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Carnelian Stone: Meaning, Healing Properties & Symbolism

Carnelian Stone: Meaning, Healing Properties & Symbolism

Carnelian is a popular and well-known gemstone, recognized for its incredibly striking coloring and the slight glow its transparency creates. However, while many people are aware of carnelian, most don’t know much about the history of the carnelian stone, its origins, and how to tell high-quality versions from less valuable ones.

Ultimately, the tale behind carnelian and the details about this attractive gem are intriguing. If you’re ready to learn more, here’s a look at the carnelian stone meaning, healing properties, symbolism, and more.

How Is Carnelian Formed?

Technically, carnelian isn’t a gemstone; it’s a variety of chalcedony. It’s a mineral comprised of silica and moganite, though it also contains other materials. For example, its colouring is based mainly on the presence of iron, the amount of iron oxide can alter the hue across a set spectrum of shades. Carnelian can range from deep red to reddish brown, reddish-orange to pale orange.

banded carnelian in a range of colors

Essentially carnelian is formed when iron impurities are present in chalcedony. It’s most commonly found in areas with past volcanic activity or spots where igneous rocks are present. When magma rises through the earth, escaping gases can create pockets. In those spots, silica fluids containing various other minerals flow and settle. Over time, pressure and temperature changes in the cavity shift, allowing stones like carnelian to form.

What Is Carnelian on the Hardness Scale?

Generally, carnelian is a 6.5 to 7.0 on the Mohs hardness scale. The main reason for the range and not a set figure is that the composition of each piece of carnelian can vary slightly, mildly altering its hardness.

When a stone is at least a 7 on the Mohs scale, that usually means it’s suitable for use in jewelry, as it isn’t as susceptible to damage from general wear. Additionally, it won’t dull overly quickly, allowing it to maintain some level of shine for a relatively long period.

However, carnelian is also soft enough that it’s suitable for carving. That’s one of the reasons it has long been popular. It’s an excellent choice for signets, cameos, etched carnelian beads, and similar types of engraving.

Is Red Agate the Same as Carnelian?

Carnelian beads in a range of colors from red to yellow

No, red agate and carnelian aren’t the same stone. By comparison, red agate is softer than carnelian and doesn’t accept a polish as readily. Additionally, red agate usually has a darker coloring within the red tones.

Most carnelian typically features fiery shades of orange – though it can lean into yellowish or pinkish territory – red agate is most commonly darker and closer to red than orange.

Additionally, the red variety of agate is inherently banded. Technically, most red agate features sard, a deeper reddish-brown type of chalcedony. However, you may also find agate with carnelian bands, though the carnelian sections usually range in color from amber to burnt orange without reaching red.

What Does High-Quality Carnelian Look Like?

In a technical sense, you won’t find many quality issues with carnelian, as the stones possess similar characteristics when it comes to durability. However, specific versions do command higher prices than others on the market.

Typically, the brighter the red-orange hue, the more valuable the stone’s considered. Additionally, larger carnelian stones are often worth more, especially if they feature more subtle banding, mottling, or similar color shifts or inconsistencies.

Sufficient translucency is also preferred. While carnelian is classically translucent, some banded or mottled varieties may include other materials that lead to more opaque sections. Since light passing through makes the carnelian gemstone more striking, translucency is often preferred.

Is Carnelian Expensive?

Overall, carnelian is one of the least expensive types of chalcedony, even if the quality is high. As a result, it’s typically within reach of nearly anyone looking to expand their collection or pick up a new piece of jewelry.

However, antique pieces featuring carnelian can get expensive. Generally, that’s due to the age of the piece overall and not necessarily the stone itself.

History of Carnelian

Since ancient times, carnelian has been a popular stone. Its history is incredibly unique and is primarily connected to leaders, such as kings and other types of royalty.

The oldest carnelian beads date from the early Neolithic period. Carnelian played a prominent role in the culture of ancient Egypt, symbolizing protection, good fortune, vitality, and spiritual significance. Its vibrant colour and perceived mystical properties made it a favoured gemstone for both ornamental and symbolic purposes.

Romans, and Greeks used carnelian in signet rings and continue to do so to this day to help ward off the evil eye.

Etched Carnelian beads were used by ancient egyptians and other early cultures

In the middle ages, Carnelian was part of an informal gem language that royal courts in England and France used to communicate. Specific positioning was used to effectively convey particular messages, such as expressing goodwill to those nearby.

In Arabic nations, carnelian was also associated with royalty, particularly kings. The stone’s association with courage was partially responsible, especially its connection with strength as a public speaker, allowing the wearer to convey messages powerfully to the people.

Carnelian is also a stone that the prophet Mohammed is believed to have worn, which broadens its appeal in Muslim nations. In some cultures, carnelian was a lucky stone thought to shield the wearer from the Evil Eye, allowing it also to support peace.

However, some early beliefs about carnelian centred on ideas that specific carvings in certain stones were beneficial. Inscriptions and imagery were then used strategically, aiming to help the gemstone wearer or owner enjoy particular benefits associated with the gemstones and the chosen carvings.

What Does the Name Carnelian Mean?

The name “carnelian” is derived from “carneus,” which is Latin for “flesh” and “carnal.” Many believe the name is a nod to the stone’s colour, as it can have a flesh-like hue. Others believe that the association with the blood of living things – such as some beliefs that the stone assists with blood-related elements – may also play a role. Essentially, it causes the carnelian gemstone to relate to living things, which consist of flesh and blood.

Where Is Carnelian Found in Nature?

Like many precious stones, carnelian is found in many parts of the world. India is currently the most common source for commercial carnelian gems. However, you can also find the stone in many other nations, including Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, Scotland, Siberia, the United States, Uruguay, and more.

Where Is Carnelian Mined?

Technically, carnelian is mined in many locations all around the globe. However, commercial operations are most common in Brazil, Egypt, India, and Uruguay.

Carnelian Metaphysical Properties

Many people believe that the carnelian metaphysical properties focus on liveliness and having physical energy, a fighting spirit or a warrior spirit. Essentially, it’s considered a gemstone of action, removing blockages to make forward movement easier for the owner or wearer. It may ease issues with self-esteem that hold someone back or encourage them to continue the fight even when they’re worried that they don’t have the energy.

Carnelian meaning and physical healing properties

The colour of carnelian also connects the gemstone to fire. Along with a sense of warmth and joy, it’s said to bring peace and have metaphysical properties that support greater intimacy in relationships. However, it can also stand for passion in other areas of life, essentially leading the wearer to pursue what matters most to them without hesitation.

What Does Carnelian Symbolize?

Due to its colouring, carnelian often symbolizes warmth and fieriness. It’s thought to imbue the wearer with a sense of life and vibrancy. Essentially, it’s an energetic stone that could potentially support a person who needs a bit of uplifting energy.

There’s also a connection between carnelian and strength and bravery. Some of those associations date back hundreds of years, which is why royalty often wore the stone. The strongest relationship is between courage while speaking in public, though some extend it to making a voice heard in a variety of situations.

Carnelian is also a stone of creativity. Whether it’s overcoming issues like writer’s block or looking for unconventional solutions to problems, the carnelian stone is believed to help in matters of that nature.

Carnelian Healing Properties

There are many people who believe that carnelian has some potent healing properties. Some feel it can assist with blood-related ailments, including easing discomfort caused by menstruation. Others think that it helps with circulation, particularly oxygen flow within the body.

Some think that carnelian also benefits the bones and ligaments, relieving stiffness or helping conditions like arthritis. It’s also associated with detoxification, particularly for those battling specific substance issues.

raw carnelian stone

Others relate carnelian to sexual energy and vitality. In that context, it’s thought that carnelian can heighten one’s libido.

Now, it’s critical to note that there’s no scientific proof that gemstones – including carnelian – can prevent or treat any medical condition. While wearing, holding, or meditating on carnelian isn’t like to cause any harm, it isn’t a substitute for genuine medical care. As a result, if you have any health concerns, make sure to schedule an appointment with an appropriate healthcare professional.

Is Carnelian a Zodiac Birthstone?

Carnelian isn’t a modern birthstone associated with a particular month currently. However, it was previously a birthstone for August, so it’s listed on various ancient birthstone tables. It’s also considered a secondary or tertiary birthstone by some groups, though it’s been quite some time since it was listed as a primary birthstone.

Additionally, as a zodiac birthstone, the gem carnelian is connected to Virgo. It’s said to support warmth, creativity, and vitality, assisting a zodiac sign largely associated with analytical and logical thinking.

What Chakra Is Carnelian For?

Due to its orange coloring, most people connect carnelian jewelry with the sacral chakra, which is related to creativity and sexuality. However, since its shade can vary slightly, the carnelian gemstones themselves can support all three lower chakras, the root chakra, pelvic and solar plexus chakra, as they range in hue from red to orange to yellow.

How to Tell If Carnelian Is Fake?

Generally, a few strategies can help you separate genuine carnelian crystals from fakes. First, carnelian is a relatively dense gemstone. As a result, it often feels heavy for its size. Since that’s the case, stones or crystals that seem light when held in your hand are more likely to be reproductions.

Brownish red antique carnelian broach

As mentioned previously, natural carnelian is typically a translucent stone. That means light passes through a bit, but not with the same amount of ease as a transparent gemstone. If the gem seems overly clear, then it’s likely a fake. Similarly, if light doesn’t make its way through at all, there’s a strong chance it isn’t real carnelian.

Finally, overly consistent colouring – particularly on stones that aren’t tiny – is usually indicative of reproductions. It may also signal that the stone is actually dyed agate or another stone dyed to resemble a carnelian crystal. Even high-quality carnelian has some slight variances, hints of cloudiness, or subtle banding. As a result, a gemstone with a fully consistent colour probably isn’t genuine.

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