The Colored Chemistry


  • David Ajò 1SMATCH Italia, Rome, Italy - Fondazione di Storia ONLUS, Vicenza, Italy
  • Giuseppe Elettivo Sole proprietorship GE Stones, Rose (CS), Italy
  • Federica Fenzi Accademia di Belle Arti, Verona, Italy
  • Stella Nunziante Cesaro SMATCH Italia, Rome, Italy - ISMN-CNR, c/o Dip.Chimica, Università “Sapienza”, Rome, Italy
  • Sabrina Tegani SMATCH Italia, Rome, Italy - Sole proprietorship Rialto, Fonte (TV), Italy



Chemistry, Restoration, Gemology, Colored metals, Synthetic materials, Treated materials, Effective Microorganisms


We discuss here materials used in the fabrication of works of art and handicrafts, among them pigments and dyes, gemstones and jewels. Attention is paid to their natural or synthetic origin and possible treatments. Methods of characterization are important not only for historical and restoration purposes and the reproduction of ancient processes, but also for the purposes of new productions. In particular, in the fields of the Effective Microorganisms and metal surfaces coloration, some goals have been reached in this direction due to convergence of different education and research experience of the authors.

Author Biographies

  • David Ajò, 1SMATCH Italia, Rome, Italy - Fondazione di Storia ONLUS, Vicenza, Italy

    David Ajò - Graduated in Chemistry (University of Rome) and Graduate Gemologist (Gemological Institute of America), worked on synthesis and spectroscopic investigations of materials used in works of art and handicraft, as Research Director of CNR (National Research Council, Padua). Fellow of “Fondazione di Storia” ONLUS (Vicenza). Contract professor at the Università Cattolica del S. Cuore, seat of Brescia, 2002- 2011.

  • Giuseppe Elettivo, Sole proprietorship GE Stones, Rose (CS), Italy

    Giuseppe Elettivo - Graduated in Geology at the University of Calabria (Arcavacata di Rende, CS), specialized in the mineral-petrographic field. Independent gemologist, collaborated with ICIS of CNR (Padua) within a project of the Province of Padua, and taught in the gemology school IRIGEM (Rosà, VI). Expert in estimate and evaluation in jewelry and in the use of precious and non-precious metals.

  • Federica Fenzi, Accademia di Belle Arti, Verona, Italy

    Federica Fenzi - Graduated in Chemistry (University of Padua) she carried out research at CNR (Padua, 2001- 2014), with archaeometric studies on glass, ceramics, bronze, pigments, hydraulic binders, and developing syntheses of eco-sustainable materials for industry and restoration. Since 2013 contract professor of chemistry at the Academy of Fine Arts (Verona) and Santa Paola Institute (Mantua).

  • Stella Nunziante Cesaro, SMATCH Italia, Rome, Italy - ISMN-CNR, c/o Dip.Chimica, Università “Sapienza”, Rome, Italy

    Stella Nunziante Cesaro - Graduated in Physics and Chemistry (University of Rome), worked on high temperature systems at the research center ISMN of CNR in Rome. President of the Cultural Association “Scientific Methods Applied to Cultural Heritage” (SMATCH), Rome. Collaborates with the Department of Classics at ‘Sapienza’ (University of Rome).

  • Sabrina Tegani, SMATCH Italia, Rome, Italy - Sole proprietorship Rialto, Fonte (TV), Italy

    Sabrina Tegani - Graduate Gemologist (Gemological Institute of America), she learned gemstones cutting at IRIGEM (Rosà, VI), She worked in the Gemological Education Certification Institute (Milan) as analyst gemologist and gemology educator. Activity in antique and modern jewelry, among the others as rough diamonds analyst and consultant, recently started her business with her sole proprietorship "Rialto".


Adamo, I., Pavese, A., Prosperi, L., Diella, V., Merlini, M., Gemmi, M. and Ajò, D. (2005) “Characterization of the new Malossi hydrothermal synthetic emerald”, Gems & Gemology, 41(4), pp. 328-339.

Ajò, D., De Zuane, F., Caramazza, G., Gambaro, M., Guadagnino, E., Morucchio, M., Polato, P. and Rizzo, G. (1999) "Spectroscopic techniques for the determination of the iron redox state of glass and their direct application in the glass factory", Glass Technology, 40(4), pp. 116- 120.

Ajò, D., Favaro, M. L., Reyes-Valerio, C., Chiari, G. and Giustetto, R. (2000) "Characterization of Maya blue by photoluminescence spectroscopy". XXXII Internatonal Symposium on Archaeometry (México City). Proceedings (British Archaeological Reports). CD-Rom.

Ajò, D., Chiari, G., De Zuane, F., Favaro, M. L. and Bertolin, M. (1996) "Photoluminescence of some blue natural pigments and related synthetic materials". Proceedings of the V International Conference on non- destructive testing, microanalytical methods and environmental evaluation for study and conservation of works of art (Budapest). pp. 33- 47.

Aula, F., Ajò, D., Chiari, G., Colucci, G., Compagnoni, R., Davit, P. and Mirti, P. (1997) "Studi analitici sui materiali del Jubé" in "S. Maria di Vezzolano-Il Pontile: Ricerche e Restauro" (Sopraintendenza Beni Architettonici e Ambientali Piemonte, Fond. Cassa Risp. Asti, Soc. Ed. U. Allemandi & C.), pp. 104-107.

Bedini, A., Ehrman, S., Nunziante Cesaro, S., Pasini, M., Rapinesi, A. and Sali, D. (2012) “The Vallerano diamond from ancient Rome: a scientific study”, Gems & Gemology, 48(1), pp. 39-41.

Berke, H. (2007) “The invention of blue and purple pigments in ancient times”, Chemical Society Reviews, 36(1), pp. 15-30.

Bonifazi, G., Capobianco, G., Paladini, A., Prestileo, F., Serranti, S., Toschi, F. and Trojsi, G. (2017) ”Caratterizzazione degli intonaci dipinti. La caratterizzazione delle superfici dipinte”, in Pensabene P. and Sfameni C. (eds), La Villa Romana di Cottanello. Ricerche 2010-2016. Bari: Edipuglia, pp. 209-222.

Plesters, J. (1966) “Ultramarine blu, artificial”, Studies in conservation, 11(2), pp.76-91.

Plinii Secundi, C. (1873) “Naturalis Historia”, Volume V, Libro XXXII, p. 68. Berolini apud Weidmannos.

Pozza, G., Ajò, D., Chiari, G., De Zuane, F. and Favaro, M. L. (2000) "Photoluminescence of the inorganic pigments egyptian blue, Han blue and Han purple", Journal of Cultural Heritage, 1(4), pp. 393-398.

Reiche, I. Vignaud, C. and Menu, M. (2000) “Heat induced transformation of fossil mastodon ivory into turquoise ‘odontolite’. Structural and elemental characterisation”. Solid State Sciencies, 2(6), pp. 625-636.

Reyes-Valerio C. (1993) “De Bonampak al Templo Mayor - El azul Maya en Mesoamérica”. Colección América Nuestra, Vol. 40, América antigua. México: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.

Riederer J. (1997) “Egyptian blue”, in West FitzHugh E., (ed.), “Artists’ pigments. A handbook of their history and characteristics” (a National Gallery of Art U.S.A. publication), Vol.III, pp. 23-46.

Sánchez del Río, M., Domenéch, A. M., Doménech-Carbo, M. T., Vázques de Agredos Pascual, M. L., Suárez, M. and García-Romero, E. (2011) “The Maya blue pigment”, in Galan, E. and Singer, A. (eds) Development in palygorskite-sepiolite research – A new outlook on these nanomaterials, Chapter 18, pp. 453-481. Elsevier.

Shaw, P. (1738) “The Philosophical Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle”, Vol.III, p.105. London: Printed for W. Innys and R. Manby, and T. Longman.

Chiari, G., Ajò, D., Reyes-Valerio, C. and De

“Application of photoluminescence spectroscopy

investigation of materials used in works of art”, in Proceedings of the 6th Internat. Conference on non destructive testing and microanalysis for the diagnostics and conservation of the Cultural and Environmental Heritage (Rome, 1999), AIPnD and Istituto Centrale del Restauro. Rome: Euroma, Vol I, pp. 1717-1726.

Colosi F. and Prestileo F. (2017) “Censimento speditivo e analisi del degrado dei dipinti murali”, in Pensabene, P. and Sfameni, C. (eds), La Villa Romana di Cottanello. Ricerche 2010-201. Bari: Edipuglia pp. 187- 192.

Dyer, J. and Sotiropoulou, S. (2017) “A technical step forward in the integration of visible-induced luminescence imaging methods for the study of ancient polychromy”, Heritage Science, 5, pp. 24-45.

Forbes J.R. (1955) “Studies in ancient technology”, III, p.216. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Galiani, B. (1758) “L’architettura di M. Vitruvio Pollione”. Translated from “De Architectura” Liber VII, Chapter 11, p.293. Naples: Stamperia Simoniana.

Giarola, M., Mariotto G., Barberio, M. and Ajò, D. (2012) “Raman spectroscopy in gemmology as seen from a ‘jeweller’s’ point of view”, Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, 43(11), pp. 1828–1832.

Haüy, R.J. (1801) “Traité de minéralogy”, Vol.IV, Chapter VII, pp,358- 360, Imprimerie de Delance, Paris.

Higa, T. (1993) “Effective micro-organisms: an earth saving revolution”, Vol. 1, Sunmark Publishing, Tokyo.

Higa, T. (1998) “Effective micro-organisms: an earth saving revolution”, Vol. 2, Sunmark Publishing, Tokyo.

Maini, L., Ajò, D. and Ehrman, S. (2006) "The identification of gemstones by photoluminescence: synthetic and natural Mg-Al spinels" in Proceedings of the 4th International Gemological Symposium & GIA Gemological Research Conference (August 2006, S. Diego, California, U.S.A.). Gems & Gemology, 42, p. 125.

Petushkova, J.P. and Lyalokova, N.N. (1986) "Microbiological degradation of lead-containing pigments in mural paintings", Studies in conservation, 31(2), pp. 65-69.







How to Cite

“The Colored Chemistry” (2019) Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 11(02), pp. 07–13. doi:10.23738/CCSJ.110201.