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Gemstone of the Month: Carnelian

March 08, 2017 Allison Bray

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Carnelian is a semi-precious gemstone in an earthy brownish-red tone. The colour gives a hint of sunsets and autumn leaves and its name, which is sometimes spelt Cornelian, is believed to have come from the Latin word cornum, meaning ‘the cornel cherry’. Why? Because these richly coloured gems do resemble very shiny cherry stones!
This is a semi-precious gem with a very long lineage. Carnelian has been discovered in a Bronze Age settlement in Crete dating back to 1800 BC. The Romans were also known to use this gem. It was particularly popular for signet rings as wax doesn't stick to carnelian, making it the ideal material for imprinting seals with.
A colour so bold could only have been linked to strength. Ancient warriors are said to have worn carnelian to help them find courage in battle. This gem was also once believed to protect the wearer from illness, particularly the plague!

Worn best with… 

We love the look of carnelian with silver. There’s something wonderfully crisp about the juxtaposition of its warm sunset hue against cool metal. This is a gem that’s made for contrasts; just pair it with turquoise to see what we mean.

Best suited to… 

Carnelian isn’t a stone for the faint hearted! This is a big, attention seeking gem perfect for those who want to make a real statement with their jewellery. We love how it looks in a cocktail ring. 

Famous Carnelians… 

Some of the most ancient examples of jewellery feature carnelian. An impressive robe bejewelled with carnelian was found in Ur in the tomb of Sumerian queen Pu-Abi which dated back to 3000 BC.

More inspiration… 

Carnelian and Black Onyx Asymmetrical Necklace | Carnelian and Silver Ring | Turquoise Bead Necklace With Carnelian | Rainbow Cubed Gemstone Necklace 

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