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Carnelian Ring Information

Carnelian Rings from GemSelect
About Carnelian Rings Back to Top

One of the amazing things about carnelian rings is that they have been worn for several thousand years and this may be because carnelian is a type of quartz that is found all over the world. More specifically, carnelian rings contain red-orange to brown-red chalcedony quartz gemstones. Although carnelian rings may be looked down upon as inexpensive and "not precious", they are culturally and historically important jewelry items that will remain a classic piece in any jewelry collection, whether it is a men's carnelian ring or a ladies' carnelian ring. Carnelian rings have been worn throughout history as symbols of power, for religious and spiritual purposes, given as gifts and also worn as fashion accessories. This means that there is a wide variety of carnelian ring styles, from ancient to modern and for both casual and formal events. Carnelian rings are perfect for those who love warm colors.

Carnelian Ring History Back to Top

Carnelian ring history dates back to around 5000 years ago when ancient Sumerians used carnelian in jewelry. The ancient Egyptians also used carnelian along with turquoise, lapis lazuli, malachite and jasper as a gemstone in rings and other jewelry items, such as crowns, pectorals, beaded necklaces and bracelets. One of the most stunning ancient Egyptian agate rings is a gold ring mounted with a carved carnelian cat. This showcases the intricate carvings that can be produced in carnelian. The name, "carnelian" is said to have come from the "cornel" cherry, which has a similar color to carnelian gemstones, and has also given it the name "cornelian". Carnelian gemstones have also been referred to as "carbuncle"; a name that is associated with cabochon-cut red gemstones, including garnets. Carnelian was believed to have been one of the twelve gemstones set into the Breastplate of Aaron; the first high priest of the Israelites and a prophet. The Breastplate is the origin of modern birthstones. Carnelian rings were worn by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and these were often carved and used as personal seals for important documents. One such Greek carnelian ring from the 5th century B.C. sold for $35,850 at Christie's in 2002. A gold and carnelian intaglio ring from around the 1st century B.C. bearing the likeness of Alexander the Great sold for almost $73,000 at Bonhams in 2011. Carnelian rings were also important in ancient Persia where carnelian was used in both silver and gold. Persian carnelian rings were sometimes accented by turquoise stones and carved with animal images. Like ancient Greek and Roman carnelian rings, Persian carnelian rings were also used as seals. Almost every part of the ancient world used own carnelian rings, from the Romans to the Khmers of Cambodia.

Carnelian Rings of the Rich and Famous Back to Top

Although carnelian rings have been worn for thousands of years by men and women, carnelian rings of the rich and famous are very few and far between. This may be due to the fact that natural carnelian has become extremely rare. One beautiful celebrity carnelian ring was a gold carnelian ring worn by Sigourney Weaver to the 2013 SAG Awards. Star of "Games of Thrones", Lena Headey wore what looked to be a stunning carved carnelian ring to the "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" movie premiere. Prominent ancients would have worn carnelian signet rings, as symbols of their power that doubled up as personal seals.

Carnelian Ring Designs Back to Top
Black Metal Carnelian Ring with Yellow Gold Detail
Black Metal Carnelian Ring with Yellow Gold Detail
Click to enlarge image

Carnelian ring designs are largely cabochon rings, carved cameo rings and intaglio rings. Ladies', men's and unisex carnelian rings are available in a wide variety of styles, from simple and affordable carnelian rings to high jewelry carved carnelian accented by white diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels have various carved carnelian ring designs of yellow gold and rose gold, including their well-known Alhambra design. Boucheron also have some beautiful ladies' carnelian ring designs using carved gemstones. Some jewelry designers also make use of checkerboard-cut carnelian or faceted carnelian gems in rings, though these are not as often seen as carved and cabochon carnelian rings. This may be because the stunning color and waxy luster of carnelian is best showcased by cabochons and carvings. A modern men's geometric carnelian ring design of Stephen Webster's has carnelian inlay surrounding a step-cut hematite center stone in a silver ring. Carnelian is such a versatile material that almost any ring design can be fashioned from it.

Carnelian Ring Buying Guide Back to Top

Carnelian ring buying guides should note that the deepest colored carnelian is the most desirable for rings, though some jewelry buyers prefer the orange colored carnelian gems. Carnelian rings may show non-uniform color, with lighter and darker zones in one gemstone, with a cloudy translucency when held to the light. This cloudiness is a sign of a natural carnelian ring. Since natural carnelian gemstones have become quite rare, some "carnelian rings" actually contain dyed agate gemstones, so for buyers to be completely sure of what they are purchasing, a gem lab treatment report can be helpful.

How to Wear Carnelian Rings Back to Top

The ancients really knew how to wear carnelian rings, whether they were cabochons or carved carnelian rings in silver or gold. Such beautiful rings look great when worn with warm reds and browns, neutral cream, white or black. Black metal carnelian rings look especially dramatic. An interesting contrast can be seen with pale blue and carnelian. Ancient carnelian rings show that carnelian rings can be worn every day for many years and generations without showing signs of wear and tear. Depending on the style, both men's and women's carnelian rings can be casual for everyday wear or ooze elegance for formal events. Small carnelian rings are perfect as pinky rings or for stacking with other colored gemstone rings.

Carnelian Ring Meanings Back to Top

Carnelian ring meanings include the ability to convey good luck and protection from negative energy and poverty. Additional properties attributed to carnelian rings are that they encourage a good sense of humor and a calm temper. Physically, carnelian rings are associated with energy, a healthy abdomen, kidneys and digestive system, purification of the blood and skin healing. Although carnelian is not an official birthstone, carnelian rings are often worn as astrological rings by those born under the sign of Virgo.

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  • First Published: August-26-2016
  • Last Updated: August-26-2016
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