Carnelian Stone | Meaning and Properties



rich marmalade coloured carnelian mineral positioned on a small stand



Introduction to Carnelian

Carnelian is a variety of the mineral quartz or to be more precise, a reddish to orange brown coloured chalcedony that's often banded.  Stones are usually translucent and have the same chemical make up as the mineral agate which is also a chalcedony and in fact agate is often treated either by heat or by soaking it in various solutions in order to enhance or change its colour completely.  Iron oxides turn red or orange when the stone is heated which mimics the colour of carnelian.

Stones that exhibit darker shades of colour from deep reddish brown to almost black are known as sard but the names are often used interchangeably and apart from the slight difference in colour and carnelian being softer, there are few other significant differences.  The name sardonyx is used to describe carnelian with bands of sard and white chalcedony.  Sardonyx and carnelian are the traditional birthstones for the month of August whilst peridot is the modern birthstone.

The name carnelian comes from the Latin word 'carnis' meaning flesh because of its colour which is caused by the mineral hematite.  Although the finest grade of material generally comes from India it can also be found in Brazil, Australia, Russia, Madagascar, South Africa, Uruguay and the U.S.A.

Carnelian is a relatively hard stone which makes it particularly suitable as a lapidary material.  On Mohs scale of mineral hardness it grades 6.5 to 7.



Through the Ages

Carnelian was used 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 red carnelian is believed (in one interpretation) to have been the first stone in the first row of the high priest breastplate, a religious garment worn during biblical times.  It's also very popular in the Islamic faith because the prophet Muhammad is said to have worn a ring featuring carnelian facing inwards towards his palm.  It's referred to as an "Abyssinian stone" (Abyssinia is modern day Ethiopia) which has led to considerable confusion over its exact identification.



Used in Crystal Healing

Carnelian was once believed to calm jealousy, envy and rage and was also said to give those wearing it courage in battle.  Today in crystal healing it's said to help with analytical ability and precision, dramatic and theatrical pursuits, courage, concentration, poor memory, emotional negativity, nosebleeds and infertility.  Its energy has the ability to remove negativity from other crystals and can help increase physical energy, personal power, creativity and compassion.

The carnelian in the photo at the top of our page is courtesy of Steve (Singingstone48) Flickr.  Click to see original. 



Our Collection of Carnelian


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Further Reading

Information from Wikipedia