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Sell With a Story: Carnelian Gemstones

Blog Header SWAS Carnelian

Carnelian is a translucent orange-red stone, highly favored throughout the ages. And its enduring popularity lasts to this day, the perfect accent for sophisticated neutrals, fashion looks, and classic styles. So, how enduring is it? Well, I’d say “very enduring” or maybe even “very, very enduring.” You be the judge.

In Bulgaria

Beads found in Bulgaria date back to the Neolithic Era. I wasn’t sure what that meant so I googled it and discovered this refers to the period from 10,200 BCE to between 4,500 and 2,000 BCE. I think that’s long enough to qualify carnelian as having “very, very enduring” popularity.

Ancient Carnelian beads, photos courtesy of
Carnelian Ancient Beads Carnelian Ancient Beads Carnelian Ancient Beads

Outward Bound

In the ancient world, India was the source for carnelian. So how did it reach Bulgaria? With the Neolithic Era, we saw the rise of agriculture, villages, and trade. Trading let villagers acquire what they couldn’t produce, and learn what was going on elsewhere. Can you imagine what they’d think about smartphones? Carnelian traveled early trading routes, some of which eventually formed part of the Silk Road.

Solar Power

In ancient India, they realized the power the sun had on carnelian. They placed beads, carvings, and ore in the sun and let the heat intensify their orange-red hue.

Biblical Connections

I always thought chalcedony was a specific stone, which it is, but it can also mean a member of the cryptocrystalline quartz group which includes carnelian, agate, and chrysoprase. “Chalkedon,” or chalcedony, appears in the Old Testament list of 12 stones set in High Priest’s breastplate and many consider carnelian to be the intended chalcedony.

Intertwined with times and cultures

Through the ages, artisans carved carnelian for jewelry, amulets, talismans, and seals. Frequent carving subjects were Greek and Roman gods, mythical creatures, and historical or well-known figures. By the 19th century, carvers used carnelian for cameos. The stone enjoyed popularity during the Art Deco period, (See images) and remains popular to this day.

Two Art Deco Necklace centerpieces • Images courtesy of Lang Antiques
Vintage Art Deco Carnelian Necklace Lang Antiques Vintage Art Deco Carnelian Necklace Lang Antiques

Power and Passion

People of the ancient Middle East associated the stone with kings. They associated its color with lions and fire – signs of strength, power, and passion.

A Monument to Queen Mumtaz Mahal

Queen Mumtaz was the beloved wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (reign 1628-1658). By custom, he had other wives, yet they languished in Mumtaz’s shadow. Her name means “Chosen one of the Palace.” In addition to her great beauty, she had a keen intelligence and political astuteness. She served as the Emperor’s most trusted advisor and confidante and bore him 14 children. When she died in childbirth in 1631, her devastated widower determined to build a mausoleum worthy of her. He called it the Taj Mahal, considered by many to represent the peak of Mughal architecture. Queen Mumtaz loved Agra carnelian, and so, the Emperor had it inlaid in white marble (along with other gems) throughout the interior. Most unusually, on his death in 1666, Shah Jahan’s tomb was placed by her side.

Carnelian SWAS Taj Mahal Inlay
White marble inlaid with carnelian and other gems. Taj Mahal, Interior • Image courtesy of GoHero


Good luck with that

From its earliest times, this treasured stone has been associated with good luck. By the 18th and 19th centuries, the royal courts in France and England had developed a symbolic gem language – a subtle way to send a message. A carnelian brooch signified “Good Luck.” Some symbolism got very detailed. Gems were arranged in a certain order so that the first letter of each spelled out a word or two. Imagine a royal feast where everyone was staring at each woman’s brooch figuring out the message and who was supposed to see it! It might be easier to whisper something.


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The power of carnelian

Most people purchase carnelian jewelry because they love the color, the look, and the style. But the stone has much more to offer. Its name derives from the Latin word carnem, which means flesh and meat. Think of the word carnivorous.
Its color also associates it with blood. Here are carnelian’s powers. It–

  • Restores energy, revitalizes.
  • Helps in all forms of physical recovery.
  • Resolves digestive problems reducing abdominal pain.
  • Helps with childbirth.
  • Alleviates the symptoms of rheumatism.
  • Purifies the blood.
  • Protect against negative energy.
  • Enhance spirituality.
  • And add balance to your life.

How can there be any doubt? We can all gain power by wearing carnelian jewelry.

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Elizabeth Raffel

I've been with Stuller since 2013 • Primarily read books on physics and other sciences • Was blown away by 'Breaking Bad' • I believe no woman can have too many boots or too much jewelry • Been writing professionally longer than I care to admit • Studied tailoring after college.