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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