Carnelian (kar-NEL-yun, kar-NEL-ee-un) is a variety of chalcedony with a brownish-orange color caused by the presence of iron oxide impurities. The color can range from pale orange to nearly black, sometimes with a reddish tone. Its name is actually a modification of the word ‘cornelian’, which is what some people still call this stone; it is named for the cornel (or cornelian) cherry, which has a similar color.

The differentiation between carnelian and sard is vague at best; though some sources say that sard is a harder, darker version of carnelian, the two terms are often used interchangeably. (Sard is the orange tone found in sardonyx.)

Sometimes carnelian is confused with certain similar colors of jasper, but carnelian is always at least somewhat translucent while jasper is opaque. You can check translucency by holding the stone up to a light source.

Being a type of chalcedony, it has a Mohs hardness of 6 to 7 and a trigonal crystal structure.

It is the alternate birthstone for July (the main one being ruby).

Location: Carnelian is chiefly found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Uruguay, and the United States; most commercially available carnelian comes from South America or India.

Properties: Carnelian acts strongly on all three lower chakras (root, navel, and solar plexus). Its effect on the root chakra is associated with an increase in connectedness with one’s body and a heightened sense of health and vitality. The navel chakra is associated with creativity, sexuality, and enjoyment of the physical aspects of life, so carnelian increases these vibrations as well. The solar plexus chakra is the “seat of the will”, meaning that it is where we make our decisions from. Some of the most important properties of carnelian deal with this aspect of life: it facilitates decision-making, encourages confidence and positive self-image, and aids in manifesting one’s desires into reality. People who are spiritually focused often overlook the importance of the first three chakras, leaving them indecisive, passive, and somewhat disconnected. Carnelian is an excellent companion for those people doing spiritual work so that they do not lose sight of the importance of having a physical foundation for their work, helping them embrace the physical rather than rejecting it for its often unseemly associations. On each level where carnelian has influence, it helps the wearer to confront and overcome fears associated with that aspect of life.

Some people believe carnelian can be used to detoxify from alcohol or drugs, heal ovaries or testes, and treat various conditions such as neuralgia, spinal disorders, kidney or gall stones, pancreas or spleen issues, and pollen allergies.

« Back to Glossary Index