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The History of Chandeliers

Although everyone likes to see a stylish and upmarket chandelier in their home, most people know little about the history of these hanging lights. In the following article, we wanted to give you a short overview of how chandeliers have emerged (and changed) throughout the centuries, and why they became so popular. Hopefully, we’ll manage to set the record straight and give you some interesting facts you can call upon in the future.

Candle lights

Originating from the French word “chandelle”, the word “chandelier” translates as “candle holder” – and that’s exactly what they were during the early days. The first known chandeliers came about during the 14th century, and they consisted of a very simple design. In these days, two wooden beams were fitted together in a cross formation, with spikes at each end to hold the candles.

Although these early designs looked nothing like the ornate pieces that are available today, they formed the basis of many of the products you know and love. During these years, chandeliers were predominantly used in churches, halls, and abbeys, and were so expensive that only the richest people in society could afford to hang them at home.

Techniques of production have also changed drastically during the last few hundred years, and manufacturers began to make chandeliers out of different types of materials. By the 16th century, people could purchase versions of the product made from metal and even crystal.

In the 1800s, people began to use gas as their primary form of artificial light, which spurred inventors to create the classic gasoliers (chandeliers that use gas burners instead of candles or light bulbs) you can still see in museums today. During those years, many traditional chandeliers were converted to accommodate the new gas concept. It was during these times that chandeliers became a status symbol thanks to their intricate and beautiful designs.

These new gasoliers were considered safer than their candle-bearing counterparts for a number of reasons. Firstly, the once open flame was now covered by a glass case, which helped to reduce the number of house fires that were caused by this open flame. Secondly, there was no longer need to replace the candles, which made owners’ lives considerably easier.

Modern chandeliers are, in fact, very similar to the old designs we see in stately homes and museums these days, and they are still one of the must-have status symbols for rich and famous people. However, prices have come down considerably since they first reached the markets, making them much more affordable to the general public.

Crystal Chandelier

The Art Deco movement in the 1920s saw many changes in design and construction. Designers embraced modern technology and sought techniques that would allow mass production. Were it not for those entrepreneurs back then, chandeliers might not be so readily available today.

In 2002, Swarovski launched the “Crystal Palace” collection which, once again, created a lot of interest in chandelier products. They included several innovative designs, some of which even included pixel boards that could show tweets and text messages.

One thing is for certain – chandeliers are just as popular today as they were 500 years ago. The only difference? They have become much more affordable than they used to be hundreds of years ago.