Once upon a time, chandeliers were a sort of status symbol; a symbol of wealth and sophistication. While the purpose of the fixture was to light the room, much care was given to make it a work of art. The earliest chandeliers held candles, of course, and were later converted to accommodate gas and electrical bulbs.
While many of the world's oldest and most opulent chandeliers are at home in European castles, some are found in the United States.
The White House boasts two famous chandeliers. The one located in the Blue Room is 79 x 36 feet, and takes the staff 2 days to clean. A beautiful crystal chandelier located in the Red Room, has held its place of honor since 1805.
The United States of America is a democracy, but it is not without 'royalty'; the aristocracy dating back to the days of the Industrial Revolution. One of those families is the Vanderbilt family. The Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate is home to a wrought iron chandelier that lights the grand staircase with 72 lights.
Graceland, home of the late Elvis Presley, had a beautiful Italian cut glass chandelier installed in the dining room of his home that still gives the thousands of people who visit his home each year, to speak of its remarkable beauty.
The world's largest chandelier is located in the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul. The fixture, a gift from England's Queen Victoria, has 750 lamps and weighs over 4 tons!
Other 'famous' chandeliers include the one made of antlers in the lodge where Gaston sings his intentions to make Belle his wife in Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast', the chandelier that does not stand a chance in Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt's new house in 'Cheaper by the Dozen', and of course, the chandelier which crashes dramatically to the floor in 'Phantom of the Opera'.
Today, chandeliers are not nearly the status symbol they once were. Chandeliers are available from any home improvement or lighting store. Chandeliers can be as simple or ornate as you want them to be, in any style you want, and with as wide of variety of lamp shades as there is for conventional lamps.