6 Precious Materials for Luxury Lamps
Murano glass and Bohemian crystal, gold and silk, marble and Austrian origin crystals: how far human art has come in the field of lighting since the first simple terracotta lamps!
Particularly from the 17th century onwards, lamps ceased to be a simple object of common use and began to be considered as elements that could give elegance to environments and lustre to their owners: craft techniques were refined, decorations became bolder and more precious materials were used.
Since then we never stopped evolving and experimenting, but always with a clear objective in mind: to make lamps a luxury item.
How did gold come to have the highest value? Because it is not vulgar, it is not useful, and it gleams with mild splendour; it always gives of itself. Only as a reflection of the noblest virtue did gold attain the noblest value.
In 1291, the Republic of Venice, fearful of possible fires, decided to move all the city’s glass workshops to the nearby island of Murano: the legend of the world’s most famous glass was born.
In that small nucleus of workshops, glassmaking reached the peak of its splendour: master craftsmen developed techniques still used today and all the courts of Europe began to compete for their services. Glass and its working ceased to be used for simple utilitarian purposes and with the advent of crystal, it became a tool for decorating and embellishing objects, lamps and mirrors.
In the photo our Mathilde hanging lamp, whose bunches are made of sparkling Murano glass.
Until the 17th century, fine rock crystal was used to adorn chandeliers, especially by the Italian aristocracy. This beautiful but very expensive material was soon replaced by an equally precious material available in larger quantities: Bohemian crystal.
The Bohemian glassmakers succeeded in obtaining a lead-free glass that was more stable than any glass previously produced. Schools of glassmaking soon sprang up, Bohemian craftsmen became highly sought-after teachers, and Bohemian crystal soon became synonymous with the highest quality combined with refined workmanship of a high artistic standard.
Octagons and gems of our wall lamp London are made of Bohemian crystal, today as centuries ago one of the most sought after and used materials.
The quintessential precious material: a symbol of wealth and power, gold has been used since the Copper Age for commercial and ornamental purposes, adorning the tombs of kings and pharaohs and being used in the creation of the first coins.
Having unique properties such as resistance to corrosion and oxidation, a softness that makes it easy to work with and a high capacity to reflect light, gold was also soon used to decorate and adorn lamps.
From gold leafing to patination to its use in purity, gold’s uses in lighting have contributed to the creation of true works of art for centuries.
Pictured is our Sharon wall lamp, with a patinated 24kt gold finish.
The Chinese empress Xi Ling Shi was out for a walk one day when she noticed a caterpillar and touched it with her fingers: a silk thread sprang up and gently twisted around her finger, forming a cocoon.
Discovered in China, it is said, in 3000 B.C. and kept secret until at least 300 B.C., silk processing spread to Europe from the 5th century A.D., thanks above all to the first trade exchanges between China and other regions.
Long and fine, soft and flexible, silk soon became one of the most valuable and sought-after materials, so much so that it gave its name to the most famous and fascinating trade route in history: the Silk Road.
The lampshades of our Sylvie table lamp are made of ivory and fuchsia embroidered silk taffeta.
The history of marble began thousands of years ago, having always fascinated people with its varied appearance and solidity.
Its ever-changing striations and its many colours that vary according to the material in the rock, as well as its extreme strength, have made it the ideal material to support the magnificent temples and public buildings of the most ancient civilisations.
It later became the material of choice for sculptors, and is now also one of the most popular materials used to decorate indoor and outdoor spaces: floors, kitchen tops, columns, cladding and, of course, lamps.
Our Capucine lamp has a sphere in Guatemala green marble.
Austrian Origin Crystals
Rhinestones are often confused with diamonds, but while diamonds are a natural element, rhinestones are created using artificial materials such as glass or crystal.
In fact, Austrian origin crystals perfectly reproduce the natural diamond, imitating its facets and brilliance. The material is clear, sparkling, capable of creating magnificent plays of light thanks to the high quality with which it is cut and processed.
Applied from the beginning to fashion products such as clothes, bags or shoes, Austrian origin crystals were soon used in various fields, including lighting.
Giulia, our pendant lamp, is embellished with chains and necklaces made of crystals.