Add some Diamond Jubilee sparkle to your home without the diamond price tag, with help from interior designer Jamie Hempsall.
Shops are ablaze with bling at the prospect of a Royal Diamond jubilee. Whilst Diamond detailing is probably way beyond the pocket of all, but a few mega-wealthy individuals around the world, we can ape it in our home with a delicate introduction of crystal.
Although many consider crystal to be the domain of the teenage girl’s bedroom, if used carefully it can be incorporated into homes to create a stylish touch of glamour. The key to creating the right element of chic is to opt for a hint of sparkle, perhaps in one or two key details, rather than overloading your room with glitz and shine.
Mayfair Sofa with crystal detailing for £4,675 from www.beautiful modernthing.com
The name that is most synonymous with crystal, Swarovski, has been responsible for many of the innovations that make it possible for us to use this substance throughout our home.
It seems incredible the company was founded in 1892 when Daniel Swarovski invented a machine process that allowed crystal to be cut more precisely and, therefore, to emulate diamonds more closely.
Their products have been used in manufacturing and even road safety; in the guise of reflectors. However, in 1931 Swarovski invented sew-on crystal ribbons which made the application of sparkling lovelies far easier and opened up a world of opportunity for fashion and home accessory manufacturers.
The close association with the fashion world meant in 1956 it was Swarovski, in partnership with Christian Dior, who developed the “Aurora Borealis” effect, the shimmering finish that enhances the sparkle of cut crystal. This was followed in 1976, by the introduction of the “Hot Fix” system that enabled crystals to be applied to a wide variety of materials quickly and easily.
Finally in 1993 crystal mesh was invented, a closely woven mesh of sparkling crystals that is used today by a whole host of design houses, including D&G, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
And so the love affair continues….
The use of contemporary Crystal in interiors has grown immensely over the last five years with its introduction in all manner of products. If you are looking to tip your toe into the water, then curtain detailing and tie-backs can be a good starting point to lift your room.
Door handles are another good way to add sparkle. Replacing brass knobs with their crystal cousins can add a hint of understated luxury in period properties, whilst many modern ranges now feature crystal to add Hollywood Glamour to bedroom furniture.
Crystal detailing on wardrobes adds a touch of Hollywood glamour
The development of crystal buttons (which look like small diamonds) has been a boon for the upholstery industry. They can look stunning when incorporated in deep button finishes. Alternatively, handfuls of crystal buttons or table gems strewn across a formally set table top help to add the perfect lift for a special occasion dinner.
Silver Diamante Table Gems £8.99/100g www.confetti.co.uk
Pure crystal has a beautiful clarity to it that sets it apart from glass. Therefore, it should be the natural choice if you are looking for a special centre or accent piece. Many companies now produce simply shaped crystal lamps that are both glamorous and classic – an investment that should not go out of fashion.
You can always splash out on a crystal chandelier if you want to make a major lighting statement (and have the headroom). There really is nothing that compares to their flattering reflective light. With a little searching you can usually find some great value antique bargains these days – which look wonderful in any style of interior (a juxtaposition of ancient and modern is definitely on-trend).
Sometimes though more is more and if you really want to make a statement – make it big. The Swarovski Crystal Petit Bateau is a limited edition cast iron bath with over 8,000 hand applied Swarovski Crystals (it does have a smooth enamel interior for comfort). If you have a spare £130,000 then simply head over to Catchpole & Rye (www.crye.co.uk – 020 7584 1744).
Swarovski Crystal Petit Bateau from Catchpole and Rye
All That Glitters…
All crystal is glass, but not all glass is crystal. So what is the magic ingredient that makes all the difference?
Glass is made from sand, soda ash and limestone, which are melted together at over 2900 Degrees Fahrenheit.
To be classified as “full lead crystal”, according to the European legal definition, glass must contain at least 24 percent lead oxide, which ensures the optimum weight, hardness and colour.
The addition of the lead oxide makes crystal softer than glass and allows manufacturers to cut and bevel lead crystal with brilliant edges.
Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is a multi-award winning interior designer.