In this work we report on the growth of cadmium sulfide and zinc sulfide nanocrystals by thermolysis, starting from a metal thiolate in a (i) solventless way, (ii) by a novel route in tryoctilphosphine oxide (TOPO), and (iii) by direct synthesis in a polystyrene matrix. The x-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) show that the nanocrystals fabricated by the different methods are under optimized growth conditions single crystals of zincblende structure and of regular spherical shape. The average size was estimated to be between 2.0-3.0 nm with a size dispersion that depends on the synthesis route and is in the range between 10% and 20%. The XPS results indicate that for the nanoparticles obtained via solventless strategy the sulfur is present both as bonded to the metal atom and to the organic residue, while in the TOPO synthesized nanoparticles the sulfur signal has only one component associated to the metal-sulfide bond. The photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL) analysis of CdS crystals clearly evidences the typical emissions of nanosized zincblende CdS monocrystalline particles. Furthermore, the optical spectroscopy data indicate that the size distribution of the Cdsulfide - TOPO nanoparticles seems to be generally larger than that ones grown directly in polymer matrix. For all the CdS samples, the metal-sulfide nanocrystals exhibit a trap-related radiative transition at about 2eV that can be attributed to the hole-electron recombination at particle surface defect-center.