Carnelian is a red, orange, or amber Chalcedony. Carnelian is really similar to another Chalcedony gem called Sard, but Sard has a distinctive brown hue. There isn’t a clear line between the two. Carnelian gets its name from either the Latin “carnes” (flesh) or, according to a different theory, from the Medieval “corneolus” which is a variety of corn cherry.

Carnelian is probably the most known Chalcedony today, and it has been loved as a gemstone from ancient times. The use of carnelian as beads dates back to the Early Neolithic in Bulgaria, with the first carnelian beads being found at Varna necropolis. Decorative artifacts made of carnelian were discovered at Knossos in Crete dated to approximately 1800 BC. Carnelian was widely used as an engraving material during Roman times since hot wax does not adhere to it. A Neo-Assyrian seal made of carnelian is in the British Museum. Pu Abi, a Sumerian queen of Mesopotamia, was buried in a robe of gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian. As a symbolic representation of Horus, the Sun God, mummies in Egypt were adorned with carnelian, which is also said to be the gemstone of Aaron’s breastplate and the Twelve Tribes of Israel in the Bible.

The first appearance of carnelian is attributed to the Bengal region of India. Natives traditionally exposed brownish stones to sunlight to make them red. Gujarat has been a source of carnelian for more than 5000 years, supplying gemstones to the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian empires. Carnelian mining of the ancient world probably took place in dried riverbeds of Yemen, streams in Sardinia, and Stela Ridge in Egypt’s Nubian Desert.

Both Carnelian and Sard are given their hue by iron oxide impurities in various proportions, and they are found in India, Brazil (Campo de Maia), Uruguay, Siberia and Germany. The best Carnelian comes from India, Ratnapura.


A Carnelian is a type of Chalcedony formed in volcanic lava or igneous rocks with iron elements that give the stone its distinct rusty color. As the Carnelian quartz forms, it becomes harder than the adjacent rock which erodes in time. The Carnelian will then get washed away by streams and creeks and sit on river beds until collected, sometimes millions of years later. Some carnelian can also be mined by digging deep shafts into the ground until seams are exposed.


Carnelian is transparent to opaque, with 6.5- 7 on Mohs scale. Due to iron in its chemical composition, it can be easily heat treated (even with the sun’s heat), to darken reddish hues. Unless otherwise stated, it can be assumed that any carnelian on the market is enhanced in this manner. It has a vitreous to greasy luster, with a cloudy pattern.  Carnelian is usually solid in color, although some stones may have some striations or lighter or darker patches. Whenever the stone exhibits banding, mineralogists classify it as a hybrid carnelian/agate. Banding in a stone, however, may indicate treatments to make it look like carnelian.



Ancient Egyptians called Carnelian “the blood of Isis”. Carnelian amulets were allegedly placed upon the throats of deceased people, in hopes that they would summon Isis’ aid in guiding their souls safely to the next world.

Red carnelian, a form of chalcedony, was worn on the hand in ancient Egypt to reduce anger, jealousy, envy, and hate. In Renaissance magic, carnelian stones were often engraved with swords or images of warriors. Once placed into the home, the magical amulet protected it against lightning and storms and served as a protection against spells. The stone was worn as a preventive measure for skin disease, nosebleeds, blood disorders, and general health-injury. 

Symbolism: Vitality, Protection, Peace, Eloquence, Healing, Courage, Sexual

Element: Fire

Traditionally, carnelian indicates courage, willpower, vigor, stability, good moods and a sense of community, as well as promoting idealism. Crystal Healing relates it to digestion, small intestine, circulation, metabolism, blood flow, and blood quality.

In Crystal therapy practices, those who are shy and timid can wear this stone to increase their courage. Wearing this stone is associated with effects like calm your nerves and give you more confidence when you speak in public. A carnelian is thought to empower the voice, give self-confidence and lend eloquence to the speaker. To accomplish this, it is usually worn around the neck or attached to a ring. Wearing carnelian to bed is thought to stop nightmares and strengthen astral vision. Several cultures recommend to wear this stone to stimulate sexual activity.

In Paganism, carnelian can be used for spells for patience, as well as to counteract doubt and negative thinking. Carrying carnelian is a protective measure against others who try to read your mind


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