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Journal Articles Gems & Gemology : the quarterly journal of the Gemological Institute of America Year : 2019

The Talisman of Charlemagne: New Historical and Gemological Discoveries

Abstract

The gem-bearing reliquary known as the Talisman of Charlemagne is closely associated with the history of Europe.Its legend follows such figures as Charlemagne, Napoleon I, Empress Josephine, Hortense de Beauharnais, NapoleonIII, and Empress Eugénie. This study provides new historical information collected in France, Germany, and Switzerlandabout the provenance of this exceptional jewel, which contains a large glass cabochon on the front, a largeblue-gray sapphire on the back, and an assortment of colored stones and pearls. The first scientific gemologicalanalysis of this historical piece, carried out on-site at the Palace of Tau Museum in Reims, France, has made it possibleto identify the colored stones and offer insight into their possible geographic origins. Based on our data and comparisonwith similar objects of the Carolingian period, we propose that the blue-gray sapphire is of Ceylonese (SriLankan) origin, that the garnets originate from India or Ceylon, and that most of the emeralds are from Egypt exceptfor one from the Habachtal deposit of Austria. The estimated weight of the center sapphire is approximately 190 ct,making it one of the largest known sapphires as of the early seventeenth century.
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Dates and versions

hal-02735804 , version 1 (02-06-2020)

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Gérard Panczer, Geoffray Riondet, Lauriane Forest, Michael Krzemnicki, Davy Carole, et al.. The Talisman of Charlemagne: New Historical and Gemological Discoveries. Gems & Gemology : the quarterly journal of the Gemological Institute of America, 2019, 55 (1), pp.30-46. ⟨10.5741/GEMS.55.1.30⟩. ⟨hal-02735804⟩
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