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Carnelian Properties, Facts and Photos

rich marmalade coloured carnelian mineral positioned on a small stand

1. What is Carnelian?
2. History of Carnelian
3. Carnelian Healing Properties
4. Article Pictures
5. Shop Carnelian

What is Carnelian?

Carnelian a variety of the mineral quartz or to be more exact, a reddish orange variety of chalcedony. 

Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz.  Cryptocrystalline means a mineral's crystals are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Carnelian is generally translucent.  Some stones may only be translucent around the edges.  

It can exhibit solid colour or may also be banded.  In banded varieties the reddish orange colour is chalcedony, the white is quartz.  All banded chalcedony irrespective of colour is known as agate. 

Carnelian with a deeper reddish-brown colour is known as sard.  The two names are often used interchangeably although sard tends to be less well known. 

Apart from the difference in colour and carnelian being slightly softer, there are few other significant differences.

The name sardonyx is used to describe carnelian with bands of sard and black or white chalcedony. It's a type of onyx which is a term used for chalcedony with parallel bands of different colours.

Different coloured agates are often heat treated or soaked in various solutions to enhance or change the colour.  This is done to imitate natural carnelian.

When agate is heated impurities of iron oxide turn a deep shade of orange.  A considerable amount of carnelian being sold is treated agate.  This is because it's more readily available and cheaper.

The name "carnelian" originates from the Latin word "carnis" meaning "flesh" because of its colour.  The colour comes primarily by impurities of hematite.

Although mostly known as "carnelian" the names "cornelian" and "carnelian agate" are also used. 

The finest grade carnelian generally comes from India.  It can also found in Brazil, Australia, Russia, Madagascar, South Africa, Uruguay and the U.S.A.

Carnelian is a relatively hard mineral which makes it quite easy to work with.  On Mohs scale of hardness it grades 6.5 to 7.  Polished stones usually exhibit a vitreous lustre

History of Carnelian

The history of carnelian can be traced back thousands of years. Its origins go back to ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and Egypt.

In ancient Egypt it was readily available and could be easily mined.  It was widely used for jewellery, amulets and seals. 

Extensive evidence suggests carnelian was associated with the Sun God Ra.  

In the Book of the Dead in spell 108 carnelian is associated with the rising sun. The Book of the Dead is a series of ancient Egyptian funerary texts that was intended to guide and assist the deceased in the afterlife.

It included spells, prayers, hymns and instructions written on papyrus scrolls.  These were placed in the tombs of the deceased.

Carnelian was used in abundance in ancient Egyptian tombs.  It was believed to assist the soul of the deceased on its journey to the afterlife.  It was also believed to offer protection.

In the book of Exodus in the Old Testament red carnelian is believed (in one interpretation) to have been the first stone in the first row of the high priest breastplate.  This religious garment was worn by Aaron the first Jewish High Priest.

Carnelian is also revered in the Islamic faith.  The prophet Muhammad is said to have worn a ring featuring a carnelian gemstone which faced inwards towards his palm.

It's referred to as an "Abyssinian stone" (Abyssinia being modern day Ethiopia) which has led to considerable confusion over its exact identification.carnelian tumbled stones

Carnelian Healing Properties

Carnelian is said to aid analytical ability and precision.  It's recommended for those in the performing arts because it enhances creativity.  It boosts confidence, courage and self esteem.  Having good self-esteem helps with motivation, mental health and success.

Carnelian can be used to improve concentration and memory.  It removes negative energies from other crystals and can help increase physical energy and personal power.  It also encourages a positive outlook on life.

Carnelian is a great stone to carry when going to work because of its ability to boost energy.  It eases a grumpy mood, brings positivity to pessimistic thoughts and works hard to brighten the day.

Carnelian can be used to rekindle passion in a long term relationship.  It reignites the spark of desire and encourages you to enjoy everything that life has to offer.

Carnelian was once believed to calm jealousy, envy and rage.  It was also said to instill courage during battle.

On the traditional birthstone chart sardonyx and carnelian are the birthstones for August.  Carnelian is also associated with the zodiac sign for Virgo.

Article Pictures

The carnelian in the photo at the top of our article is courtesy of Steve (Singingstone48 - Flickr).  The tumbled stones are from our collection.  Both images are clickable.

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