Alice Hicklin tweeting as @AngloSaxonist is one of my favorite medieval tweeters. She sends out terrific images of mostly Early Medieval artifacts, and if you have any interest in the material culture of this period or just like pretty things, I definitely recommend you follow her!
This one came across today:
The ‘Stefansbursa’, a reliquary from early 9th c. kept at Aachen. Front covered in gemstones, sides feat. figures & phrase ‘MALIS VINDICTA’ pic.twitter.com/tBTFA4cFYT
— Alice Hicklin (@AngloSaxonist) November 2, 2016
Here’s the point I want to make.
It’s November so everybody and their brother who thinks they can write a historical fiction or fantasy novel is toying with the idea of doing so. Please, learn an important lesson from this beautiful reliquary. While gemstones could be polished, cutting and faceting is a relatively late technology. Some crystals do appear in natural shapes that look like or suggest faceting, but the actual cutting of gems didn’t happen until the late medieval period and the Renaissance.
Pretty sparkly gems in your story are fine, but if the technology level is Early Medieval, gems would be in the cabochon style seen here, not faceted cuts!
I’ll save my rant on the ridiculous paucity of bucklers in historical fiction and fantasy (as in the end of this post) for another day…