Blown Glass Size, Shape, and Production Differences
In an ever-expanding global market, consumers have many choices when it comes to the source of their products. Naturally, we’re all hoping to find the most bang for our buck. What happens, however, when cheap, poorly constructed copies enter the marketplace and skew a consumer’s evaluation of their choice of products? Our recent experience highlights the product variation and risks involved with purchasing imitation chandeliers and lighting art from China. Part One of this article will cover the differences in Size, Shape, and Production of our artisan lighting products versus imitation models. Recently, we became aware that several Chinese companies have been illegally taking proprietary images from our websites (images of original art pieces which are owned by American glass artists and our company) to purportedly sell the same glass lighting art made in China at a fraction of the cost. After contacting the websites to request immediate removal of the stolen images, we became curious about the class of products coming out of China. Intending to have what’s pictured online, what exactly are their customers receiving? To find out, we ordered two Chinese-made imitation chandeliers to compare to our own high-quality product. As you’ll see below, the differences are vast.
Images of original lighting artwork designed and made by a prominent American glass artist. These exact images were used by a Chinese company to sell imitation chandeliers.
The most noticeable difference between the American and Chinese product is the overall size of the individual pieces. Copying from a photo, the Chinese producers could not have known the actual size of the individual pieces of the original chandelier. The differences are staggering: the American-made pieces are 3 1/2” to 6 1/2” longer than the Chinese copies, and typically double the diameter! Not only are the Chinese pieces smaller, their sizes also inconsistent relative to our products.
Why does this matter? When the various pieces are assembled, the aggregation of those size differentials will make a large impact on the overall look of the finished chandelier. The resulting piece would likely have an inconsistent, uneven shape. These chandeliers are constructed by stacking multiple pieces onto a frame, so if the glass is inconsistent in size, the imitation chandeliers will look like a child who tried to cut their own hair: ragged and unprofessional and lacking any artistic design.
Using these smaller, inconsistent pieces, this Chinese company’s product simply would not have been able to achieve the overall size or resemblance of our original. Even if a much larger frame (or armature) had been used to attempt to replicate the size, the gaps between their small glass pieces would result in “light holes” in the final chandelier.
The shape of individual glass pieces in the copies are also significantly different than the original artist’s pieces. Our artisans create specific shapes for the intended final creation, and without that skill and planning, the look of the original chandelier cannot be achieved.
Using the examples shown in the image below, notice how the original artist’s pieces have a relaxed, elegant and beautifully tapered curve. This allows them to project at the proper angle for the original artist’s vision. The Chinese pieces, however, have a much curvier look which will result in more gaps between neighboring pieces and will also project at a lower, downward angle. With these variations, it would be impossible for the copied chandelier to resemble the original vision. If you purchase Chinese imitation chandeliers, you simply will not receive what you’re expecting.
Another major difference is the finishing technique for the tops of each piece. In the image below, take note of the American-made piece with a completely closed and finished loop. This allows for proper support of the attaching hook and weight of the piece and very importantly keeps the interior of the piece sealed from anything getting inside.
The Chinese version has an open end, into which dust and insects will fall inside and accumulate. In no time, this will result in darkening and significantly reduced luminosity of the light as it transfers through the dirty, littered glass. The only way to clean the pieces would be to disassemble the chandelier and attempt to get inside of those curvy shapes to properly clean them. Already laborious and difficult, repeated cleaning presents an added risk of breakage during the process.
Additionally, most of the Chinese imitation chandeliers’ pieces we have received do not even have pre-made loopholes or proper installation elements. Their manufacturer failed to supply any installation instruction or to illustrate how the pieces were to be attached to the internal framework, or armature. It would be like selling you a boat without the oars. We think it is unacceptable to expect a customer to figure out how to make the hole and find an attachment to the armature.
Even if you had the means to attempt to drill a hole in an imitation glass piece, it is very probable that the added heat on the otherwise cool glass will result in stress fractures. These tiny cracks, often so small they cannot be seen, will break unexpectedly in time – or worse, break the glass immediately while drilling. As glass pieces react to the ambient temperature in the room, they naturally expand and contract. With a stress fracture, even a slight temperature change could cause the piece to break. This is a common problem with imitation pieces that are not finished or annealed properly, as is the case with the Chinese copies.
Blown Glass Type, Color Density, and Luminosity Differences
After having discovered proprietary images of one of our talented artisan’s works being used to misrepresent a Chinese manufacturer’s cheaper, imitation chandeliers, we decided to dig deeper into the risks of purchasing from a questionable e-retailer. In Part 1 of this series, we covered Size, Shape, and Production Differences in the American-made versus Chinese-manufactured products. Now in Part 2, we’ll highlight the differences in our original, artisan-made versus imitation glass chandeliers with regard to their Glass Type, Color Density, and Luminosity.
Spruce Pine or Spectrum glass, which is manufactured in the US and is the chemical makeup of soft glass used in US glass blowing studios, is expensive. It is the best recipe for quality glass, and repeatedly produces pieces of beauty and longevity, as it has for hundreds of years. Chinese manufacturers do not use the same chemical make-up to create glass. If you do not use the proper calculation and quality of ingredients in your glass batch, the glass will combust over time –especially if a proper annealing method is also forgone.
We cannot guarantee how the Chinese are formulating their raw glass or the quality of their annealing process. Therefore, purchasing Chinese imitation chandeliers presents an immense risk. Placing something as volatile as shard glass hanging in a location above your head could cause irrefutable harm or death to whoever is below the chandelier when it shatters.
Color Density and Luminosity
Comparing our artisan-made, original chandelier pieces, and the Chinese imitations, you’ll notice that the color luminosity and density are significantly different between the two. The originals are bright and rich in color, whereas the copies have a thinner color composition and appear washed out when lit.
Compare the glass pieces in the image below, and you’ll notice the original pieces have optics (texture and ribbing) on the outside of the pieces that provide unique and beautiful luminosity. Light bounces off the multi-dimensional curves and texture on the outer surface of the glass, which creates the desired, sparkling effect. If you look closely at the Chinese imitation chandeliers’ pieces, you’ll see their texture and ribbing is on the inside surface of the glass, which is much less effective in terms of luminosity.
Customer Service Differences
As we’ve discussed in our previous posts, we’ve recently found out that cheap, poorly constructed imitation chandeliers are being mass-produced in China copying our artisan lighting art pieces, potentially skewing a consumer’s choice of products. In an attempt to help our customers, we believe it is important to offer a side-by-side comparison of quality versus imitation chandeliers. Let our experience help you understand the variation and risks involved with purchasing “knock-offs” from Chinese manufacturers.
This series of articles have already covered differences in Part One: Shape, Size, and Production, as well as in Part Two: Glass Type, Density, and Luminosity. Now, we’ll let you in on the scoop about quality customer service.
As an online consumer, you simply can’t put a price on good customer service and support, both before and after your purchase. What recourse do you have if the product you receive is completely different than what you expected?
Anytime you shop online, the specific products you see in a catalog may not necessarily be the perfect item for you, and having the option of customization could be required for your particular design or layout. We understand that the purchase of a chandelier is a big event in your home! Every decision, from the colors, size, hanging height, hanging hardware, shape, and bulb style, are critical to your happiness with the product. Our lighting specialists are available to help guide you through all the steps to customize the perfect chandelier for your project and to make sure you have all the information needed to prepare for installation.
Additionally, you can count on our full support after your purchase. If you need assistance during assembly and installation, have questions regarding care and maintenance, or ever need replacement parts, our customers can count on us to be available to help. It’s unlikely that you will get the same great customer service experience with an overseas manufacturer selling imitation chandeliers.
Although it’s never fun to discover that your unique artisan crafts and designs are being pilfered, we are certainly glad we’ve now had the opportunity to present and compare these items for you, side-by-side. Online consumers have an enormous selection of products to sort through, and always deserve to know the real story behind the goods they purchase. Now that you’re tooled with the information to make an informed decision, enjoy browsing our gallery of gorgeous artisan glass chandeliers and lighting art. We hope you’ll contact us with any questions about your future artisan lighting desires!