A Guide to Chandeliers- some general advise

A History of Chandeliers
The very early origins of chandeliers were simply a multitude of candles placed on objects like cart wheels and other wooden frames to illuminate large spaces. Quite simply a single candle or even a 3 candle candelabra just did not produce enough light to illuminate a large space so people had to think of ingenious ways to hold a multitude of candles in order to get sufficient light. Now the basic ones were just cart wheels but soon design came into play and large wrought iron designs were made and then later, as the rich and famous wanted more elegant designs, the glass chandelier was born. Initially the designs were constrained by the limited manufacturing capability but as skills advanced the glassmakers leaned new techniques to make fine chandeliers.
One of the origins of fine chandeliers is Bohemia in the Czech Republic. The glassmaking in this region started in 1724 and from this date they have enjoyed a reputation for making fine glassware and chandeliers that ornament fine buildings and palaces across the world.
Early chandeliers were all lit by candles and some still are, but the majority were modified to take electricity utilising ornate candle light bulbs. Nowadays they are all made this way and chandeliers are today a timeless tradition as they have been for centuries.

The Different Types of Chandeliers

Chandeliers can be either traditional or contemporary. Whilst the contemporary ones can really be as radical as the designer chooses, the traditional chandeliers to fit into broad categories. The main categories of traditional chandeliers are basket chandeliers, glass arm chandeliers and waterfall chandeliers. A basket chandelier is in essence an enclosure of crystal chains which can either me mounted straight to the ceiling or suspended from a chain and is then lit by an array of internal lamps. The glass armed chandelier has a set of ornate glass arms, either in a single layer or multiple tiers and at the end of each arm there is a candle dish and candle lamp. In contrast the waterfall design is a set of cascading crystal chains attached to a metal structure and can take a multitude of different shapes and forms.

A Guide to Crystal

It is the crystal on chandeliers that gives them that special sparkle which characterises the light fitting as a chandelier and then the degree of sparkle provides a good indication of the quality of the crystal. The major attribute that produces the sparkle is the leads content of the crystal often known as PbO (lead oxide) content. If the leads content is around 24% then you have a high quality lead crystal and the highest quality lead crystals will be about 31% PbO. As you increase the lead content then you improve the refractive properties of the light as it passed through the crystal producing brilliant sparkle and if daylight is passed through the crystal then the refraction will produce light in all the colours of the rainbow. This can often be seen on a chandelier as sunlight is cast through a window and is then refracted by the crystals and you will see spectrum of coloured light patterns across the walls. In contrast if the crystal is of a poor quality and under 7% then these effects will be negligible and the chandelier cannot be classified as an item of true beauty.

Some design advice on Chandeliers

One of the basic rules on buying a chandelier is to purchase one that is the right style for the character of the property. If you have a splendid old Victorian or Georgian property then ornament it with a traditional chandelier. Conversely if you have a modern style new build then invest in a contemporary style chandelier that will fit well with the interior design theme. The next thing is to buy one of the right size. There is a rule you can apply here that will give you the approximate size of the chandelier to fit the room. Add together the width and length of the room measured in feet and then this will give you the diameter of the chandelier you need measure in inches. So for example if your room is 15 foot long and 16 foot wide then the ideal chandelier diameter is 31 inches. Then my final piece of advice is to choose carefully because a chandelier is an item that will be with you for a long time, probably generations.

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