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Stones and crystals derived from the Earth have brought on a sense of magic and wonder for those who behold their beauty since ancient times. The power, glory, and majesty offered by compression over time bring about a myriad of minerals that glimmer, shimmer, and shine and have unique properties.
Carnelian is one such ancient stone that has been part of human history for centuries. Known for its warm, vibrant color, it’s often used in jewelry making and decorative objects and is believed by some to have certain energies and properties that promote good fortune and harmony.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history, meaning, and symbolism behind carnelian. We’ll also look at its various uses and healing properties.
What is Carnelian?
Carnelian is a type of quartz that’s typically found in the form of pebbles or small stones in riverbeds and other sedimentary environments. It can also be found in certain types of rock formations, such as volcanic deposits. Carnelian is reddish-orange in color, but can also be yellow, pink, or brown.
This stone is a form of chalcedony, which is a cousin to agate as a variety of microcrystalline quartz. Its color often appears a fiery red, but it can also be pink, brown, orange, and yellow. The earth creates it from the intergrowth of two silica minerals with drastically alternate crystal structures: quartz and moganite.
Carnelian is typically translucent with a waxy luster and the reddish tints are caused by iron oxide during growth. This stone sits between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs hardness scale with a specific gravity of 2.58 to 2.64. It’s rating on the refractive index ranges between 1.530 and 1.539.
Where to Find Carnelian
Carnelian is found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Russia, and the United States. It’s often found in the form of pebbles or nodules in sedimentary rocks, and also in veins or layers within metamorphic rocks. Some places where carnelian may be found include riverbeds, cliffs, and quarries.
The Color of Carnelian
Carnelian gets its color from the presence of iron oxide impurities in the quartz. The color of carnelian can range from pale orange to deep red, depending on the concentration and type of iron oxide present. The orange and red colors of carnelian are caused by the presence of hematite, which is an iron oxide mineral.
The pink color of carnelian is often caused by the presence of tiny fractures or inclusions within the gemstone that scatter light and give the gemstone a pink hue. Carnelian can also be found in shades of yellow, brown, and green, depending on the specific impurities present in the gemstone. The color of carnelian is often enhanced by heat treatment, which can remove any yellow or brown hues and leave the gemstone with a more intense, reddish color.
History & Lore of Carnelian
Carnelian has been used for decorative purposes for thousands of years and has a rich history. In the Middle Ages, carnelian was used in Europe as a talisman and was believed to have the ability to ward off evil spirits. It was also thought to have medicinal properties and was used to treat a variety of ailments.
This gemstone continued to be popular throughout the Renaissance and was used in a variety of decorative objects, such as vases and figurines. It was also used in jewelry and was often set in gold or silver.
Today, carnelian is still widely used in jewelry and decorative objects, and it’s highly sought after for its beautiful color and durability. It’s also believed to have spiritual and healing properties and is used in various spiritual and metaphysical practices.
Because carnelian has been in use for centuries, this stone has an expansive history. There are artifacts, gem carvings, and other evidence unearthed by archaeologists. These provide proof that carnelian was in use as far back as the Bronze Age.
Use of Carnelian in Ancient Rome
The ancient Romans used carnelian for a variety of decorative and practical purposes. They prized the gemstone for its beautiful orange-red color and used it in a range of decorative objects, such as vases, figurines, and other decorative items.
Carnelian was also used in jewelry, such as rings and pendants, and was often set in gold or silver. It was a popular gemstone in ancient Rome and was worn by both men and women.
In addition to its decorative uses, carnelian was also used for practical purposes in ancient Rome. It was used to make seals and signet rings, which were used to stamp documents and other official papers. It was also believed to have medicinal properties and was used to treat a variety of ailments.
Use of Carnelian in Ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt, carnelian was highly valued and was often used in jewelry, such as rings, pendants, and amulets.
Carnelian was also believed to have protective powers in ancient Egypt and was used to create amulets and other objects that were thought to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. It was also used in burial practices and was often placed in tombs and grave sites to protect the deceased in the afterlife.
According to various sources, Ancient Egyptians placed carnelian on mummies to help the dead on their journey through the afterlife. Even in modern Egyptian culture, people still wear carnelian to guard against the evil eye.
Use of Carnelian During the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, alchemists would boil carnelian in combination with other gemstones to release their energy into the ether. It was also believed that there was a connection between carnelian and kingship. Note that it’s not about female royalty, but purely connected to kingship. This could be due to the blood-like color of the carnelian.
It was also during this time that people believed carved carnelian had a sacred and superstitious significance. The evidence of this comes from The Book of Wings by a writer named Ragiel in the 13th century. He states:
“A man with a sword in his hand, on a carnelian, preserves the place where it may be from lightning and tempest, and guards the wearer from vices and enchantments.”Ragiel, The Book of Wings
Use of Carnelian in Arabic Traditions
Like other ancient cultures, the Arabs used carnelian jewelry, such as rings, pendants, and amulets. Arabic traditions carry on this idea of kingship, having held it in high regard, especially on a spiritual level.
They say the Prophet Mohammed wore a carnelian signet ring beset in silver on his right hand. They liken the power of carnelian to that of fire and lions, giving courage when needed and assisting with public speaking.
Carnelian in the Time of Napoleon
Napoleon Bonaparte, the French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution, is believed to have had a connection to carnelian. According to legend, Napoleon carried a carnelian seal with him at all times and used it to stamp official documents and letters.
The carnelian seal was said to have belonged to his mother and was considered a lucky charm by Napoleon. He was known to be superstitious and believed that the seal brought him good fortune. After obtaining an octagonal carnelian seal, he held it in high regard. Because of his belief in its power, he ordered his son, Prince Imperial Louis-Napoleon, to wear it prior to the battle against the Zulu nation.
Unfortunately, Prince Imperial didn’t believe in the talisman as much as his father. The Zulu annihilated Louis-Napoleon and his forces. Superstitions arose that the talisman harmed the boy rather than helped him. Speculations state that it was because he wasn’t a true king, and he didn’t put faith in the stone.
It’s not clear whether this story is true, but it’s possible that Napoleon did carry a carnelian seal with him and believed in its protective powers.
Carnelian’s Healing Properties
The healing properties of this ochre-like stone are as vast and various as its history. They span physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual abilities.
Carnelian Healing Properties: The Body
Some claim that carnelian has the power to treat PMS, nosebleeds, and skin diseases, and stimulate underactive libidos. Others report how it can help with neuralgia, gallstones, kidney stones, insomnia, seasonal allergies, and colds. It aids in the amelioration of spinal, pancreatic, and spleen disorders.
Carnelian Healing Properties: The Mind
On a mental level, it’s said that carnelian can stimulate analytical capabilities with excellent precision. Perceptiveness and awareness of one’s inherent talents bring about synthesis. This results in understanding one’s emotional state and the condition of the inner self.
Carnelian can also inspire inquisitiveness and curiosity, which increases our drive to do better in life. It has the capacity to dispel indolence, passivity, and apathy while producing motivation and interconnectedness in otherworldly planes.
Since antiquity, people used carnelian to ward off insanity, melancholy, and depression. However, modern users apply it to enhance self-esteem, and creativity and to fight against feelings of inadequacy.
Carnelian Meaning and Symbolism
Carnelian is a gemstone that has been prized for centuries for its beauty and spiritual significance. It’s believed to have a number of symbolic meanings, including:
- Courage: Carnelian is often associated with courage and boldness, and it’s believed to help people overcome fears and take action.
- Creativity: Some people believe that carnelian can help stimulate creativity and inspire new ideas.
- Energy: This stone is thought to have energizing properties and is believed to help people feel livelier and more energetic.
- Love: Carnelian is sometimes associated with love and relationships and can help encourage feelings of love and passion.
- Protection: Carnelian is also thought to have protective properties, and it’s often worn or carried as a talisman to ward off negativity and danger.
Is Carnelian a Birthstone?
Carnelian is not one of the traditional birthstones, which are specific gemstones that are associated with each month of the year and are often used in birthstone jewelry.
However, carnelian is sometimes used as an alternative birthstone for those born in the month of July, which is typically associated with the birthstone ruby.
It’s worth noting that the concept of birthstones is not a scientifically recognized phenomenon and different cultures, and organizations have different lists of birthstones. Some people choose to use carnelian as their birthstone even if it’s not part of the traditional list.
How to Use Carnelian
Carnelian can bring you various benefits when used correctly. If you’re not interested in jewelry, you can still choose to have a carnelian with you as a decoration or even in household items that you use daily. Here are the various ways you can use carnelian:
Wear Carnelian in Jewelry
Carnelian can be set into rings, pendants, earrings, and other types of jewelry. It’s often used as an accent stone or as the main stone in a piece of jewelry.
Carnelian in Decorative Objects
The carnelian can also be used in decorative objects such as figurines, bowls, and other decorative items.
Carnelian in Feng Shui
Some people believe that carnelian has certain energies and properties that can promote good fortune and harmony in the home. As a result, it is sometimes used in Feng Shui practices.
Carnelian in Healing Practices
Some people believe that carnelian has certain healing properties and use it in crystal healing practices.
It is important to note that the use of gemstones for healing or other purposes is not based on scientific evidence and is considered to be a form of alternative medicine.
If you are interested in using carnelian for these purposes, it is important to do your own research and consult with a qualified healthcare professional.
How to Clean and Care for Carnelian
There are several ways to clean carnelian gemstones:
- Warm water and soap: One of the simplest ways to clean carnelian is to mix a small amount of mild soap with warm water and use a soft cloth to gently scrub the surface of the gemstone. Rinse the gemstone with clean water and dry it with a soft cloth.
- Ultrasonic cleaner: An ultrasonic cleaner uses high-frequency sound waves to clean the surface of the gemstone. These cleaners are available for purchase and can be an effective way to clean carnelian, as long as the gemstone is not too porous.
- Professional cleaning: If you are concerned about damaging your carnelian gemstone, you may want to consider having it professionally cleaned. A jeweler or other professional gemstone cleaner will have the necessary equipment and expertise to safely clean the gemstone.
It’s important to handle the carnelian gently, as it can be scratched or chipped. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or materials to clean carnelian, as these can damage the surface of the gemstone.
Carnelian – Commercial Treatments
An interesting fact about carnelian is that most commercial stones are often the result of a dying and heat-treating process. Not only does this aid in making the stone’s color more stable, but it also helps to achieve shade variations along with bringing out other brighter pigments.
Because carnelian is porous, it can absorb organic and vegetable dyes very well. Depending on the source, technology, and vendor, chemical salts and other natural pigments may also be incorporated into the stone. After several weeks, the dye penetrates the surface of the stone to provide uniformity.
In India, freshly mined carnelian is left out in the sun to remove any brownish tints. Doing so shifts these into purer and brighter reds and oranges.
In many spiritual traditions, it’s believed to be a stone of motivation, courage, and creativity, and is thought to help its wearer tap into their inner strength and confidence. It’s also said to be a stone of protection and to have powerful grounding and stabilizing properties.
While both jasper and carnelian are types of chalcedony, they are not the same thing. Their characteristics are similar but the major difference between them is that jasper is opaque whereas carnelian is translucent.
Carnelian is said to attract abundance, prosperity, and good luck as well as positive relationships and friendships, and to enhance self-esteem and confidence.
Wearing carnelian close to the skin, such as on the wrist or around the neck can maximize its energy and effectiveness. When worn on the left side of the body, it can be more receptive to receiving energy and when worn on the right side, it can enhance outgoing energy and action.
Yes, the carnelian can be placed in a bedroom. Some people believe that carnelian has calming and grounding properties that can promote restful sleep and relaxation. It’s also thought to be a stone of passion and creativity, which can be helpful for some individuals in the bedroom.
Activate carnelian by cleansing the stone before use by placing it in the sunlight, burying it in the earth, or washing it with water. You can also try using sound near the song to charge it with specific energies or place it where it’ll receive sunlight or moonlight.
In general, carnelian is a relatively affordable gemstone, with prices ranging from a few dollars for a small piece to several hundred dollars for a high-quality, large specimen.
A stunning, semiprecious stone that’s highly valued across the globe, carnelian is believed to have a variety of meanings and symbolic associations. It’s thought to bring courage, confidence, and good fortune to those who wear it and is also said to have grounding and stabilizing properties.
In ancient times, carnelian was believed to have healing properties and was often used in talismans and amulets. Today, it remains a popular stone and continues to be used in crystal healing, jewelry, and decorative objects.