Gems Through the Ages

  • Stefanos Karampelas
  • Lore Kiefert
  • Danilo Bersani
  • Peter Vandenabeele
Part of the Short Introductions to Cultural Heritage Science book series (SICHS)


Since thousands of years, gems were used as tools and amulets often associated with social status and money. At the beginning, gems were used in their rough form, or polished with curved surfaces or engraved. Simple forms of faceting appeared around the start of thirteenth century and it radically improved after the industrial revolution. During different periods in time, different cultures were considering different materials as gems. A problem that researchers frequently face whilst studying gems of archaeological importance is the nomenclature used in the old text and the current gemmological literature (e.g., peridot can be found in old texts are chrysolite or topazios). Pearl, diamond, “jade”, corundum (principally ruby and sapphire), beryl (mainly emerald), garnet, spinel, different forms of silica (e.g., amethyst, chalcedony, opal), lapis lazuli, turquoise, amber, coral, ivory as well as tourmaline, peridot, topaz, chrysoberyl and zircon are the main gems appreciated during the past till nowadays.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefanos Karampelas
    • 1
  • Lore Kiefert
    • 2
  • Danilo Bersani
    • 3
  • Peter Vandenabeele
    • 4
  1. 1.Bahrain Institute for Pearls & Gemstones (DANAT)ManamaBahrain
  2. 2.Gubelin Gem LabLucerneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Mathematical, Physical and Computer SciencesUniversity of ParmaParmaItaly
  4. 4.Department of ArchaeologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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