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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