Carnelian is a reddish, glassy stone that is a variety of chalcedony, a mineral of the quartz family. The color can vary greatly, ranging from pale orange to almost black. While this unique gem can be so cloudy and deep in color as to be nearly opaque, a carnelian stone is always translucent around the edges.
Carnelian is most commonly found in Brazil, India, Siberia, and Germany. Its name is a corruption of the 14-century word cornelian, relating to the “flesh,” probably due to its color. The term cornelian is thought to have come from the Latin corneolus or cornum, now known as the Cornelian cherry, a plant that has translucent red fruits that resemble the stone.
The carnelian stone was commonly used during Roman times to make engraved gems for rings that imprinted a wax seal on correspondence or other important documents because, interestingly, hot wax does not stick to carnelian. The ancient Egyptians, who called carnelian “the setting sun” (the inspiration for the brooch above, no doubt!) associated it with the receptive or passive female energies. They identified it with the fertile menstrual blood of the mother goddess, Isis, and believed it boosted fertility. Further, in its red-orange to reddish brown shades, like the ring below, they considered it the active male energy stone, recognized by that glowing vibrant color. Because of this, carnelian is traditionally worn to enhance passion, love, and desire.
Once worn by warriors in battle, carnelian is also believed to enhance courage. This stone has been believed by some to stimulate optimism and creativity, drive away negativity and apathy, restore vitality and motivation, and kindle joyful emotions. Interesting beliefs around carnelian are many. Some think that it has the ability to protect against envy, rage, and resentment, and ultimately calms anger. It can contribute to better focus and perception and less mental lethargy.
Carnelian is even believed to have healing powers, like treating lower back problems, rheumatism, arthritis, neuralgia, and depression and improving vitamin and mineral absorption. This lovely stone is quite curative, holds a lot of power, and is beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to wear carnelian jewelry?