Nothing says glamour quite like a luxury chandelier. Who doesn’t dream of a vast, extravagant fountain of light, a curtain of crystal or a few delicate designer droplets? Whether you are looking for something grand and imposing like a stunning staircase chandelier or a much smaller, subtle chandelier for a cosy space, a luxury chandelier will always make a statement. See Luxury Lighting, Principles of Design and our Chandelier FAQs for more information on how to incorporate a gorgeous chandelier (or two) into your overall lighting scheme.
What is a Chandelier?
The word chandelier is French in origin and simply means something that holds candles. These days, it refers to a decorative, often ornate, light fitting that is hung from the ceiling, with multiple lights. This multitude of lights is what distinguishes it from a standard pendant or ceiling light. From its humble beginnings as a simple wooden cross with a few spikes to hold candles in place, the chandelier has embraced changing fashions, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, tax penalties, the invention of the electric light bulb and the use of exciting, modern materials – and it has remained endlessly popular. Traditional designs are still thriving, and modern technology is sparking a renewed interest, with a host of quirky, innovative designs. The advent of the electric light bulb meant that arms could be twisted in any direction, allowing light to be directed down into a room or up into dark corners. At one time, the size of a chandelier was limited by its weight. Today’s modern materials mean that weight can be significantly reduced, allowing for some grand and elaborate installations.
How to Choose a Chandelier
The style of chandelier you choose depends very much upon your own taste. There are so many styles and designs out there that there is something to suit every type of interior. Whether you are creating a completely new interior or looking for something that fits with your existing décor, your chandelier needs to be an integral part of the design, not an afterthought. However, there are rules when it comes to size and placement. See our Chandelier FAQs for answers to all your questions.
Styles of Chandelier
For a brief history of chandeliers, see our Chandelier Buyers’ Guide. We believe that when it comes to something as stunning as a chandelier, one picture can paint a thousand words, so we’ll give you a brief introduction to each of the styles, then let the pictures speak for themselves…
A corona chandelier forms a beautiful ring of light. One of the earliest types of chandelier, the corona would originally have been a simple iron hoop with spikes to secure the candles. Today’s corona chandeliers range from a simple but stylish gold-plated ring with candle lights – much the same as its earlier incarnation but with the addition of coloured crystals to reflect the light – through to ultra modern designs with LED or halogen bulbs, polished, brushed or hammered metal finishes or a profusion of sparkling prisms or crystals.
The Flemish or Dutch-style chandelier became popular in the 15th century. Originally made of brass with a central orb and upward-facing arms, they swept across France and England, paving the way for even more elaborate designs. Many modern designs still use the same basic design, although the orb may well be replaced by a simple stem, a slimmer shape or a variety of stylised leaves or abstract shapes. The basic shape has been taken but re-worked in a whole range of more opulent materials, such as the beautiful smoked glass chandelier shown below. This really was the beginning of the modern chandelier.
Following the French Revolution, there was a move away from the decadence of the highly ornate, baroque-style chandelier. Designers pared back their creations, with cleaner lines and classical proportions, with embellishments inspired by nature and mythology.
One of the most important innovations in chandelier design came in 1676 when the Ravenscroft company created lead crystal. This is, in fact, not crystal at all but a glass whose lead content gives it much greater clarity and makes it easier to cut. Chandeliers made of all glass were developed by skilled English craftsmen and exported across Europe. Glass will always be a popular material when designing chandeliers due to the way it reflects and refracts light, enhancing any light source. And why stick to traditional pear-shaped or faceted droplets? Modern designs use moulded or blown glass to incorporate swirls, flowers, even tiny people. See the stunning designs below.
Empire, English Regency or Tent & Bag Chandelier
One of the most influential and impressive chandelier designs came about because of a tax levied on all English glasshouses in the 18th century. In an attempt to cut costs and use less glass, manufacturers started using strings of small droplets made from broken glass. These were hung from the top of the chandelier to a circular frame, creating a tent shape. More strings were then suspended underneath the frame to form the bag. Instead of glass arms, candles were fixed into small holders attached to the frame. Modern designs include glass droplets, clear and coloured crystals and even superfine metallic chains to dramatic effect. What started out as a simple and economical design has inspired a host of variations and still epitomises luxury today.
As you have no doubt noticed, the majority of our luxury chandeliers use crystals somewhere as part of their design and no blog post on chandeliers would be complete without mention of Daniel Swarovski. In 1892, he invented a machine that could cut crystals with the utmost precision, creating the finest crystals. The name Swarovski is still synonymous with perfection today. It goes without saying, however, that every crystal used in our chandeliers, Swarovski or otherwise, is perfect – chosen for brilliance and clarity. Crystals can be incorporated into any style of chandelier, from Flemish or Neoclassical right through to the most ultra-contemporary designs. Crystal’s ability to reflect and refract light, splitting it into a rainbow of gentle colours, makes it the perfect addition to any chandelier.
If you have the space, we would always urge everyone to have a chandelier in their stairwell. These chandeliers are absolutely stunning and create a fabulous focal point. Whether your décor is traditional, classic or contemporary, a tall and spectacular explosion of light makes a magnificent statement. For information on size and placement, see our Chandelier FAQs.
Modern Chandeliers come in all shapes, all sizes and all materials. If it can be imagined, designers will find a way to create it. Many contemporary chandeliers take inspiration from traditional designs but take them several steps further with the use of modern, lightweight materials, LED lights, and fantastic, distinctly un-traditional shapes. Sleek, straight lines combine with gleaming, polished surfaces, bouncing light off metallic elements as well as glass and crystal. You may find that the line blurs between chandeliers and multiple pendant lights. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are all gorgeous, flawless and a spectacular addition to your home. Take a good look through our whole range of chandeliers and see just how imaginative today’s designers can be.
We hope we’ve sparked an interest and inspired you to include at least one chandelier in your next interiors project. We realise that something on this scale can be more than daunting. The answer? Give our friendly interior design team a call, tell them about your project and ask them which chandeliers they think would work best for you. They can advise on sizes, colours and customisation options to create your perfect chandelier. What are you waiting for?