Well I for one adore chandeliers, I am naturally fascinated by the play of light when I see them in a brocante, or when you see the château owners sourcing them on the local brocante on the Escape to the Château.  I also love modern ones but there is something magical about the authentic French chandeliers you would see in the heyday of such palaces as the world famous Versailles.

An antique crystal chandelier consists of hundreds of individually cut and polished pieces of leaded glass.  This refraction of light distributed the light of the candles before the modern day electric lights. The fine craftsmanship involved in creating the shaping of the crystals to capture the colours and reflect them back is a true work of art.  

So when you go chandelier hunting how do you know what you are buying?  Finding a stamp or artist mark on a crystal chandelier is not always easy, perhaps such a mark was never there.  So you need to look for certain identifiers such as:

  1. A vintage chandelier will have drip pans which were used to collect the candle wax and this is where you might find  the artist’s stamp. A clue when looking for chandeliers made in France is the characteristic floral shape of the pans.
  2. The next clue is in the colour of the glass.  The 19th century chandeliers used a higher lead content which makes the glass have a greyish tint which is a good indicator of authenticity.  
  3. Then there’s the shape, French origin chandeliers were more commonly designed with almond shaped drops.  
  4. Of course an obvious tip is that original chandeliers were not wired for electricity.  Mid 19th century saw the advent of gas powered chandeliers and original ones were converted to “gasoliers”.  The retro fit constituted hollow glass or metal tubes forming the arms enabling gas flow.
  5. Materials for the core of chandelier were typically brass, bronze or copper and the crystals were usually faceted on both sides which is not common nowadays.

Finally, if you are looking to invest in an amazing antique chandelier the best advice is to buy from a reputable source.  Based upon the tips we have given you, an expert should be able to identify the maker, the source and the approximate age of this beautiful piece and now of course you will know what questions to ask!  Happy brocante hunting!