I know -- it's very tempting. Go on discount furniture sites such as Wayfair or Rakuten or even Target and you may see stuff you like. Well designed, cute lighting that might look good in your space. And the price will be a fraction of the cost that it would cost you if you sought out the original designer of that light. Even people of considerable means will think twice about paying for a designer-made fixture when a similar looking one is available at a much lower cost. And certainly there is not much difference between original and knock-off in terms of the function of the object: Both of them will light your space just fine.
But before hitting the buy now button for the cheaper option, I'd like persuade you that buying the more expensive chandelier, pendant, sconce, or lamp is absolutely worth the cost. Here's why:
That Cheap Chandelier is Cheap Only Because It is Made in China by the Thousands
There is an area of southern China -- the Guangdong province right near the border with Hong Kong -- that makes most of the lighting in the world. The economies of scale involved in this mass production allows for great savings. The only way you can buy a light fixture for under $100 is for it to be one of countless thousands made in Chinese factories and shipped to the west by shipping container.
You Want Something Different
In the world of fine art, collectors look for the unusual, unique thing. If everyone has something, that something loses value. When you pay more money for lighting, you get more assurance that what you are getting comes from artisan studios who are not kicking out the same design by the millions. And because it is not ubiquitous, your chandelier will retain its ability to delight and surprise.
Materials are important
There is all the difference in the world between cheap crystal and good crystal. Most inexpensive chandeliers don't even have crystal. They are made with K9 Optical glass. It looks OK, but is WAY less interesting than proper crystal (we have a separate blog post on chandelier quality, which I suggest you check out). A good chandelier is heavy -- made of metal, not plastic or mylar -- and crystal, not glass or -- heaven forfend! -- plastic.
Lighting is Art
If you look at lighting as a functional object -- a thing that does a job like a car tire or a wrench, then there is no reason to pay a lot for a light fixture. But if you've read this blog post up until this point, you probably don't think that way -- nor should you. You think of lighting as a form of artistic expression as well as a functional object.
Good lighting is complex. It is about something. The eye lingers on your decorative lighting in a way it doesn't for other objects in your home. If you are going to spend money on a signature item, consider spending it on the lighting, and save elsewhere.
Art is also about scarcity. A mass produced lithograph loses some of its exquisiteness compared to a numbered lithograph. Art is about the hand of the artist, and mass production is antithetical to
Lighting is the Jewelry of Your Home
Lighting is the first thing people notice in your home -- before the furniture or paintings or rugs or finishes. Humans are naturally drawn to light.
And We are especially attracted to sparkle. There is an evolutionary explanation for this: Our eyes evolved to seek out a sparkle on the distant horizon because a sparkle indicated flowing water. And flowing water is more likely than standing water to be potable. We associate sparkle with life. It's why crystal chandeliers retain a unique innate appeal.
It's a Small Price To Pay
Think how much your home costs. Think of the time and effort involved in creating your interior space. Because lighting is the
What's a couple hundred or even a couple of thousand bucks compared to that investment. You can afford good lighting. And you deserve it.