When were chandeliers first invented? | VONN Lighting Skip to content

When were chandeliers first invented?

Dating back to the Middle Ages, chandeliers have come a long way from branched animal fat candle holders to a symbol of social stature and now an elegant light fixture present in thousands of homes. Yes, you read that right. The word chandelier is a French derivative of chandelle- meaning candle. Back in 1066, the Anglo-Saxon churches would suspend wooden structures from their ceilings to support candles made from animal fat for adequate lighting across the room; such was the humble beginnings of chandeliers. Decades later, these lighting fixtures have come to see a myriad of variations and updates, including the innovation of the LED chandelier.

Brief background history of chandeliers

Chandeliers first appeared as early as the 15th century; back then, popularly termed polycandelons. Quite similar to the Byzantine’s 5th-6th centuries art, polycandelon took the form of a wooden cross or flat metal discs with hanging extensions where the candles would sit. Soon after, these pioneering chandelier prototypes were widespread in churches before footing their presence in castles and royal palaces. Towards the end of the 15th century, chandelier artisans had taken up new production techniques and utilized different materials to forge improved and elaborate chandelier designs. Chandeliers symbolized triumph, power, luxury, and class, as most wealthy and noble residences adopted them as decorative statement pieces rather than functional lighting fixtures. It is safe to say that the introduction of complex gold-gilded elements and bold shapes did a flip on the evolution of chandeliers.

Developments of chandeliers from the 16th- 19th centuries

The evolution of chandeliers didn’t stop there. By the 16th century, the structures had grown famous and appeared in working-class homes. However, even with their exclusivity dying down, chandeliers still maintained a significant gap between social classes. More elaborate and ornate designs kept cropping up across Europe, stratifying the middle-class families from the nobility- the working-class household conformed to wrought iron, wood, and tin chandeliers. In contrast, the bourgeois adopted rock crystal chandeliers hung from gilt silver metal structures. Since then, significant improvements have hallmarked the history of chandeliers; here is a breakdown.

17th-18th century chandeliers

By the 17th century, chandelier designs were more elaborate as artisans explored different variations and raw materials. Finally, the 18th century brought a significant shift from transparent rock crystal chandeliers to blown glass that came in unique colors. Gio Ponti, the Italian brains behind this revolution, was an exceptional architect/designer working from the Venetian Island of Murano. He manufactured Venetian glass, making them a relatively cheaper chandelier alternative than rock crystal. Not only was the Venetian glass affordable, but it was also more brilliant, transparent, and soft, making it easier to shape- this marked the golden age of the chandelier.

Chandeliers in the 19th century

Come the 19th century, chandeliers were widespread, with notable names like Daniel Swarovski producing cut stones for ornate crystal chandeliers. However, while the revolution was at its peak, house fires grew rampant, motivating innovators to develop a safer option. In the 19th century, gas was introduced as the primary source of artificial light. Candle chandeliers were then quickly replaced by gasoliers encased in glass.

Chandeliers in the 20th century

The final half of the 19th century was marked by electricity’s discovery, translating into the mass production of light bulbs and electric chandeliers. At this phase, society was more concerned with optimal lighting; thus, most households ditched the bulky crystal elements for affordable and more straightforward chandeliers.


Modern-day chandeliers are revolutionary, most taking a variety of forms and designs. There have been several changes throughout the long history of chandeliers, but one constant factor- optimization. For centuries, society has looked to improve and upgrade the functionality of chandeliers right from the polycandelon age. Today, chandeliers come in LED options that are more sustainable and affordable. With a vast range of designs to choose from, we’re looking at an impressive selection of chandeliers to match any home theme, taste, and preference. So, go ahead and give your space that elegant touch it deserves with LED chandeliers.