The History of Chandeliers

Ah, the chandelier. An elegant decorative light fixture of intricate design, gorgeous lighting, and social status. Let’s dive into the bright history of chandeliers!

How long ago did the first chandeliers originate?

The chandelier’s humble beginnings began back in the Middle Ages around the 14th century. Candle chandeliers became popular to the upper-class, hanging within the homes and buildings of nobility.

What materials were used to create early chandeliers?

The originating chandeliers fused bronze & cast metals such as intricate ormolu (gold coated bronze) with arrays of candles. Other chandeliers incorporated carved and gilded wood. Eventually, glass-making advancements resulted in cheaper lead glass production, leading to the crystal chandelier. Interestingly, lead glass is known as “crystal” in the context of a chandelier, and lead glass technically lacks a crystalline structure!

As medieval centuries progressed, the wealthy continued to invest in larger and more expensive, outrageous chandeliers. More gold was used, candles lit, lights scattered off crystal. The wealthy competed against each other in taste and status.

From where did chandeliers receive their inspiration?

The design elements of chandeliers were inspired by the neoclassical movement. Classical art and culture of both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome largely influenced the design of 18th century chandeliers. As French and Italian glass-makers became more proficient in their craft and honed their artistic glass and light source skills, they masterfully blended their influences together, melding their glass materials to best reflect light in a unique way.

How long did a chandelier take to create in the past?

Creating a splendid chandelier in their infancy was no easy feat. Glass-makers toiled day in and day out, burning through their valuable light fixture materials, all in the hopes of creating a beautiful masterpiece. The time required to create a chandelier varied based on size requirements, resources available, and number & skill of workers. Labor involved combinations of carving, casting, glass blowing & welding, and lighting. Based on materials used, chandelier producers were required to carefully alter their methods of labor for the job at hand.

How did chandelier lighting evolve?

The earliest chandeliers used candles. It wasn’t until the 19th century that gas lit chandeliers were developed. This was a fast-evolving period for chandeliers, as gas lit chandeliers were more of a bridge to hybrid electric lit chandeliers in the 1890s. Of course, electric only chandeliers became mainstay as the supply and distribution of electricity improved. Electric bulbs were used for light, imitating the old-fashioned look of candles without the waxy, burning mess!

How did the reasons to own a chandelier transform?

Chandeliers turned more decorative & practical in their use in the 20th century. The fixtures were less about extreme wealth or status after the arrival of gas & electricity powered lighting. Chandeliers started migrating into new indoor and outdoor spaces, adding to decor in fresh, exciting ways. A wider selection of beautiful and affordable chandeliers became available on the market. Today, we have the ability to own almost any style of chandelier, with innovative fixtures such as crystal orb chandeliers and solar powered chandeliers in development.

The history of chandeliers is instilled with the flow of art, innovation, and incredible craftsmanship. Their rise to popularity helped enlighten both craftsman and innovators alike in their use of available resources and lighting technology.