According to Jutta-Arnette Page, curator of the European Collection at the Corning Museum of Glass at New York, crystal chandeliers have been around since the creation of lead-based glass in the seventeenth century. Identifying the age, style and manufacturer can be a trying process, but well worth the effort, since your old crystal chandelier could be worth anywhere between $200 and $30,000.
Discover who made your crystal chandelier. Examine your crystal chandelier for maker marks, also known as hallmarks. Even the earliest makers of crystal chandeliers wanted to be sure that their work would be identifiable. If you are able to find the mark, take a photo of it and go to the library. There are reference books full of different markings that you can search through until you find the maker of your chandelier.
Examine your chandelier. Antique crystal chandeliers have bases and arms that are made of crystal, bronze, antlers and brass. Any material that is plated is not antique. Electric chandeliers with crystal embellishments are modern re-makes. Antique chandeliers were made to be used with wood, candles or oil, but not with light bulbs.
Consider how you obtained your crystal chandelier. If it were passed down through the family, you might be able to find photographs that will date your chandelier. If you bought it at an antique store, you will need to have it appraised. Replicas are common and difficult to distinguish (see Resources). If you bought your chandelier at auction, it should have come with a certificate of authenticity.