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Czech crystal

At the turn of the 16th and 17th century Bohemia became the centre of crystal glass production. The original crystal contained a high volume of sodium oxide as a smelter. This facilitated crystal production, but the resulting glass had a relatively low hardness. This hindered the use of cut decoration techniques on the glass products, although that was the main technique used in rock crystal processing.

Important technological discoveries during the crystal production era in Bohemia led to the formation of the ideal crystal glass, particularly suited to cutting and engraving. This glass, called Czech crystal, has been top of the range in the crystal glass industry for more than one century.

The meaning of crystal versus glass changes according to the country. The word "crystal" means, in most of the western world, the presence of lead. According to European Union rules, glass goods containing less than 4% lead are defined as "glass". Goods containing more than 10% lead are defined as "crystal", and goods containing more than 30% lead are defined as "highly leaded crystal". In the USA it is the opposite - glass is defined as "crystal" if it contains only 1% lead. In the Czech republic, the term "crystal" is used for any exquisite, high quality glass. Leaded crystal means crystal containing more than 24% lead oxide.

The presence of lead in crystal softens the glass and makes it more accessible for cutting and engraving. Lead increases the weight of the glass and causes the glass to diffract light. Glass can contain up to 40% lead, if maximum hardness is desired. On the other hand, crystal can contain less than 24% lead if it has a high proportion of barium oxide, which ensures high quality light diffraction.

The difference between glass and crystal is evident to the eye, and we can see it when a crystal chandelier casts color spectrums through the whole room. The higher the lead content, the more dazzling the chandelier.

Czech glass is a particular term in the chandelier industry. Archaeological discoveries have confirmed the existence of glass-blowing in Czech countries since the 9th century. Discoveries in Northern Bohemia (Jablonec), together with bills of sale, support the hypothesis that a glassworks has been running in this locality from the mid 14th century onwards.

Czech glass - symbol of quality, craftsmanship, unique style, beauty and surprisingly low prices - has been sought-after since the 17th century and dominated the European chandelier market. Pure colorless glass called "Czech crystal" produced at that time in Bohemia - of a composition ideal for engraving and cutting - shone superior for more than a century amongst other crystal glass. When it was discovered, a hundred years later, that addition of leaded oxide markedly improved even further the crystal's optical qualities, leaded crystal originated and spread throughout the whole world.

In 1724 the glass-cutter Josef Palme obtained a Royal warrant for chandelier production. The first chandelier producing workshop was launched in the small village of Prácheò, near the city Kamenický Šenov in Northern Bohemia. These crystal chandeliers led the field in Europe until the mid 18th century, and they influenced the evolution and style of future chandeliers all over the world.

Czech crystal chandeliers were sought-after by the aristocracy of the time. The palaces of the French King Lewis XV., the Austrian Empress Mary Teresia and the Russian Czarina Elizabeth were among those admiring the perfection of the original Palme chandeliers. Czech crystal chandeliers, symbols of good taste, wealth and gentility, became as prestigious as expensive jewelry. The glitter of Czech crystal chandeliers magnifies the lustre of castles and palaces of heads of states world wide, and illuminates parliaments, governmental residences, universities, concert halls, cathedrals and sanctums across the globe. Czech crystal chandeliers hang, for example, in Milan's La Scala, Rome's Royal Opera, in Versailles, in the Petrograd museum and in the residence of King Ibn Saud at Riyadh.

Czech crystal chandeliers are deservedly called "crystal sun" - a sun which never sets and which forever remains the jewel in the crown of the Czech glass craft.


Don't forget to look through our Swarovski trim. chandeliers, Crystal chandeliers, Coated crystal chandeliers, Caesar chandeliers and Leaded chandeliers too. If are you looking for smaller crystal lightings, you can try to check through our Crystal lamps or