Glass.

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.


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How Expensive Is Murano Glass? Why does it cost so much?

Murano Glass Making - How Expensive Is Murano Glass
Crafting a Murano Glass chandelier in a glass factory in Murano, Italy.

How expensive is Murano Glass? Authentic Murano Glass prices range from very affordable small jewelry that is under $30 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.

Why are some Murano Glass items more expensive than others?

Let’s explore 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, and on the master too. 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.

Millefiori Glass

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. It is easy to distinguish fake Millefiori glass from real Murano-made.

Millefiori glass counterfeits are usually sloppily made in China, and lack the exquisiteness and brightness of colors that distinguish authentic Murano Glass. You can expect to pay $20 – $80 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 Glass

Sommerso Murano Glass Making - How Expensive is Murano Glass

Another expensive Murano Glass technique is Sommerso. It 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. This creates distinct bands of colors within one art glass piece. Sommerso vases, bowls, and sculptures command relatively high prices, from around $300 for a relatively small 2-layer piece to over a thousand dollars for large multi-layer Sommerso art glass creations.

Tre Fuochi 24 karat enameled Murano Glassware

Murano Glass Tre Fuochi Wine Glasses

One more example of expensive glassware is gold-leaf and enamel-decorated Murano Glass. This is a design created using 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. At that time many wealthy Venetians and foreigners sought out exclusive tableware to show off their elite status at dinners and balls. Tre Fuochi glass requires 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. It gets heated up to the point when the gold permanently bonds with the glass.

After that, it’s time for another manual decorating session. This is when various enamels are handcrafted on the glass, usually in the form of flowers, leaves, or abstract elaborate decorative elements. Finally, 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. The glassware then 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. It requires a lot of time, skill in both glass-blowing and hand-decorating and special furnace setup. Therefore, very few Murano-based artisans still create these pieces. You can expect to pay high prices of over $200 per piece for tre fuochi wine glasses, carafes, and other tableware.

How to pay less for Murano Glass

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. It is also important to shop around to see who offers the best prices for similar pieces. However, after accounting for the size, workmanship, and color, the price should still look reasonable. If it’s too low then it’s likely the piece is fake. Often the best prices are found in small stores on Murano island. Avoid the large and commercialized “factory” outlets, which are often not affiliated with any factory at all.

The next best option is on the internet. There 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 since 2008. We are 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. This allows us to offer the highest quality exclusive artistic Murano Glass at very reasonable prices.

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