Murano's reputation as a center for glassmaking was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and the destruction of the city's mostly wooden buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291. Murano glass is still associated with Venetian glass.
Murano's glassmakers were soon numbered among the island's most prominent citizens. By the fourteenth century, glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state and found their daughters married into Venice's most affluent families. While benefiting from certain statutory privileges, glassmakers were forbidden to leave the Republic. However, many of them took the risks associated with migration and established glass furnaces in surrounding cities and farther afield - sometimes in England and the Netherlands.
Murano's glassmakers held a monopoly on high-quality glassmaking for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including optically clear glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), 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 glass jewelry to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers.
Venice kept protecting the secret of the production of glass and of crystal but, notwithstanding it, the Republic partially lost its monopoly at the end of the sixteenth century, because of some glass makers who let the secret be known in many European countries.
Some of the companies that own historical glass factories in Murano are among the most important brands of glass in the world. These companies include Venini, Alessandro Mandruzzato Ferro Murano, Barovier & Toso, Simone Cenedese and Seguso. In order to protect the original Murano Glass art from foreign markets, the most famous Glass Factories of this island have a trademark that certifies glass made products on the island of Murano.
The oldest Murano glass factory that is still active today is that of Pauly & C. - Compagnia Venezia Murano, founded in 1866