A Guide to Crystal Chandelier Glass

Crystals…there are six main types available today, all of which make stunning chandeliers. Explore all six and take your pick.

A crystal chandelier hangs in a room.
Crystal chandeliers provide unmatched elegance to any room.

 The History of Crystal Glass

The history of crystal glass is closely tied to the development of the room chandelier. Chandeliers were originally candle holders and were hung from the ceiling to illuminate a room – and reduce the risk of fire.

Casting Crystal Glass

In the late 17th century a process of casting glass prisms was invented. This glass was easy to produce, relatively cheap, and much easier to work with than real rock crystal that had to be mined and processed. Brand new models of chandeliers were soon being produced that used this glass, which was hand-cut and polished into different shapes and angles to increase candle power light.

A crystal chandelier hangs in a teal room.
Crystals on chandeliers can appear in various shapes and sizes.

Crystal Glass Today

Modern chandeliers and ceiling fixtures use crystal glass in much the same way. A crystal chandelier helps create a visual focal point that draws the eye and suggests a romantic, magical intimacy that other types of lighting simply cannot reproduce.

Today, Schonbek chandeliers, James R. Moder chandeliers, Vienna Full Spectrum chandeliers, and others create dazzling new designs in crystal. And crystal is for more than just chandeliers. A new trend in the use of crystal is in table and floor lamps, and in the application of decorative crystal directly to the frame or body of lamps and other fixtures. No matter where it is used, crystal offers a one-of-a-kind look that can be treasured and enjoyed for generations to come.

Not all crystal is alike, however. There are many different types of crystal glass available today in a wide range of styles, cuts and price points.

Here’s a quick run-down of the six major types:

A chandelier with Swarovski crystal features.
Swarovski Crystal offers the finest chandelier crystal option available.

1. Swarovski Elements Crystal Glass

The finest crystal in the world, Swarovski Elements is manufactured by Swarovski AG in the Austrian Alps using a generations old secret process. Available in a wide range of colors, sizes and shapes, this collection of crystal glass offers a fabulous palette for lighting designers, as well as for designers in the worlds of fashion, jewelry and home accessories.

It is generally machine cut and then machine polished to achieve perfect optic clarity, razor sharp faceting and unique purity and brilliance. An invisible optical coating is then applied to Swarovski Elements glass, making it easier to clean and maintain. And to protect buyers against imitations, the company logo is laser etched in miniature inside each crystal element.

2. Spectra Crystal

Swarovski crystal glass is manufactured by Swarovski AG. Generally less expensive than other Swarovski crystal, Spectra crystal is offered only in limited sizes and shapes compared with Strass crystal.

A contemporary style chandelier featuring Egyptian crystal.
Egyptian crystal is featured in this contemporary chandelier.

3. Egyptian / Moroccan Crystal (Gemcut)

Gemcut crystal is first quality, machine cut crystal glass of a clarity and flawlessness far beyond industry standards. Though not as good as Strass or Swarovski crystal, gemcut is characterized by a prismatic brilliance, visual purity, sharp faceting and precise polishing all its own.

A chandelier featuring Heritage glass.
This chandelier design features Heritage crystal glass.

4. Turkish Crystal (Handcut, Heritage Handcut, Regal)

The methods of producing this type of crystal date back centuries. In a labor intensive process, crystal is first cut by hand in two stages on iron and then sandstone grinding wheels. Then each crystal is polished on a wood wheel with marble dust. You may notice faint traces of the wood wheel in finished pieces, a mark of authenticity.

A bronze finish chandelier with Legacy crystal glass.
This bronze finish chandelier features Legacy crystal glass.

5. Italian Crystal (Legacy, Venetian)

This crystal comes from the historic glass-making region around Venice and has a look and feel all its own. Venetian crystal is molded and fire-polished rather than hand or machine cut, resulting in a beautifully subtle luminosity. It is modestly priced, compared with cut crystal.

A contemporary ceiling light with K9 crystal.
This contemporary ceiling light features K9 crystal, which offers a brilliant look at a modest price.

6. K9 and Chinese Crystal

Mass produced, this crystal type offers a wonderful look at a modest price. It is cut and polished like more expensive grades, and has a high optic quality with precision facets. A good bet for consumers looking for high value and more for less.

Don’t miss our YouTube video (see below) with helpful hints on how to clean and care for your crystal lighting.

Questions?

Call 800-782-1967 to speak with one of our friendly, professional Lighting & Home Decor Consultants or visit a Lamps Plus location near you. Whether via phone or in person, we’re happy to assist you in completing your project.