Carnelian comes from Latin "carnis" which means "flesh." It is interesting to note that the name of a very similar stone Sard, in Greek (sarx), also means flesh. Similarly, the Persian word sered, meaning yellowish red, also refers to the carnelian stone.

Carnelian is also written as Cornelian.

Carnelians are mostly found in Germany, Siberia, India and Brazil.

Carnelian and Sard are often used interchangeably. The colors of Carnelian range from beautiful pale orange, yellow, to an almost dark brownish coloration. Sard, on the other hand, is a deep reddish brown to almost black. The various shades of red depend on the amount of iron oxide present in each stone. Carnelian is transparent to sub-translucent, Sard can appear near opaque. However, the differences between the two are not rigidly defined.

Traditionally it was believed that these stones were very sensitive to oils and acids and also if a carnelian was exposed directly to the sun, its color would be enhanced.

Over 4500 years ago, Sumerian and Egyptian craftsmen were making jewelry set with the stone. In Ancient Egypt, carnelians were worn by architects and warriors to give them courage. It was also worn by living people to prevent them from hatred, jealousy and envy.

Ancient Romans and Greeks also valued the stone which they used for intaglios. Very interestingly, the ancient Romans held such high regards for carnelians that they deemed the yellow carnelians female as the beloved of the sun, and the stronger colored ones, such as the brownish-reds, males. The pale colored ones were also regarded as females.

The Romans loved carnelian. They used carnelian for their seal rings. Egyptian and Phoenician and early Greek and Etruscan used carnelian for their sacred scarab amulets. Carnelians were also used in ancient Mesopotamia. Eighteenth century Europeans also used Carnelian-Sard intaglios.

The Prophet Mohammed was said to have worn a carnelian seal set in silver on the little finger of his right hand. This may help explain the appeal of carnelian in the Arab and Muslim world. Gem cutters often engraved carnelians with small prayers for luck or to turn away envy. In Egypt, people wear carnelian to ward off the Evil Eye and instill peace.

Carnelian is also highly regarded as a powerful stone by the shamans. They love to wear carnelian during their magical work as they believed that the stones, with its supernatural powers, could enable them to witness the astral planes. Madame Blavatsky herself also possessed a carnelian.

Creativity, vitality, sexuality, regeneration, confidence and action are the metaphysical benefits of the stone. Traditionally carnelian is used to assist one who is afraid to speak in public. It builds up confidence and personal power. This stone is full of life-force which can help you to take the courage to leap into action.

The grounding energy of the stone helps one to embrace and accept the cycle of change. It also helps to overcome blocks and apathy. It has a detoxification effect on alcohol and drugs.

As an energy that resonates with the sacral chakra, it helps to balance and heal male and female reproductive organs and helps you to express the full range of passion and emotion in a healthy and balanced manner.

Carnelians bring happiness to the wearer. It makes the soul happy and drives away the evil effects of witchcraft, sorcery, fear and curses. It procures blessings to the wearer.

It is the stone for conquerors and of victory over one’s enemies. It was used as a charm against bad influences of bad thinking. This form of bad thinking, it was believed, came from black magic.

If you dream of a carnelian, it means that someone is speaking evil against you.

In a business context, carnelian is said to support leadership, courage and enterprise and anchors people into the present reality.

As medicine, it was used to stop bleeding, administered in powdered form.

A poem "Pledges of Blessing” by Goethe from his work, West-Eastern Diwan, Book of the Singer sums up this wondrous stone:

"Carnelian is a Talisman,
It brings good luck to child and man;
If resting on an onyx ground,
A sacred kiss imprint when found.
It drives away all evil things;
To thee and thine protection brings.
The Name of Allah, king of kings,
If graven on this stone, indeed,
will move to love and doughty deed.
From such a gem a woman gains
Sweet hope and comfort in her pains."