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Buy Carnelian Gems

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About Carnelian

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Carnelian is a brownish red to orange variety of chalcedony quartz, colored by trace amounts of iron. Darker colors (red-brown to brown) are often referred to by the name sard. Carnelian is one of the oldest gemstones, being widely used in ancient Rome to make signet or seal rings.

Carnelian belongs to the quartz group of minerals, the second most abundant mineral group on earth. Although all quartz gemstones share the same chemical composition of silicon dioxide, they are two distinct branches based on crystal formation: Macrocrystalline quartz and cryptocrystalline quartz. Carnelian belongs to the cryptocrystalline half of quartz. Cryptocrystalline, also referred to as chalcedony quartz, includes a variety of other gemstones including agate, onyx, and jasper. Carnelians distinction takes place by its distinct color a red-orange to a brownish-red variety of chalcedony quartz. Carnelian obtains its color through iron impurities that form within a colorless quartz crystal.

Carnelian also referred to as 'cornelian,' was thought to have been named after the color of the cornel cherry. Carnelian may often be confused with 'sard,' a darker, brownish variety of chalcedony quartz. Since there is no clear distinction between sard and carnelian, many specimens may be both. Carnelian is also one of the many gemstones classified as 'carbuncle.' Carbuncle is a term that was initially used to refer only to red garnet cabochons, but nowadays, the name can reference any red cabochon cut gemstone. Recently, natural carnelian has become extremely rare, so to keep up with demand many carnelian stones are agate stones that have been dyed and or heated to obtain their carnelian-like colors.

Carnelian History and Lore

Carnelian is one of the oldest known gemstones, with written records dating back over 4000 years. It was highly prized and worn by many of the world's noble people throughout ancient times. Carnelian holds an extraordinary place in the Christian religion. According to holy scriptures, carnelian was one of the twelve gemstones worn on the breastplate of Aaron, the first high priest of the Israelites and a prophet. Carnelian also played significant roles in ancient Greek, Roman and Babylonian cultures. It was popularly worn in amulets and talismans and commonly used for the making of insignia rings and seals.

Want to know more about Carnelian?

Read our Carnelian info page here.

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