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Article: Carnelian History & Uses - The Sunset Stone

Carnelian History & Uses - The Sunset Stone

Carnelian History & Uses - The Sunset Stone

Carnelian is the name given to a variety of the silica mineral Chalcedony that is colored with the impurities of iron oxide. Carnelian has been used as a precious gemstone in jewelry for thousands of years.Carnelian history

Carnelian History

The name is either derived from the Latin Carnal (flesh) or Cornel (berry). It has also been called Cornelian. Carnelian has been adored and used by humanity since before written records began.

Carnelian jewelry has been unearthed in a number of sites, such as the Varna Necropolis in Bulgaria, dated as far back as 5500 BCE showing that not only was carnelian fashioned into jewelry, but it had also been faceted by the Bronze-Age lapidaries.

Carnelian Jewelry


Carnelian was also a favorite among the ancient Sumerian and Egyptian cultures. It is known that the Egyptians in particular associated carnelian with reinvigoration of the spirit and body. Known as the ‘Sunset Stone’, it was found on the famous pharaoh Tutankhamen's death mask and is mentioned frequently in the Bible, both as one of the jewels adorning Aaron’s Breastplate and in Revelations, decorating the walls of Heaven.

Hot wax does not stick to carnelian, making it a popular choice for signet rings for the ancient Greek and Romans. Carnelian has also been used for intaglio (printmaking), whereby an image is carved into a surface (of the carnelian) and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink. This was a popular art-style during medieval and Renaissance times in Europe.


Carnelian Mythology

In more recent history, Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have taken a liking to a carnelian he obtained while on campaign in Egypt in the late 1790s, keeping it on his person and eventually gifting it to his nephew and future emperor of the French, Napoleon III.

Where is Carnelian found?

Carnelian can be found in several locations throughout the world such as Peru, Russia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia India and the US. We source our carnelian from Oregon.
Carnelian Earrings

Carnelian Properties

Carnelian can be found in a range of colors, from very dark, almost-black to bright orange, though most carnelian is a reddish-brownish color.

With a hardness rating of 6.5-7.0 on the Mohs scale, it is quite hard and scratch-resistant.

If you want to continue the long history of wearing carnelian jewelry, you can get your own unique piece from us here.

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