To fine-tune the properties of ceramics, they can now be processed into uniform-size nanocrystals with spherical, wire, rod, tadpole shapes. Another trend in research aims at arranging individual nanocrystals into superlattices and investigating their unique properties. Despite these recent advances, controlling the shape, crystal structure, and surface characteristics of ceramic nanocrystals is still a difficult task. Here, we report a novel approach to tailor-made ceramic nanocrystals by means of organic ligand-assisted hydrothermal synthesis. Also important, the use of water, instead of an organic solvent, provides an environmentally benign “green” chemistry route to nano building blocks for advanced materials and devices.