Physical Properties of Carnelian
Carnelian, sometimes also called cornelian, is a silica chalcedony with iron oxide impurities – just like sard (which is different from sardonyx!). In fact, the two are often confused.
The key to distinguishing carnelian from sard is knowing their basic properties. The first one is the color. Carnelian has a warm orange shade that, at times, looks a little reddish or slightly brown. Sard is much darker. It's also harder than a carnelian. Also, when carnelian fractures, its edges look uneven and conchoidal, while sard's edges look slightly jagged.
Carnelian is commonly mined in Brazil, India, Russia, and Germany.
History and Lore of Carnelian
Similarly to opal, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and topaz, carnelian has been one of the most beloved gems throughout the world; and it has an incredibly exciting and rich history.
Let's start by explaining carnelian's name. Carnelian is actually the 16th century, misspelled version of the word cornelian, which gained popularity in the 14th century. Cornelian's etymology can be traced to the Latin word cornum, meaning cornel cherry.
Carnelian beads were found in Bulgaria and dated back to the Early Neolithic period. In Bronze Age Crete, carnelian was used to create decorative items. One of the more popular Hellenistic artworks made from carnelian is the intaglio with a Ptolemaic queen. In Egypt, necklaces made of gold and carnelian were found. Apparently, the ancient Egyptians believed that carnelian could protect them from the Evil Eye.
The Romans and Neo-Assyrians used carnelian for seal rings, since hot wax did not stick to the stone. The Prophet Mohammad was said to have owned a silver carnelian ring. Traditionally, Arabic cultures saw carnelian as a stone of royalty – carnelian is associated with both lions and fire, which were symbols of power and protection. In Hebrew mythology, carnelian is portrayed as a protective stone that tranquilizes the environment and soothes.
In ancient India, carnelian was sometimes etched with acid to create white patterns on it. In the Buddhist regions of the Indian subcontinent, as well as in Nepal and nearby China, carnelian was used for protective rituals.
During the rise of several aristocratic families in Poland, carnelian was used to create signet rings with coats of arms carved on them.
The English and French people in the 18th century used carnelian brooches with initials to communicate something, usually a good luck message.
Interestingly, Napoleon bought an octagonal, engraved carnelian seal during his campaign in Egypt. His nephew revered it and wore it together with his watch. However, his son, Louis-Napoleon, didn't appreciate it. When he was killed in South Africa, he was robbed of the talisman.
Metaphysical Properties of Carnelian
Carnelian is recommended for Scorpios, whose dark and murky personality benefits by being balanced with warm energy. Carnelian is the stone of the first three chakras: Muladhara, Svadhisthana, and Manipura (the root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras), depending on the most-prominent color(s) of the individual stone.
Carnelian is said to help you fight off negative energy coming from others. If you feel as if you've taken on some negative energy, or if there's a particular person that always drags you down, a carnelian talisman is said to be able to shield you from their impact. It will also help to bring positivity and attract true friendship, real love, and even sexual passion. It's the stone of loyalty, generosity, and other positive virtues.
Like other yellow and orange crystals, carnelian is recommended for singers and public speakers. Additionally, lawyers who use their talent to make justice prevail will benefit from carnelian, as well.
Carnelian is also said to be a metaphysical antidote for the diseases typically associated with the lack of yang energy, such as neuralgia, rheumatism, impotence, depression, slow metabolism, and lack of appetite (but, of course, is not a substitute for qualified professional and/or medical care and treatment). Carnelian talismans are also believed to invigorate blood, although there isn't any scientific proof of that.
According to the traditional Chinese geomancy practice of feng shui, carnelian placed in the central part of the room will promote harmony for the whole family. If the carnelian is situated facing south, they are said to bring abundance, luck, and success. If they are facing west, they can help to boost our creative pursuits.