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Carnelian is a translucent orange to red variety of chalcedony. Uniformly colored cryptocrystalline quartz, its red tints are caused by traces of iron oxide. The name is derived from the Latin world for flesh, carne, due to its orangey red color. Carnelian has been appreciated since antiquity, and is one of the first known materials ever to be used as a gemstone.

Carnelian Polished
Carnelian Classification
Common Name Carnelian
Species Quartz
Carnelian Optical Properties
Transparency Semitransparent - Translucent
Dispersion Strength: None
Refractive Index 1.535-1.539
Birefringence 0.004
Optic Character Uniaxial
Optic Sign Positive
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG)
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert
LWUV: Inert
Pleochroism None
Carnelian Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 6.5-7
Specific Gravity 2.550-2.700 Typical:2.600
Toughness Excellent
Inclusions Carnelian sometimes has a cloudy appearance. If stripes are seen through transmitted light then it is dyed agate.
Luster Vitreous, Greasy
Stability Good
Fracture Conchoidal, Granular
Cleavage None
Carnelian Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name silicon dioxide (aka silica)
Chemical Formula SiO2
Crystal System Trigonal
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Carnelian Colors

  • Red Carnelian Red
  • Orange Carnelian Orange

Alternate Names


Countries of Origin

Tanzania, United Republic Of; Colombia; United States of America (the); Unknown; China; Ireland; Brazil; Madagascar; Thailand; India; Indonesia


Set your jewelry collection on fire (figuratively, of course) with carnelian. A member of the chalcedony sub-group, this quartz is a blazing orange-to-red in its color. It's beautiful, wearable, and affordable - an unbeatable combination in a gemstone. Carnelian is one of the first known gemstones.

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More About Carnelian

For as far back in time as we know, folklore has joined carnelian and good fortune. The Middle Eastern peoples considered carnelian a stone of kings and royalty. Due to its warm, rich orange-red color, they also associated it with fire. In Egypt, believers wore carnelian to ward off the evil eye and to bring peace to the wearer.

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Showcasing 200 gemstones in over 1,000 pages and accompanied by more than 2,000 photos, The Sisk Gemology Reference is a must-have in every collector’s library. Each comprehensive, three-volume set features state-of-the-art photography, detailed illustrations, and scientifically precise descriptions to create an entrancing experience for gemstone amateurs and afficionados alike.

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Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.