Friday, September 29, 2023

Murano Glass Jewelry - Create Your Italian Look

Murano Glass Jewelry handmade on Murano Island in Venice, Italy

Are you someone who owns lots of jewelry and loves to change your look every day? Do you already have handcrafted jewelry in your collection and enjoy the unique look? Then you will most certainly want to add Murano Glass jewelry to your jewelry treasure chest. Read on to find out why Murano Glass jewelry is so special and how to get the most beautiful pieces at reasonable prices.

Glass making is an ancient craft. In fact,the first human-made glass discovered by archeologists was glass beads, which were likely an incidental byproduct of metalsmith craft 4 millenia ago. The origins of glassmaking lie in the area of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, from where it spread to the rest of the Middle East, then ancient Greece and eventually ancient Rome.

In ancient Rome glass craftsmanship became a significant industry. Glassware was used for storing and serving liquids, especially in rich households. As the masters became more skilled, they learned to produce intricate glass objects for purely decorative purposes.

When the Roman Empire crumbled many skills were lost as the artisans fled and dispersed on the barbarian-raided lands. However, a community of Roman refugees, some of them artisans, developed and thrived in the Venetian Lagoon. Historians believe the tricky tides and the shallow waters acted as a natural barrier to barbarian invasions. The first archeological evidence of glass-making in Venice comes from this period.

Venetian glass masters first created basic utilitarian vessels but soon they started creating ornamental objects and beads too. The entire Venetian glass industry was relocated to Murano Island by the order of the government in 1292. This year marks the official start of Murano Glass art. Murano artisans learned to make beads of all colors, shapes and designs over a small flame.

These beads were primarily used as currency to help Venetians trade with merchants in faraway lands. Murano Glass beads thus became precious and valuable. It’s no wonder that later on they were used for making jewelry for wealthy noble women in Venice and beyond. Many historians believe that Vermeer’s enigmatic painting “Girl With A Pearl Earring'' dating from 1655 in fact shows a Murano Glass earring, not a pearl one. Large pearls and gemstones were rare and very expensive at the time and many women wore Murano Glass earrings instead.

Fast tracking from Venice of the 17th century to today, women still love to wear unique and beautiful jewelry. Amazingly, Murano Glass jewelry is still crafted the same exact way as it was centuries ago, only the flame is now gas-powered. In fact, the ancient art of making glass beads still practiced today is even recognized and protected by UNESCO as part of intangible cultural heritage.

To make each bead, the artisan heats up a glass cane over the flame, adds gold or silver, creates layers and decorations, shapes it into the desired form and then gradually cools it down. The bead is now ready to be strung onto a necklace, bracelet, or an earring. Every bead is delicate, unique and beautiful, making every Murano Glass jewelry piece instantly stand out among mass-produced bland jewelry designs. In addition, glass does not fade over time, does not require any maintenance, and is easy to store. The color play changes in different lighting conditions, so you won’t tire of wearing the same jewelry multiple times.

Murano Glass Antique Millefiori Beads Crafted by Moretti Company In 1915

Moreover, Murano Glass can become more valuable over time. Antique Murano Glass necklaces and bracelets command prices of hundreds of dollars due to their artistic value and rarity. In many cases the glassworks which created these pieces had closed years ago, in other situations the techniques are very complex and difficult to reproduce. Such unique Italian glass jewelry sometimes appears at auctions or in antique galleries.

If you are after a contemporary piece, those are easier to find. There are multiple stores selling Murano Glass in Venice, Italy as well as on Murano Island itself, a short boat ride off the coast of Italy. Some stores sell generic designs, and some combine a one-person workshop and a store displaying designs created by a particular artist. In the latter case it is easy to determine authenticity, especially when you can see the artist working on her creations. In the former, determining the authenticity is difficult but paramount.

Unfortunately, many Chinese counterfeits to authentic Murano Glass exist on the market. Some store owners even in Venice are not local and do not care about the preservation of this ancient craft. Therefore, they stock their stores with cheap Chinese imitations and pass them for real Murano Glass.

You can spot such stores by cheap-looking poorly-arranged displays, aggressively advertised discounts, and overall lower quality of the objects they sell. Do not shop there no matter the price. Remember, if you pay these unscrupulous sellers you support the counterfeit industry and directly contribute to the decline of authentic Murano Glass.

Therefore, you need to look closely at the store before deciding to shop and determine if it sells original Murano Glass or not. Sometimes, genuine Murano Glass pieces will carry a special sticker of Vetro Artistico Murano. This is a consortium of some of the Island’s glass factories. The membership in this consortium is completely voluntary and requires payment of significant annual dues. For this reason, most of the hundreds of glass factories and workshops on Murano Island are NOT members of this consortium.

The interior of the shop and the knowledge level and attitude of the salesperson or owner will tell you a lot about authenticity. Shops that are well stocked with expensive pieces as well as cheaper ones, have invested a lot in interior design and layout, have Murano Glass chandeliers, and use nice packaging most likely sell original Murano Glass. Those that look cheaply designed, not well thought out, stocked with cheaper pieces laying around with no rhyme or reason often sell fakes.

Sellers who can’t answer questions, seem secretive or not knowledgeable, rude or unwilling to explain, may be selling fakes. On the contrary, those who will engage in a conversation, tell you about the Murano Glass industry and masters, give you some history or provide names of artisans who make their pieces likely sell authentic Murano Glass.

If you are not traveling to Venice the easiest way to purchase Murano Glass jewelry is online. Reputable online sellers have not only a very large selection of Murano jewelry in all styles, designs and colors, but also a lot of information on their sites. For example, GlassOfVenice offers thousands of unique models of Murano Glass earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, watches, and other accessories, including a large collection of rare Millefiori pendants.

Good online sellers have some things in common, They have been in business for many years and work directly with the artisans. This is how you can be assured of the top quality and good value. Any seller who uses middlemen to procure Murano Glass pieces cannot assure authenticity and has to charge higher prices.

If you are lucky enough to own a piece of authentic Murano Glass jewelry, you already know that you get compliments whenever you wear it. Looking different and unique, Murano Glass instantly captures attention and brings out questions. Many people first learn about Murano Glass jewelry by seeing it on others and asking about it. So if you have not purchased your first piece yet, don’t wait. Murano Glass is always in fashion and the time to create your own Italian style is now!

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1 comment:

  1. I love such things, especially if the jewelry is made by hand. I often go to small shops when I travel or visit new places to find something unique. Not long ago I found a website which has a large selection of excellent jewelry and earrings


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