Carnelian is a gemstone that is also referred to as Cornelian, Agate, Mecca Stone, Pigeon's blood, and Sadoine. The name carnelian is a derivative of the Latin word "carnis" which means flesh. The alternate name, cornelian is a derivative of the Latin word "cornum" which means cherry. Carnelian is a gemstone that has been utilized for centuries to create attractive cameos and it ranges in color from yellowish-orange to reddish-brown. Carnelians are found all around the world however, the most favorable pieces are found in India especially near Ratnapur, Bengal and Deccan. Carnelians can also be found in the United States (Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Colorado), Japan, Botswana, South America, Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, Russia, South Africa and Madagascar.
On the Mohs scale, carnelian is a 6.5 - 7 which is between Iron Pyrite and Quartz. Carnelian is classified as a Chalcedony and is considered a member of the Quartz family. Due to its chemical make up which is similar to Agate, carnelians can be classified as Sard when it grades into brown, Jasper when it is dark brown and Sardonyx when it contains white bands. Many carnelians presented today are dyed and then heat treated to improve the reddish brown color. Carnelian is connected with the ancient Hebrew, Roman, Italian and Arabic birthstones and it is recognized as an alternate for August. Under the Zodiac, carnelian is the birthstone for Virgo however; it has also been associated with Leo, Cancer and Taurus.
According to legends, carnelians were used as protection for the living and deceased to safeguard against evil. In the past, carnelians have been associated with upper class and nobility and they were often buried with them. Additionally, carnelians are believed to have healing powers that increase energy and calm rage. The wearer of a carnelian should be protected from resentment, envy and fright. The gemstone is also thought to assist with infertility, sexuality, menstrual complications, arthritis, back pain and allergies.