Buying Q&A: Crystal Chandelier

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The Nest Q&A

What do I need to know before buying a crystal chandelier?

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Before getting mesmerized at the chandelier shop and losing all sense of size and practicality, measure the area where you’re planning to place the chandelier. “Ideally, you want it to be placed in the center of the room or area you’re using,” says Nadav Paskal, president of Expert Lighting in New York City, which installs and cleans chandeliers in high-end hotels and private residences. In a dining room, “you want 36 inches between the table and the bottom crystal of the chandelier,” explains Paskal. If that leaves you with, say 30 inches, between that point and the ceiling, your maximum chandelier size is about 28 inches high, to account for the canopy hook and at least one link of chain it will hang on. “In a hallway, you want at least seven feet from the floor to the base of the chandelier, in case a tall person is walking through.” In a foyer, place it as squarely in the center as you can, instead of trying to place it in the center of a particular doorway or window. “The chandelier is for you, not your neighbor,” says Paskal. As for the quality of the crystals, you pay for what you get. Great quality crystals -- they will look clear and reflect colors, not just white -- like Waterford and Baccarat will cost much more, compared to low quality Chinese crystal, says Paskal. Next, choose one with a good frame. “Whether there’s crystal on it or not, the frame alone should look nice,” says Paskal, “so just imagine it on its own.” Inside your house, you can wire a small chandelier yourself, but make sure the size of the chandelier base will fit the hole in your ceiling; otherwise, call an electrician or contractor to install it for you. Finally, clean your chandelier once a year. “When you buy a Porsche, you keep the car clean or it will look like a Hyundai, right?” says Paskal. Professional cleaners like his use a special salt solution and hot water, and remove the crystals one by one. Whether you do this or not, “Don’t use Windex or chemical sprays,” says Paskal. “It’s fine for the crystals, but the alcohol in it will gore into the gold or silver pins holding the crystals on, and turn them black.”

-- Amy Spencer

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