Nanocrystalline (Y0.7Gd0.3)(2)O-3 powder, synthetised via polymer complex solution method, was compacted into 25 pellets applying high pressures (173-867 MPa) for 30 s that were subsequently sintered at different temperatures (800-1400 degrees C) for 18 h. The morphology and optical characteristics of the starting powder and prepared ceramic samples were monitored and discussed in order to identify the changes induced with the variations of initial compacting pressure, which influence is often neglected, and with sintering temperature. The grain size tends to decrease significantly with increasing pressure, even when elevated temperatures are used for annealing, while low compacting pressure resulted in grain coarsening and, in some cases, even in anomalous morphology of ceramic samples. Luminescence emission in ceramic samples decays faster than in nanopowders, that is in complete agreement with the grain formation and gradual transformation to the bulk material. Judd-Ofelt intensity parameters and branching ratios were calculated taking into account the difference in effective refractive index for nanopowder and ceramic samples. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd and Techna Group S.r.l. All rights reserved.