History: Czech crystal chandeliers

Czech glass, also known as Bohemia Crystal, is glass produced in the region of Bohemia, a part of the current Czech Republic. Glassmaking in the Czech territory was developed mainly in mountains areas. The oldest archaeological excavations of glass sites in the region date from around 1250 and are located in the Lužické hory (Lusatian Mountains) in northern Bohemia. These areas had enough basic raw materials needed for glass production.


Czech glassmakers discovered potash in combination with chalk and created clear colourless glass that was more stable than glass from Italy. In the 16th century, the term Czech crystal was first used to distinguish its qualities from glass made elsewhere. This glass did not contain any lead, as is commonly expected. Czech crystal became a popular product. In the 17th century, it dominated the European market and, for more than a century, it surpassed other crystal glass. One hundred years later, the adding of lead oxide was found to significantly improve the optical properties of the crystal. This created lead crystal and spread throughout the world.


In 1724, Josef Palme, a glass grinder, obtained a royal license to manufacture chandeliers. The first workshop for the production of chandeliers was established on the territory of today's town of Kamenický Šenov in northern Bohemia. Czech crystal chandeliers were very popular in Europe until the middle of the 18th century and influenced the development and style of future chandeliers around the world.


The local specialty is the lamps and chandeliers named Maria Theresa, after the Austro-Hungarian Empress, who fell in love with them. The Maria Theresa chandeliers have metal arms that are lined with glass-shaped slices. These slices are attached to the arms by glass rosettes. This manufacturing process allows making larger and stronger constructions of classic chandeliers.


Czech crystal chandeliers were also sought after by the nobility.
The palaces of King Louis XV of France, the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, and the Russian Empress Elisabeth were decorated with original, perfect Palme’s chandeliers.
Czech crystal chandeliers were a sign of good taste, wealth and nobility, and became as prestigious as expensive jewellery.
The glitter of Czech crystal chandeliers enhances lustres of castles and chateauxes, illuminates parliaments, government headquarters, universities, concert halls, cathedrals and shrines around the world.