The book of hours examined for this study is an illuminated Renaissance masterpiece: a small prayer book bound in enamelled gold and gemstones that was bought in 1538 by King Francis I of France as a probable gift for his niece. In 2018, it was acquired by the Louvre Museum (Paris, France) from S. J. Phillips Ltd in London, and its nearly complete history is documented here.
A first gemmological ... [Show full abstract] analysis of the stones adorning the book was conducted on site at the Louvre in 2020. The gems consist of carnelian (two intaglios and eight cameos), rubies (27 polished pieces),
turquoise (24 cabochons) and rhodolite (one faceted stone in the book’s clasp that has been described as tourmaline since 1942). We suggest that most of the rubies were mined from the Mogok area of
Burma (now Myanmar). Based on historical considerations, the turquoise could have originated from Persia or possibly Uzbekistan, and the carnelian from either India or Saxony. The faceted rhodolite
could have originated from India or Sri Lanka, and was most likely added to the clasp in more recent times, possibly between 1842 and 1884.