Chandelier is the french word for candlestick, basically a candelabrum, they come from the same root word. In the middle ages chandeliers were basically a cross of wood with spikes on them so that candles could be stuck to them. They were lowered to the floor by ropes, the candles were placed and lit, then they were raised back in place. As time went on they were made of metal and became more and more elaborate. The size of some of them made our modern ones seem like mini chandeliers in comparison. The high cost made nighttime illumination a luxury item and the chandelier became a status item With the rise of the merchant class in the 18th and 19th cast chandeliers could be found with ornate curving arms cast from metal. Developments in glass making allowed for cheaper productions of lead crystal and light scattering crystals became a popular addition. With the addition of gas the chandelier came to be known gasoliers at the time. Because gas (and later electric) lights were so much brighter chandelier light shades were added to diffuse some of the harsh glare.
Types of Chandelier Shades
There are two types of chandeliers typically in use today. The first is a blown glass chandelier. It's made by blown glass craftsmen, and it usually hollow in the middle, that space is where the light is placed. If you want to change the look of it, basically all you can do is change the bulb for a higher or lower wattage. The color of the light is usually determined by the chandelier itself, if it's clear you can change the color of the bulb to change the color. The other type is what you think of when you think of a chandelier. A hanging fixture with metal arms that have a bulb on each end. If you've got this kind of chandelier in your house and you'd like to change the look your first choice is changing the whole thing. That's probably not an option so you can use a chandelier shade. Actually any shade can be used as a chandelier lampshade as long as it fits. They come in all sorts of styles and options and you can find one to fit any décor.
Beaded Chandelier Shades
Now you can't turn an ordinary chandelier into a crystal chandelier but what you can do is find some beaded chandelier shades. They come in clear beads or almost any color you want, to match your room. In addition to get that crystal look you can also find glass shades for chandeliers, again in different colors and styles. There are chandelier shades that can wrap around the whole chandelier to diffuse the light or you can find mini chandelier shades that can shade every light. They can be found in modern to historical styles to suit any taste. If you have a house in the federal style you can find them with federal motifs or pretty much any style from art deco to modern styles.
Clip on Chandelier Shades
Many of the historical styles are coming back into popularity so make sure you find a shade that fits your style. If you have a house that is in the craftsman style you might have a wooden chandelier (I guess everything old is new again) so you should find a shade that is in keeping with that style, earth tone colors and natural fabrics. If you're worried that you new shades might not fit then take a look at the chandelier clip shades. These can clip onto the bulb itself so that can fit almost any chandelier. If you've been to a store that has mix and match lamps and shades that's often how they work, in case you're having a hard time visualizing it.