Murano glass is known for its high quality and imaginative design. The island of Murano, in Venice, has been home to glassmakers since the Middle Ages. It was glassmakers from Murano who carried the art to the rest of Europe. Today's pieces are highly prized by collectors. Yet, the market is flooded with counterfeit pieces claiming to be Murano. Most are made in China. A knowledge of Murano labels can help buyers to identify authentic examples of Murano glass.
A Place Not a Company
One of the problems with identifying genuine Murano glass involves the way in which it is made. Murano is a place, not a company. Numerous manufacturers produce the famed glass. Yet, all have one thing in common. They are all located on the island of Murano. Labels on modern day Murano glass will usually indicate Murano, Venice, or Italy, as the place of manufacture. A description that the glass is either "handmade" or "handcrafted" is also commonly included on the label.
Other labels include the name of Murano manufacturers. Some well-known names include Cenedese, Formenton Creations, Vetro Artistico Venziano and Riekes Crisa. Labels vary in shape, size, and wording. Many are of foil, with large ornate letters. A number resemble the labels on wine bottles. Company labels can be round, oval, triangular, or polygonal in shape. Some even resemble crests.
Some pieces that were made after 1980 contain a label that bears the trademark of the Venice Glass Consortium. The Venice Glass Consortium, or Vetri Murano, is an organisation of glassmakers on the island of Murano. A creation of the Venice Craftsmen's Association, it helps to control the authenticity and quality of Murano pieces. The trademark label bears the words "vetri murano" in old style lower case Italianate letters. The initials "vm" are repeated to the right of the name, and underneath the name "murano," the same name appears again, but inverted.
Unique Works of Art
Another way to spot a genuine Murano piece is that there is no other like it. Foreign manufacturers may imitate the style of Murano labels, including indications that the piece is a work of Murano glass. Two identical pieces with a Murano label are a sure sign that the piece is counterfeit. Murano glass is the production of individual craftsmen. There are no assembly lines at the Murano factories. Each piece is an individual creation.
Examine the fine print on Murano labels. If a piece claims to be Murano, and says "Made in China," it is counterfeit. Look closely at label text. Spelling and grammatical errors will often indicate Chinese or Southeast Asian manufacture. Pieces made in the style of Murano, or by an artist trained at Murano, are not Murano pieces unless made on the island.