Gems in the Early Modern World

Materials, Knowledge and Global Trade, 1450–1800

  • Michael Bycroft
  • Sven Dupré

Part of the Europe's Asian Centuries book series (EAC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Michael Bycroft, Sven Dupré
    Pages 1-32
  3. Motion

  4. Value

  5. Skills

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 343-359

About this book


This edited collection is an interdisciplinary study of gems in the early modern world. It examines the relations between the art, science, and technology of gems, and it does so against the backdrop of an expanding global trade in gems. The eleven chapters are organised into three parts. The first part sets the scene by describing how gems moved around the early modern world, how they were set in motion, and how they were pulled together in the course of their travels. The second part is about value. It asks why people valued gems, how they determined the value of a given gem, and how the value of a gem was connected to its perceived place of origin. The third part deals with the skills involved in cutting, polishing, and mounting gems, and how these skills were transmitted and articulated by artisans. The common themes of all these chapters are materials, knowledge and global trade. The contributors to this volume focus on the material properties of gems such as their weight and hardness, on the knowledge involved in exchanging them and valuing them, and on the cultural consequences of the expanding trade in gems in Eurasia and the Americas.


Gemstone Commerce Trade Transnational Industry Artisan Knowledge transfer History of science History of medicine Material culture Consumption Technology New World South East Asia India Europe

Editors and affiliations

  • Michael Bycroft
    • 1
  • Sven Dupré
    • 2
  1. 1.History DepartmentUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.History of Art, Science and TechnologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-96378-5
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-96379-2
  • Buy this book on publisher's site