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Guide to Chandeliers

Chandelier Shades

Find out more about Chandelier Shades

For most people, the word chandelier brings to mind fantastic images of highly ornate, extremely large, and preposterously expensive décor suitable only for gracing the great halls of palaces or fancy hotels. What they don’t realize is that chandeliers (taken from the French word for candle) have much humbler origins. At a time when candles were the only light source available after dark, it was discovered that the constant threat of fire could be avoided by simply hanging the candles from the ceiling by means of a contraption that was eventually to become known as the chandelier.

After the introduction of electricity, real candle chandeliers were eventually replaced by electric imitations of the same thing, which continue to be a highly popular form of interior decoration and lighting today. Because exposed electric light bulbs can be so hard on the naked eye, ways of shading and diffusing this light in a softer manner were invented. Similar to the way cloth lamp shades or glass ceiling light covers operate, chandelier shades help to soften the harshness of exposed electric light by acting as a sort of light filtration device.

There are many types, styles, and colors of chandelier shades on the market today. Generally speaking though, these fall into three basic categories:

  • glass shades
  • cloth shades
  • chimney shades

The first of these types, glass shades or what are also referred to as torchiere shades, are by far the most expensive. These can range in price from around $50 each for a small, simple white glass shade, to upwards of $120 dollars for a more ornate, beige glass shade. Torchiere shades are available in only a handful of shapes and colors, but they do add an element of class to an otherwise basic chandelier design.

The second type of shade, what are known as cloth shades, are very similar in form to the shade on a standard table lamp, except they are only a fraction the size. Ranging in price from $3 to $6 a piece, cloth shades are by far a cheaper option than the glass variety. What is more, the range of color, style, and pattern options are also much greater.

The final chandelier shade type is what is called a chimney shade. This sort of shade is akin to the glass casing around the flame of an oil lamp. The glass that chimney shades are made of is often given a frosted texture in order to better diffuse the light from the bulb. Chimney shades are available in either clear or frosty, white or black, patterned or plain, and cost anywhere from $3 - $10 a piece.