An important message from the Brass Light Gallery family. SAFETY POLICY

Choosing Genuine Alabaster Lighting for Your Home

Decorating and illuminating with genuine alabaster
Tags: Alabaster

Genuine alabaster lighting is an exquisite choice to show taste and refinement in your home. This beautiful, translucent rock imparts a unique and soft glow that cannot be replicated by anything else. Alabaster lights are available in traditional, ornate styles or in minimalist, modern styles. Regardless of the style you choose, adding alabaster light fixtures to your home will contribute to a luxurious aesthetic.

What is Alabaster?

Alabaster is a crystalline form of gypsum. In rock form, alabaster is soft and looks like polished marble or onyx. These rocks are light in color with taupe, brown, or beige veining and inclusions. Through-out the rocks are scattered patches of translucent areas. It is these translucent areas that are coveted for elegant, unique lighting fixtures. Alabaster comes in three different forms: one that is opaque and chalky that can be ground up and used in gypsum plaster, another partially transparent kind called scaglione, and the translucent variety that is used in light fixtures and shades today. 

A Brief History of Alabaster

Alabaster is soft and easy to work with, making it a natural choice for artists to work with over the centuries. A favorite of sculptors, alabaster’s translucent quality brings a life-like quality to their creations.

In medieval times, alabaster was used to display wealth and good taste in items like dolls, chess pieces, jewelry, letter openers and bookends. It was also used to make religious articles and statues. Large pieces of alabaster were used within the architecture of the time in the form of decorative stones or railings.

Today, Brass Light Gallery incorporates genuine alabaster into our own works of functional art. The result is sophisticated lighting that envelopes rooms in a warm, luxurious ambiance.

How are Alabaster Light Fixtures Made?

Blocks of alabaster are sold to alabaster workshops in the form of huge rocks that can weigh from 30 to more than 2000 pounds. Only the translucent areas can be used for making lighting, so much of the rock has to be carved away. Brass Light Gallery’s alabaster is quarried in Spain and carefully hand carved to reveal the stone’s natural variation of opacity and veining—qualities and characteristics you can’t replicate in glass or plastic imitation alabaster.

Once the translucent rock is isolated, alabaster can be shaped by carving or by using a lathe.  After it is shaped, the piece is sanded with several grades of sandpaper and finished with steel wool to give it a perfectly smooth surface. Sometimes stain is applied to carvings in the alabaster or to shade the entire piece. A coat of polyurethane is added to protect the final product.

For more complex pieces, like chandeliers, large rocks need to be cut into many smaller pieces and then shaped. There is great variation in color even throughout a single mass of stone, so craftsmen carefully choose which pieces match best. Because no two pieces are alike, each alabaster creation is completely unique.

Why Choose Alabaster for Your Home?

Alabaster is translucent, but not transparent. This quality allows it to provide ample light to a room while hiding unsightly bulbs and other electrical components. Your alabaster lights will look like they glow all on their own!

As mentioned above, alabaster is remarkably varied. Every fixture made with it is one of a kind. The lighting in your home will not look like anyone else’s, giving you a style that is exclusively your own.

Light fixtures made from alabaster make beautiful statements of elegance. They not only impart a warm, golden glow to the rooms they light, but are pieces of art in and of themselves. When lit from within, the natural veins and variations in the stone are enhanced, creating a beautiful feature and conversation piece in your home.

Is the Cost of Genuine Alabaster Lights Worth It?

Alabaster light fixtures can be expensive due to the process through which they are made and cost of sourcing the materials to make them. Increasingly, there are different types of faux alabaster on the market; however, none of those materials can duplicate the real thing. Only real alabaster will give you completely unique and irreplaceable lighting that will stand the test of time. Just like you can tell imitation crystal or diamond from the genuine material, people with a discerning eye will recognize faux alabaster when they see it. 

Keep in mind that each article of alabaster is a piece of art. Buying faux alabaster is like buying a print of an original painting. It may cost less money, but it doesn’t have the same appeal, intrinsic value, or craftsmanship as the work of art itself. The distinction of owning authentic alabaster is worth the cost.

How Can Someone Tell the Difference Between Real and Fake Alabaster?

To distinguish between real and fake alabaster, you need to consider three things: thickness, veining, and weight. Real alabaster is unique in that even at relatively large thicknesses light will still shine through it. If a fixture is truly alabaster, it will be at least ⅜ inch thick. Imitation alabaster is considerably lighter weight than the real thing; weighing as little as ½ of what actual alabaster would. Finally, alabaster will have random veining and natural color variations throughout. If you can detect a pattern to the veining of a piece or if the coloration is too consistent, it may be an imitation. 

Caring for Genuine Alabaster

Alabaster is soft enough to carve with ease and has thin areas that are especially brittle, so you need to use special care when cleaning it.

Remove dust with an artist’s brush instead of with a cloth. A cloth will rub dirt deeper into the stone and create static electricity that can attract even more dust. An artist's brush will remove surface dirt without issue.

You can use cleaning compounds on alabaster; however, you should always use the least amount possible. Avoid water and use solvents, like acetone, instead. Test any cleaning compound in an inconspicuous area before using it on the entire fixture. When removing the solvent, use a clean cloth and apply very little pressure. Always rub in the same direction as the grain of the stone.

Final thoughts

Genuine alabaster lighting is a luxurious addition to your home. It requires special care and consideration, but it is worth it for the value it adds. If you appreciate natural beauty and artful craftsmanship, adding alabaster light fixtures to your home will bring you joy and delight.


Ask the experts
Decorating and illuminating with genuine alabaster lighting is among the best ways to elevate your home. We hope you have a new appreciation for alabaster in general, but also for our passion for creating exquisite alabaster fixtures that meet our higher standards.

If you have questions or want to learn more about choosing outdoor lighting for  your home, our experienced sales team and artisan designers are available to help. Contact us and let us help you order the perfect fixtures for all of your exterior lighting needs.

Jun 30, 2021

Amy Joslin

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
I have an older fixture no longer produced by Brass Light Gallery. Angie and the team were extremely helpful in identifying and producing the replacement (lost) parts to get my fixture up and functioning again. They did this all remotely and shipped the parts promptly. Highly recommend!
May 14, 2021

Will Heelan

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
Brass Light Gallery is such an amazing resource: they can build your lighting dream. Angela in the sales room was just the best: listened carefully to what we were trying to accomplish and guided us through the process. She was a delight to work with and she persisted until she found EXACTLY what we were looking for: three sconces to match my Brass Light Gallery pendants from 20 years ago! We are so pleased!
Mar 17, 2021

Cathy Lindberg

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
I loved Janel who assisted me. She was professional and friendly and super competent. Love my fixture! Perfect....and Made in the USA!
Feb 22, 2021

Trevor Santarius

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
Always a fantastic experience with Brass Light Gallery. Their customer service goes above and beyond and their products are of the highest quality. It is great to support true artisans that create timeless and beautiful light fixtures that are made to last multiple generations. While certainly on the high end price-wise, their fixtures are well worth the investment.
Jan 22, 2021


Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
AMAZING!!! Breathtaking! Simply beautiful!! We are beyond impressed with the quality of these lovely fixtures and beyond impressed with the sales help from Janel. Janel was outstanding to work with! She took the time to understand that we wanted to modernize our 25 year old home with updated lighting. She asked about style, dimensions, pictures and layout information and helped us pick out coordinated fixtures for all rooms. Honest, very helpful but no pressure felt. We ordered 14 beautifully modern fixtures for the main level of our home. We live in MN and the lights came very well packaged and cared for. Our local electrician found installation easy and intuitive and commented many times on how high quality these fixtures were. "very well made, very very nice"!!! Am already planning the next lights we would like to update. We will definitely be ordering from brass light gallery again. HIGHLY recommend using this amazing company! Thank you Janel!!
Javascript is required for full website functionality.