Like the unexpected fire of a sunset, or the primary flash of autumn brilliance, the Carnelian gemstone captivates. Its bold energy brings a rush of heat and joy that lingers, stimulating and empowering. Known as a stone of motivation and endurance, leadership and courage, Carnelians have protected and inspired throughout history.
Carnelian is the alternative birthstone for the month of August. Carnelian has a long history. Over 4500 years ago, Sumerian and Egyptian craftsmen were making jewellery set with the stone. Ancient Romans and Greeks also valued the stone, which they used for intaglios. You might enjoy finding out more about other gems, such as bloodstones or agate gemstones.
A glassy, translucent stone, Carnelian is an orange-colours variety of Chalcedony, a mineral of the Quartz family. Its colour varies from pale pinkish-orange to a deep rusty brown, though it’s most known for its brilliant orange and red-orange crystals. Its name comes from a Latin word sense “flesh.”
In antiquity, as well as today, Carnelian is believed to help timid speakers become both eloquent and bold. Ancient Warriors wore Carnelian around their neck for courage and physical power to overcome their enemies. In Egypt it had been worn by master architects to point out their rank of builder, and alchemists of the center Ages used it as a boiling stone to activate the energy of other Chalcedonies. As the first stone in the breastplate of the High Priest, it signified the blood of the martyrs, and was once believed to prevent illness and the Plague.
The ancient Egyptians called Carnelian “the setting sun.” In its orange hues, they identified it with the receptive or passive female energies, and associated it with the fertile menorrhea of the mother goddess, Isis. In its red, red-orange to sepia shades, they considered it the active male energy stone, recognized by its glowing vibrant colour. Carnelian is traditionally worn to reinforce passion, love, and desire.
Carnelian in jewellery
Feng shui-wise, carnelian is employed for its energy activating and protective qualities. It is often used along with citrine in the so-called feng shui gem tree for wealth, as well as various bracelets and amulets. Carnelian is also associated with the flow of abundance.
As with other opaque silica gemstones, carnelian jewellery is quite affordable making it ideal for daily jewellery pieces. It adds a burst of colour to any outfit and tends to stand out beautifully against any skin tone.
Carnelian looks beautiful in both silver and yellow gold metals. When set in yellow gold, carnelian takes on a vintage charm as the two colours complement each other perfectly. However, silver metals accentuate the colour of the stone and adds the perfect contrast.
The gemstone also suits a variety of designs , be it casual and bohemian or classy and formal. This depends on the setting and the skill of the designer. It also pairs well with more expensive materials, such as diamonds, which can make for stunning and unique jewellery designs.
Carnelian stones are often utilized in anything from rings and earrings to bracelets, pendants, necklaces and rings. With a hardness of 6.5 to 7 and a very good wearability, the carnelian stone actually makes for a very long-lasting and sturdy jewellery stone – when maintained and cared for properly, it can last in top condition for a very long time.
It is an excellent alternative gemstone to engagement rings, but it might not be for everyone.
The trouble with engagement rings is that it’s a piece of jewellery that you’ll be wearing frequently, if not every day. As such, it needs to be durable enough to withstand regular exposure. Carnelian is a relatively soft gemstone, compared to engagement ring staples such as diamonds, sapphires and rubies and will require careful maintenance to keep it from scratches and fracturing.
It’s important to set your carnelian in a protective setting like bezel or halo and to remove it whenever engaging in vigorous activity. While we don’t recommend carnelian for engagement rings, if your heart is set on it, it’s not impossible to make it work.
How to choose a Carnelian gemstone
Carnelian comes in a variety of orange to red hues, from faint to vivid. While dynamic, vibrant hues are generally more desirable, there is no specific carnelian gemstone colour that’s valued more than the others.
Both light orange and dark red carnelian gemstones are equally priced and valued, so the choice between them is purely cosmetic and subjective. Choose the carnelian colour that you think looks best on you. Carnelian is almost always translucent but can also be opaque at times. It has an attractive vitreous to waxy lustre, which gives the stone a beautiful appearance. Carnelian’s lustre brings out the colour of the stone and makes you want to reach over and touch the smooth stone.
While generally freed from inclusions, the stone can appear cloudy. If you hold a light against a carnelian, you’ll notice that the transparency of the stone is irregular, with parts of the stone appearing cloudier than others.
Carnelian gemstones are usually cut in smooth cuts, beads or cabochons, which accentuates its smoothness and colour. But it can also be cut faceted into various shapes, such as round, oval, square or rectangular.
No matter the item you want designed for your carnelian, we at Your Diamonds, will guide you in the right direction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Carnelian is red-brown to bright orange chalcedony, which is a compact variety of microcrystalline quartz.
Notably they are found mainly in Brazil and India.
They range in colour from Brown to red-brown, to bright orange and are often banded.
Carnelian comes in at 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness and is often used in jewellery.
Yes they are indeed. They are actually the most affordable of the chalcedony family of stones.