Murano glass is some of the highest quality, most storied glass in the world. With a history stretching back over 700 years, handmade works of art from Murano are among Italy’s proudest exports. Several high-end Italian furniture and lighting manufacturers, including Reflex incorporate Murano glass into their designs. While plenty of cheaper imitations exist, the genuine article remains a luxury — and an investment — that is well worth seeking out.
The island of Murano, near Venice, became a major glassmaking hub in 1291, after Venice banned foundries from operating within the city. Soon the industry was so important that glassmakers were forbidden to leave the Venetian Republic, and the penalty for practicing their trade abroad, where foreigners might learn it, was death. Murano was the birthplace of a long line of technical and artistic innovations in glassmaking that are still in use today, including millefiori and milk glass. Artisans like Giuseppe Briati started making colored glass chandeliers adorned with flowers, leaves, fruit, curlicues and dangling crystals in the 18th century, in a style still known as Rezzonico. Today, Murano remains home to approximately 1000 artisan glassmakers, working in some of Europe’s oldest factories.
The official Artistic Glass Murano® trademark proves an item’s authenticity, although only about 50 manufacturers use it, so the absence of a trademark label doesn’t necessarily mean a piece isn’t real. Genuine handmade glass is lightweight, will probably have a pontil mark that shows where the glassblower removed the rod, and may contain tiny irregularities like air bubbles.