Traditionally used to explicitly express to visitors wealth and social status, the chandelier has long been a feature only found in Palaces and Grand Halls of Mansions of the rich and Famous. More recently chandeliers have been re-invented in many different styles and designs to add a touch of elegance and a decorative focal point to the most modest of homes.
The most ancient chandeliers were used in medieval times and consisted of a very simple wooden cross design incorporating candles. Some of the most famous chandeliers arose in the 15th Century, when they were used purely as a symbol of luxury and status and were far less practical. Primarily based on a crown or ring design, only the wealthiest of the upper class could afford such extravagant lighting systems. As technology improved, so did the chandelier encompassing gas in the 19th century and later electricity. The use of crystal became increasingly popular due to its light refracting properties and spurred the creation of some exquisite ornaments.
The world’s largest chandelier is believed to be the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman. The chandelier is made entirely of gold plated metal and is covered in Swarovski crystal and weighs nearly 8.5 tons. It hangs 14 metres from the ceiling and is the focal point of the Minaret. However, the Kocatepe Mosque in Turkey argues they hold the largest chandelier , which is 5.5 metres in diameter and incorporates 32 side lights and 4 corner lights. It is also made of gold plating and smaller crystal balls connected with chains form the central giant spherical structure.
The chandelier housed in the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, is the most famous addition to the largest collection of Bohemian crystal chandeliers in the world. The gift from Queen Victoria in 1800’s to the Ottoman Empire, possesses 750 lamps and weighs 4.5 tons.
Other famous chandeliers include the grand chandelier in the Blue Room (reception room) of the White House and the one Elvis imported into his Graceland Estate made from Italian cut glass, which still resides in the grand dining room. But almost certainly the most famous chandelier in the world is the one from the Phantom of the Opera which, in one historical scene, is crashed by the Phantom.
However more recently, available in almost every material and a variety of styles, chandeliers have become quite fashionable. Designs, such as the popular chrome chandelier , have moved away from its luxurious predecessors to integrate a more contemporary practical style suitable for every home.