Carnelian a Variety of Quartz
Carnelian is a variety of the mineral quartz or to be more precise, a reddish to orange brown coloured chalcedony that's usually translucent and has the same chemical make up as the mineral agate. The brown variety of carnelian is usually known as sard but gemstones which feature bands of sard and white chalcedony are known as sardonyx. The name carnelian comes from the Latin word 'carnis' meaning flesh because of the colour of the stone which is caused by hematite, a mineral form of iron oxide.
Sardonyx and carnelian are both considered to be the traditional birthstones for the month of August.
Carnelian was found in abundance in Ancient Egyptian tombs because it was believed to assist the soul on its journey into the afterlife and to also offer protection. In the book of Exodus in the Old Testament it's said to have been one of the gemstones in the Breastplate of Aaron. Carnelian is extremely popular in the Islamic faith because the prophet Muhammad is said to have worn a ring featuring the stone which was worn facing inwards towards his palm. It is referred to as an "Abyssinian stone" (Abyssinia being modern day Ethiopia) which has led to considerable confusion over its exact identification.
Once believed to calm jealousy, envy and rage, carnelian was also said to give its owner courage in battle. Today it's popular for use in crystal healing where it's said to help with analytical ability and precision, dramatic and theatrical pursuits, courage, concentration, poor memory, emotional negativity, nosebleeds and infertility. The energy of carnelian also has the ability to remove negativity from other crystals and can help increase physical energy, personal power, creativity and compassion.
Although the finest grades of carnelian generally come from India, it can also be found in Brazil, Australia, Russia, Madagascar, South Africa, Uruguay and the U.S.A.
Carnelian is relatively hard which makes it ideal for lapidary purposes. It's graded 6.5 to 7 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.