Murano Art Glass - is it fake or real?

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For lovers of Murano Glass, purchasing an item that is eventually found to be fake is a heart wrenching experience.  So, how do you know if the piece you have purchased is indeed authentic Murano Glass?

Here are some hints and tips on just how you can ensure that your next purchase is authentic.

Makers and Techniques

In 1291, all furnaces that were operating on the Veneitan mainland were banished to the islands of Murano due to numerous fires starting in buidlings which were made entirely of wood.  Since then, each furnace has taken age old skills and techniques then created their own "signature" if you will.  Lets look at some examples:

a.   Venini Murano mastered their signature INCALMO technique whcih was utilised by Tapio Wirkala with great effect
b.   AVEM Murano created the TUTTI FRUTTI technique whereby mutliple pieces of glass were laid in random patterns creating a stunning overall effect

Labels and Marks

All authetnic Murano Glass is issued with either a lable from the furnace that produced the piece or one of the following:

a.   A VETRO ARTISTICO MURANO (VAM) number which guarantees you that the furnace has been certified by the AMA (Association of Venetian Master Glass craftsman), the peak body which authenticates and issues VAM numbers

b.   A CONSORZIO PROMOVETRO MURANO label which again is issued by the AMA to authenticate that the piece you have purchased is indeed Murano Glass

c.   Almost all furnaces operating in Venice today have their own applied label that accompanies each piece produced.  With Vintage and Antiques pieces, most if not all were issued with labels which sadly have been lost over time.  Attributing Antique and Vintage pieces to a factory by labels alone is an incredibly difficult area as many used the same style of label so attributing a piece is normally done by the techniques used, shapes and if a designer had been commissioned by the furnace in question to produce the piece.

Signatures

As a general rule, if your piece does not have an attached label, it will normally carry a signature of the furnace and / or master who produced the piece.  This is done in 2 ways:

a.   An acid etched signature where a gentle acidic solution is used via a template an gently etched onto the base of the object.  This technique was used mostly on Vintage pieces such as Venini, or 

b.   A diamond point engraved signature which is the most common form of signature.  This is where the Maestro skillfully takes a diamond point engraving tool and writes his signature on the piece.  It will sometime just have his name or MADE IN ITALY, dated such as AUG 91 etc.  There are many various signatures and the Murano Masters write their name backwards such as VIDAL LUCA or SEGUSO GIANNI etc

Chinese Fakes

As with just about every product on the market that has a huge worldwide following, the Chinese will produce inept and to honest, horrific attempts at copying designer pieces.  Unfortunately, Murano Glass is one such major brand.   So, how do you tell if it is a Chinese knock-off?

a.   The use of MURANO GLASS in any description by a Chinese, HongKong or other eBay member that is not based in Venice or is an approved dealer for the furnaces in Murano is committng an offence under the VERO programme.  The ONLY time that a member can say that the item they are selling is MURANO GLASS is if it can be positively identified as beign authentic by utilising the methods we have discussed above.  If it is not produced iN VENICE, then IT IS NOT AUTHENTIC MURANO GLASS.  It can only be stated as MURANO STYLE.

b.   Chinese knock-offs are increidbly heavy, lack clarity and are simply horrendous examples the demean the skills of a glass blower who must take 15 to 20 years to earn the title MAESTRO.  For example, NO REAL GOLD is used on Chandeliers or lighting produced in China.  There chandeliers are almost always PYREX which have been painted with a cerrtain colour then when the PYREX if fired, it adheres to the PYREX to give the impression of glass.  A cheap and nasty attempt by these unscrupulous manufacturers to fool you. 

c.   The Chinese DO NOT USE real 24 carat gold in their products, ONLY Authentic MURANO GLASS does.  The Chinese do however use AVENTURRINE which is where Copper filings are added to the glass.  The aventurrine is identified by a darker brown / copper look, distinctly different to 24 Carat Gold.  

d.   The Chinese produce pieces that are totally inept in both design and quality.  They are bulky, very badly made and most do not have a polished pontil mark which is where the PONTI or rod that carries the glass piece has been snapped off the finished piece.  I have however seen some piece produced in China that do have polished pontil rod marks, yet another unscrupulous attempt to decieve you.

I trust that this guide has and will give you some basic techniques on how to identify fake Murano Glass and continue to enjoy your next purchase in the confidence that what you have bought is indeed the REAL DEAL

Regards

Dean Cato
CEO
Murano Art Glass Australia


 
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