MURANO GLASS JEWELRY DESIGNS MADE IN ITALY
What does choosing jewelry made of Murano glass means?
Which is the most famous glass in the world ? Surely, Murano glass, but for what reason? This kind of glass receives this recognition due to its artist’s superior craftsmanship resulting in Italian glass with the most vivid of colors and of virtually all possible tints. Murano Glass colorings work hand in hand with superior clarity and transparency much like true and natural crystal. Only using the finest of raw materials results in a Venetian Glass of unequaled purity and value to the customer.
Origin of Venetian Glass
Venetian glass has grown to mythic proportions as the world as a whole has come to appreciate the glory of Venetian Glass.
The origins of glass making in Venice actually go back to the times of the Roman Empire when molded glass was used to assist in the illumination of bathhouses. Blending Roman experience with the skills learned from the Byzantine Empire and trade with the Orient, Venice emerged as a prominent glass-manufacturing center as early as the 8th century.
Byzantine craftsmen played an important role in the development of Venetian glass, an art form for which the city is well-known. When Constantinople was sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, some fleeing artisans came to Venice. It was during the 13th century that many of the important characteristics of these glass objects had been developed. Toward the end of the 13th century, the center of the Venetian Glass industry moved to the island of Murano.
More Artisans migrated to Venice again when the Ottomans took Constantinople in 1453, supplying Venice with still more glassworkers. By the sixteenth century, Venetian artisans had gained even greater control over the color and transparency of their glass, and had mastered a variety of decorative techniques.
Despite efforts to keep Venetian glassmaking techniques within Venice, they became known elsewhere, and Venetian-style glassware was produced in other Italian cities and other countries in Europe.
Venice became home to a very detailed system of glass guild workers. Each worker was bound by a set of guild restrictions that limited production and distribution of finished goods and raw materials, limited travel ouside the city, and provided strict guidelines for customer interaction. Guild members could be part of a number of specialized activities involved in the final production of the glass, and this distribution of labor and expertise led to an increase in productivity and quality of work.
The island of Murano, then an independent neighbor to Venice and not an actual part of the city, eventually set itself apart from all other glassmaking areas as the most technologically advanced glass maker. Murano began enjoying special governmental protections due to the proliferation of its glass making industry and was eventually annexed to become part of the city of Venice.
Although many areas produced Venetian Glass throughout the following centuries, Murano became the hotbed of glass making activity. In fact, Murano Glass became prized above all other Venetian Glass. Murano held a monopoly on quality glass making for the centuries to follow. They essentially set the standard by which all glass makers measure their artwork. Murano Glass is still the favorite of all Venetian Glass today, especially the Murano Glass Jewelry including Murano Glass Necklaces, Murano Glass Bracelets, and Murano Glass Pendants.
More on the History of Murano
Murano is actually made up of a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon in northern Italy. It lies about one mile north of Venice and measures just under a mile across with a population of approximately 5,000. It is most famous for its glass making, particularly its lampworking style of glass making. It was once an independent entity, but Murano is now a territorial subdivision of the comune of Venice.
Murano, Italy’s reputation as a center for glassmaking was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction to the city’s mostly wood constructed buildings, ordered the destruction of all foundries within the city in 1291. Though the Republic ordered this destruction and in effect forced the glass blowers out of the city, it publically authorized and encouraged construction outside the city. By the late 13th century, the glassmaking industry was centered in Murano.
The circumstances that enabled Murano to become the hotbed of glass making is quite fascinating! By the late 1200s, the production of glass objects of the finest quality was the city’s major industry as confirmed by the establishment of the Glassmakers Guild that laid out rules and regulations for the craftsmen. The purpose of the Guild was to safeguard the secrets of the trade and ensure the profitability of the industry. In line with these objectives, a 1271 law prohibited the importation of foreign glass or the employment of foreign glassworkers.
Murano was a popular tourist destination for both the affluent and the middle class during the Renaissance, the cultural movement that spanned the period roughly from the 14th to the 17th century. It began in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spread to the rest of Europe. Travelers came not only to visit the glass workshops (today they are factories), but also to view many of the religious relicts in the area. It was a pleasing rest stop on their way to the Holy Land. This trend in tourism continues today as visitors flock to glass studios to witness the miracle of creation that is glass blowing.
Like most of Italy, Murano was experiencing an economic surge in this time period due to the growing number of population that occurred after the plague. More people flooded the area thereby increasing the demand for goods and services. This led to a significant improvement in economic status for the Murano region.
An affluent middle class made up of merchants, bankers, and trademen gradually developed leading to an increased consumption of luxury goods. Obviously, Murano Glass Jewelry such as Murano Glass Necklaces, Murano Glass Bracelets, and Murano Glass Pendants were luxury items.
Naturally, the most prominent good was the beautiful glass. Murano glass, at the time, was a novel possession. It was far less expensive than items made of precious metals, but at the same time the glass was so beautiful and impressive to display. Glass not only provided functionality in the form of kitchen wares but also could be used to convey status and wealth in the form of luxury glass. With the benefit of its tourism and the ability to produce these quality, technologically advanced goods, Murano became the epicenter of the glass making industry. This is what enabled Murano to become the epitome of fine glassware.
Murano, Italy glassmakers were soon the island’s most prominent citizens. By the 14th century, glassmakers were actually allowed to wear swords, enjoy immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state, and soon found their daughters married into Venice’s most affluent families. However, there was one very important condition to this lifestyle. Glassmakers were not allowed to leave the Republic. Still, many craftsmen took the risk of moving outside of Murano and setting up glass furnaces in surrounding cities. Some of them moved away as far as England or the Netherlands.
Regardless of the various changes that happened throughout the years, Murano, Italy glassmakers held a monopoly on quality glassmaking throughout the following centuries. The glassblowers of Murano refined many technologies including crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), sparkling copper (adventurina), multicoloured glass (millefiori, meaning “one thousand flowers” in Italian), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano still employ these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and murano glass jewelry to Murano glass chandeliers. Murano Glass Jewelry including Murano Glass Necklaces, Murano Glass Bracelets, and Murano Glass Pendants still include all of the techniques and technologies noted above.
Today, Murano is home to the Museo Vetrario Glass Museum in Palazzo Giustinian. This glass museum offers displays on the history of glassmaking, and displays glass pieces of different eras ranging from Egyptian times through present day.
Furnace in Murano
Man blowing glass during Serenissima’s republic